Close to the end

Discussion in 'Black And White' started by KenS, May 6, 2017.

  1. KenS

    KenS Active Member Registered User

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    OldForestFloor .jpg



    On taking a ‘side-trip’ (as a means of enjoying my trip home from a ‘meeting’) I decided to take a short cut to the highway by driving down a logging trail at the edge of an old growth forest in Oregon. The scene to my left was one of ‘devastation’… almost bare acres with only a few young trees left standing amongst pile of cut and stripped branches, while to my right, massive conifers almost with spitting distance.
    After a last minute decision to stop at a truck ‘passing area’ in order to stretch my legs and finish the last of my coffee in my Thermos, my eye was ‘caught by the white flowers illuminated by the setting sun… I will swear I actually heard a quiet verbal invitation to come and make a photograph… an invitation joyfully accepted and I extracted my camera, tripod, Sekonic meter and the last loaded and unexposed film holder. The scene just ‘begged’ to be recorded from a low ‘height’ with the ‘almost-set’ sun providing the magnificent side-lighting.

    I made just the one exposure using Kodak Plus-X behind my 240mm Sironar mounted on my Linhof monorail. Exposure was not recorded to paper, but… if my ageing memory serves me well enough it was 1/30 second at f.16. The film was developed as ‘normal’ in Pyrocat HD in BTZS tubes.


    Ken
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2017
  2. Keith Haithwaite

    Keith Haithwaite Active Member Registered User

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    Although I quite like the picture I don't think the transition to 2D B&W has resulted in a picture that mirrors the one in your mind's eye Ken as the small blooms are somewhat overwhelmed by the darker tones and don't stand out as being the main subject in the shot. Just my thoughts ....
     
  3. Acrid Dragon

    Acrid Dragon Guest

    I think your focus is not clear enough. What is your camera friend? And your photo could be much better with another illumination
     
  4. KenS

    KenS Active Member Registered User

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    Acrid...
    Unfortunately, my small Honda Civic did not have the space to carry my one meter square electronic soft-light, the power source, a chord long enough to reach the nearest power outlet... OR... the time to set up 'perfect/controllable-studio-type lighting'.... I do not have.. or ever make use of 'on-camera illumination' as 'main' or for fill-lighting.

    There was some 'light air' movement and... while sun was but a few minutes away from 'going to bed', I had to work somewhat 'faster' to set everything up in my attempt to capture what I (at the time) might be an interesting image, using my much experienced Linhof monorail.

    With some 60+ years under the darkcloth and some 30+ years as a Registered Biological Photographer (ie. Board Certification after a minimum time 'working' both behind the camera AND in the darkroom, passing the written exam, the portfolio and the inevitable oral 'defense'). Re-touching of either print (or negative) has NEVER been 'allowed'... or even considered anywhere near either an 'acceptable' or 'legal' procedure.

    Ken
     
  5. alexmuir

    alexmuir Member Registered User

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    I like this, Ken. It has a gentle feel to it, yet a lot of contrast. Capturing movement is fine by me. It's seldom the case that plants in their natural habitat are completely still. It's hard to imagine a better light source for this type of subject than natural light.
    Alex.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
     
  6. martin henson

    martin henson Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    Seeing a LF Image on screen does kill the intent and quality somewhat, zoom in and it shows the beautiful tones and separation that only a person with metering and developing skills can do, as a record shoot of the plants its excellent.
     
  7. KenS

    KenS Active Member Registered User

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    near the end #2.jpg


    I was down in the darkroom last night cleaning some film holders and came across one that (according to the dark slide 'lock') had been exposed rather than 'empty' and ready for 're-loading'. Fortunately, I decided that discretion might be the better part of valour... turned off the light and 'checked' to find there was a film 'in' there. I set up for developing in my tubes somewhat quickly and processed that one sheet that I had (somehow) missed developing from a few years ago and had since forgotten after a 'trip down and back from Oregon. My suspicion turned out to be true.... after processing in Pyrocat HD found it to be a close-up of the plants at the base of the tree... in the previous image of the same plants at the base of the tree.... I had (somehow) completely forgotten that I had made this exposure. So.... first thing after my 3 Km walk in the 9 inches of fresh snow this morning , I powered up the Mac, the Epson and went to 'work'.

    Ken
     
    mono and Diz like this.
  8. KenS

    KenS Active Member Registered User

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  9. martin henson

    martin henson Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    Bit to much contrast for me Ken, the dark areas without any detail gives a heavy feel.
     
  10. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    Like the contrast in the plants, but the darker tones are too dark for my taste.
     
