… though probably mostly to me! 🙂
On 5. January this year my wife and I were in Strathpeffer, and in the morning we went to the nearby Rogie Falls. I decided to go back there in the afternoon on my own and try to capture a scene I had noticed in the morning. A bit of a miscalculation in terms of timing (err… yes, I know, Scottish winter…!) meant that it was rather late in the day to do this, but I was keen to persevere, so I set up the Chamonix looking down into a little gorge. I started setting up at about 14:45, had a composition I was vaguely satisfied with at 15:15 bearing in mind the decreasing light levels, and took a series of light readings. I was mortified to find that any reasonable chance of a decent exposure would necessitate at least 30 minutes by the time I included the film’s reciprocity failure. ‘Never mind,’ I thought, ‘FP4 has plenty of latitude!’ and went for it. By 15:45, I could barely see anything in the woods around me. So I decided that another 15 minutes would do no harm, meaning the exposure was 45 minutes long. It then also started raining which was a good motivator to move on, and I could only pack up and find all my bits and pieces by getting out the head-torch (one of the most useful things to have in a camera bag!).
I finally managed to get the film to the lab and picked it up today. The resulting negative is slightly under-exposed (another 5-10 minutes would no doubt have helped), but it is perfectly usable with some relatively minor adjustments to levels and curves:
My first reaction to the image is two-fold. I think it does represent the balance between tremendous chaos and small signs of order that I felt in the woods: all these twisty branches contrasting with the clear white trunks and branches. I like the way the whiteness of the tree trunks directs my eyes – I can remember seeing this and wanting to achieve precisely that. And yet I am not completely happy with the composition: the gorge with the fallen-down tree feels a bit lost as the trees on the left dominate the foreground. I could crop the image to exclude the large tree on the left, but then the other smaller trees seem a bit irrelevant and the white trunks almost seems less prominent – perhaps the large tree is not so much a dominant tree as a counterweight to the thin white lines?
In any case: this is all very exciting for me, because it is the very first large format image I have taken completely on my own, AND I managed to use tilt and movements successfully in achieving reasonable focus across the frame. I wanted it to be a technically decent image, and it does enough of that for me to be confident to continue what I’m doing, even if it is not (yet?) that emotionally engaging for me. It may have taken me half-an-hour to set up, it may have been too late in the day to use a sensible exposure time, and it may not be perfectly composed – but I am very happy!