  11. KenS

    KenS Active Member Registered User

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    [QUOTE="martin henson, post: 4144, member: 3 "Bit to much contrast for me Ken, the dark areas without any detail gives a heavy feel.[/QUOTE]

    It 'may' be the result of "placing the white with texture" on ZVlll, along with my 'normal' development. While so doing often results in great highlight information which is one of the areas to which the eye is first drawn. I can live quite 'happily' with good 'dark' areas in the print.. as long as 'some' of the required texture is visible to provide a 'solid baseline'.
    PPERSONALLY, I prefer to have 'good' (ie. readily visible texture), in the 'lighter areas' of the image while the 'low end provides a good solid 'base' for the rest of the image.... but I do not like "muddy" out of focus 'darks'

    Ken
     
  12. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    Ken,

    Spoken like a true disciple of Fred Picker! :D That said, I totally agree. I much prefer textured highlights and high values that sing over worrying about shadow detail. If I feel that the shadow detail is equally important, I'll give a bit more exposure and do an N- development...which I rarely do. My comment above was simply what I would do with this particular subject...which ain't worth much! :D
     
  13. KenS

    KenS Active Member Registered User

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    Allan.
    OOPS... I Just noticed that this has been 'posted' and gone unread (or forgotten about).

    I prefer that any and all of the 'lowest tones'.... with some texture detail.. unless it is a 'flat black' provide a good 'base' to provide 'contrast' to the highlight 'texture detail' available when the 'white with texture'(if there is any) from my scrap of clean white towelling carried in my camera from which the "highlight with texture exposure" is placed (using my Pentax Spotmeter) on ZVIII... usually the area to which the eye is first drawn. It was also 'put to work when there is no 'actual' white texture visible from the small 'smooth' flowers in this image which were far too small from which to acquire a spot meter 'reading'.
    It's the way I have 'worked' for many years, (and it 'pissed off my supervisor on a few occasions when I was 'new' to my position at the Research Station). i'm reasonably 'comfortable' and confident with it with it after so many years. It may not work with ALL large format camera users. But 'different strokes for different folks' was my mentor's mantra those 60+ years ago. He would also use a 'close-up' of reading with an old Weston light meter from a swatch of 'mid toned' material that he carried with him when out 'making' But thanks to Phil, (and a few others) my Pentax spot meter and the swatch of clean white towel has provided me with the confidence to 'work' my way.

    Ken
     
  14. David M

    David M Active Member Registered User

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    If I understand rightly, you are not metering the from subject itself, but from an artificial subject of known reflectance that you place within the scene. Despite the spotmeter and the placement on ZVIII, this sounds like a roundabout version of incident metering.
    Interesting system that I've not encountered before. How do you proceed for distant subjects?

    I've been re-reading the comments on shadow detail. I'm sorry to say that on my screen, I too would like a little more detail, but I wondered why, so I spent some time gazing at the image to clarify my thinking
    Now, if we look at a wall or cliff with deep unlit holes, our eyes accept a solid featherless black within them with no problem and we interpret the scene as it is.
    This case is a little different. The top quarter of the image clearly shows that there is textured soil under the leaves and our experience of life tells us that this must continue under the leaves in the lower half. This soil takes up a compositionally significant part of the image. The lower, solid black shadows present us with the effect of a bottomless pit, which doesn't accord with the expectations generated by the detail visible at the top and by our everyday experience of the way plants grow
    In this way, despite the interesting texture of the leaves, we are left feeling a little uncomfortable with what we see, and being photographers, we go on to articulate it in terms of shadow detail.
    Despite my verbosity, I think this might be a clue to the comments already made
     
  15. KenS

    KenS Active Member Registered User

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    More often than not, the reflected light range is 'wider/greater’ than the useful than the 'range' that film is capable of recording to provide us with ‘information’ or ‘detail’ on the print. As such, We have to decide where the more important visual ‘information’(ie ‘texture) we need to record. I believe the hominid eye usually wants/needs to see more of that ‘texture’ or ‘information/detail in the brighter/lighter area of the final print. Being NOT a scientistI cannot provide you with the hows and/or whys…. But if I may, might I suggest that reading the ‘tomes’ of the late Phil Davis may
    explain the both the reasoning and the results. If my ageing memory serves me well enough,I believe I have already forwarded ahe ‘link’ where they may be downloaded, to someone else on the forum.

    Kodak’s Kodachrome was being discussed at an ‘International’ meeting of Biological Photographers a number of ears ago, the processing of that film was under extremely ‘tight’ processing controls and… we were informed of the ‘white with texture’exposure method… I tried it for myself… found it was extremely accurate. Then... I found things ‘faling into place after Fred Davis published his exposure/development method in (or around 1973)

    All too often when I am 'out' seeking a 'something to photograph' There is usually little to nothing that is 'white with texture hence my small plasic bag containing a clean piece of white towel that I will use as an alternative for the 'reflectivity' of my intended subject in a similar light 'condition'. Some people find it to be either 'strange'...or on a couple of occasions.. stupid/cheating/impossible... but... dammit, ... it has worked for me over and over again and again.

    Ken


    If you cannot find it I may still have the ‘link’ to where they may be downloaded for reading and ‘digesting’ I know I have forwarded it to a few ‘members of the 5x4 forum
     
  16. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    Gentlemen, this is a most interesting conversation... In general, I agree with Ken's reasoning and is, many times, exactly the way I work. However, where I might deviate a bit is in the use of the white towel. If I don't have "textured white" in the scene I'm photographing, I'll use my spot meter to find the highest brightness value in the scene, then make a decision of where to place that value; this will probably be in the Zone VII to Zone VIII range. Placing the "brightest bright" where I want to retain texture--say, Zone VII 1/2 for example--provides me with a well exposed negative where the shadows will naturally fall in the straight line area of the curve. IMO, this negative design gives me options... I can print down the shadow values to any desired level. Not to use a digital term here, but this is basically "exposing to the right" for analog! ;)

    Regardless, this is my way of working and talk to a hundred other photographers and you'll find 100 other ways of working. It's all good! Push on, Ken!!
     
  17. KenS

    KenS Active Member Registered User

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    There must be a multitude of means by which we LF users may achieve the resulting good negative that meets our needs for a great 'final' print that is worthy of mounting, matting, signing and finally, framing ready for the wall, We do have, however, is the ability to develop each negative 'for its own' needs... something that either 35mm or 120mm film processing cannot provide after a few hours of 'work or pleasure... so... why not take that advantage and put it to use? I was, when working, ''accused' (on more than one occasion of being somewhat 'too damned fussy'). My mentor (those many, many years ago 'instilled' the idea that a "job worth doing" was worth doing to the best of your ability....)

    Ken
    Now finding it hard to 'Push-on effectively', due to the fresh 8 inch snow load on top off the slippery ice when 'the mercury' is below 0° C., and the wind is out of the west @ 60Km/hr.... I might just have to learn how to 'hibernate'.
     
  18. David M

    David M Active Member Registered User

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    May I put forward an alternative view of shadow density?
    First, I'd like to confess that I don't like large areas of solid black in an image unless they serve a very specific graphic purpose. Some Edward Weston dunes have interestingly-shaped black areas included by intention.
    I don't think we believe that Edward wanted to replicate the actual appearance of the sand.
    For a normal scene, however, our eye roves over them, over both light and shade, and unlike a lens, adjusts itself as it goes (both f-number and ISO), to extract the maximum amount of information from the scene – looking for things like tigers, critics, food and potential mates. As we contemplate the scene, the shadows may at first appear black, but as soon as we turn our attention to the shadows, detail becomes visible, and the more we look, the more visible that detail becomes. It is this which makes richly detailed shadows so satisfying; we are not threatened by them, and they convey more closely the aesthetic sensations of the act of seeing
    At the other end of the scale, we have the problem of being dazzled by very bright lights – the sun, specular reflections and the interrogator's arc light. Our eyes can retrieve no information and we feel uncomfortable and threatened by our inability to see. Hence, I think our preference for textured highlights.
    I suspect that Kodachrome may be a red herring. All transparencies suffer when the highlights reach white. In fact, as a transparency is a reversal, we might consider the highlights to be the equivalent of the shadows in a negative. I'm not entirely convinced by my own argument here, but I offer it for discussion.
     
  19. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    Some very good points, David. However, and I think Ken might agree here, that detailed shadows just for the sake of being able to "see into them" is not necessarily desirable. If detailed shadows are necessary to the overall image design, then, yes, I'd like to see texture in there. But, if the shadows reveal unnecessary chaos and don't contribute anything, then I'd much prefer they go very dark to black.

    For example, look at the portraits of Yousuf Karsh which used very dark tones to drive the eye to the subject of the photograph which is primarily the face. The face and/or face/hands are generally the brightest part of the image. Another example, the portrait of Igor Stravinsky by Arnold Newman. Would texture in that piano lid contribute to the photograph? IMO, absolutely not! The sensuous form (if I may) plays so nicely against the lighter geometric forms in the background and serves as a beautiful counterpoint to the rather small image of Stravinsky in the lower corner. Personally, I wouldn't want detail in the lid to distract me. But, hey, that's just my opinion...

    On the other end of the scale, I want/need to see textured high values. IMO, and for my own photography, this is where the photograph lives or dies. I don't want to see featureless white! Of course, this all depends on subject matter. Fog, for example, doesn't reveal any white! ;)
     
  20. David M

    David M Active Member Registered User

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    Aha! You have picked one of my favourite photographs, the Stravinsky. For me it falls into the Weston dune category of strong graphic shapes, which I applaud. As far as I can recall, there's no detail in the white wall behind, either. Incidentally, there is pretty well no detail to reveal in the lid of a grand piano anyway. The choice would be solid black or solid dark grey although another photographer making another photograph of another subject might choose to use the glossy surface to reflect the inner workings. But that would be a different case altogether.
     

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