Category: "Midwestern Landscapes"
Where to go on a hot July afternoon? Find a shady spot, of course. That was my logic last Thursday, when I found myself back in a clearing in the Allegan Forest - off of a barricaded two track, off of some seasonal road, off of 122nd avenue, off of M89. It was a place I’ve never been to before – I need to find more spots like that.
You wouldn’t expect that I’d get tired of shooting dragonflies – it seems to take longer every season, but this week I finally lost the dragonfly vibe. Though the fields were teeming with blue dashers and more than a few skimmers of various sorts, I left the digital camera and the macro rig behind. I wandered back into the clearing with a trusty Pentax LX loaded with Rollei IR 400 film, a couple of zoom lenses, and an R72 filter.
I shot two rolls of the Rollei film – 72 frames, but with bracketing only about 20 different compositions. Digital has really spoiled me – I feel like I’ve wasted an afternoon if I don’t take 200 shots. That is one of the great perils of digital photography - you become your own army of monkeys, pounding at the shutter button. Accidental successes seem to be triumphs, but it’s hard to figure out how you got there and recreate the work. Not to mention that accidnets have no concept behind them.
Well - back to the fields and forest. I found a pearl in the sandy soil, often the case there.
This was my third session with the Rollei film. It was shot with the R72 filter, metered though the lens with the ISO set at 200 (thanks, Ray!) Film was developed in HC110, Dil H (1:66) at 20C for 24 minutes, with very low agitation (gentle agitation every 3 minutes for the first 12, then every 60 seconds.) I like it, but I don’t see it as a replacement for HEI. It’s much too slow with the R72 filter, and I really like using a plain red filter and being able to check and tweak the composition as I’m hitting the shutter button.
Rollei IR 400, with an R72 filter, is also a pretty high contrast film. Despite my attempt at using HC110 as a compensating developer, the film is a tough beast to tame with shadow areas virtually clear on the negative. But, when it comes to B&W shots, contrast is your friend. Not a friend I’ve really come to terms with, but working with this film has been a big boost in helping me understand and work with higher contrast mono shots.
Note: Additional development times (stand process in HC110) can be found towards the end of this post: Ludington Dunes.
A few months ago I ordered what will no doubt be my last rolls of Kodak High Speed Infrared film. It’s sad to see an old standby pass on, but while online buying film, I decided to pick up a few rolls of Rollei IR400.
I was looking for a film that could produce the same startling infrared affect that the Kodak film delivered. After shooting a couple of test rolls, it seems that the Rollei film is certainly up to that task. Here are a few first impressions of the film, plus tips regarding exposure and development.
Exposure: Without a filter, or with just a #25 red filter, setting the ISO to 400 and metering through the lens worked fine. As with most ISO 400 films, though, I prefer the results at ISO 320 or even 200.
As you’d expect, there is no IR effect when shooting without a filter. And, unlike some other IR films, there is very little IR effect when shooting with a #25 red filter. To get a pronounced IR effect I had to use a Hoya R72 infrared filter.
My first experiments with the IR filter were disappointing. I utilized a 5 stop filter factor, so I metered at ISO 400 with no filter and then increased the exposure by 5 stops – effectively shooting at ISO 12. I bracket up and down a stop, for ISO 24 and 6. Unfortunately, with the R72 filter in place, this still resulted in a grossly underexposed negative.
So the second time around I ramped up the filter factor to 7 - 10 stops – shooting at ISO 3, 1.0, and even 0.5. The shot above was metered at ISO 1.0 and was taken with the R72 filter in place. In bright midday full sun, with the lens at f16, this was a 1 second exposure – pretty darn long and comparale to the digital IR work I’ve been doing. (Just to be perfectly clear for folks trying to wrap their heads around adjusting exposure to compensate for filters – I metered the above shot with the camera set to ISO 400. That gave me a recommended setting of 1/500th of a second. I then clicked the shutter button to increase the exposure by 9 stops to 1 second even.)
The R72 filter was critical for getting the distinct IR effect. The image below compares two shots, one taken at ISO 200 with a #25 Red Filter, and the other with the R72. While Kodak HIE, Ilford SFX, and even the now long defunct Konica IR750 all produced good results with the plain red filter, with the Rollei film the red filter just doesn’t cut it. The technical specifications sheet recommends a deep red filter, but I have not tried that.
Development: Having only shot two rolls of this filme, I processed the first in Rodinal 1:50 and the second in HC110 Dil H (1:66). The roll dipped in Rodinal was grainy – very grainy. The HC110 roll had much more subdued grain, and much better tonal range (of course, that is also a result of the second roll being better exposed.) The successful process with HC110 was 20 minutes and 20C, with agitation one per minute for the first 15 minutes, and every 30 seconds for the last 5 minutes. For the next roll I’ll probably drop the agitation for the first few minutes, and extend the time, in hopes of coaxing out a bit more shadow detail.
Rollei IR400 is the first 35mm film I’ve used that has a water soluble anti-halation / dye layer. While this is generally the rule for 120 and 220 films, I wasn’t expecting it in a 35mm format. As recommended on the Massive Development Chart, I pre-soaked the film for 5 minutes before developing .
In conclusion, I’m really happy with the rest results from this film, and am looking forward to doing more work with it.
It’s been over two weeks since I returned from visiting northern Michigan, but it was just a few days ago that I finally developed the two rolls of film that were exposed in a converted Kinoflex TLR. Background here: we were driving up north on World Pinhole Photography Day. I stuck the Kinoflex in the back seat of the car, hoping for a chance to pull off the road to snap a few shots.
I first broke out the pinhole camera in Kalkaska, Michigan. We were heading into trout territory, and trout fishing is a major passion in Kalkaska. The city hosts the National Trout Festival on opening day of the trout fishing season (which happened to be the day we were passing through.) A large fountain featuring an enormous brook trout sits smack dab in the middle of the city, and driving through we stopped and shot the better part of a roll of 120 film of the fountain.
Nice enough subject matter, but I really wanted to get a landscape shot. After we reached Boyne Mountain and checked into our lodging, we ventured back to the Deadman’s Hill overlook. The late afternoon sun played over the flowering spring trees – just starting to show the first hints of season’s foliage. The sun reflected off the Jordan River, making it a bright ribbon in the valley below.
Personally, this is my favorite pinhole shot from this trip. The sun was shining obliquely into the pinhole camera, and the ‘pinhole flare’ adds a little to the shot as well. Now I just have to resolve to use the pinhole camera more often, and not just on Arbor Day!
Last week Pam and I spent 5 nights at the northern Michigan resort, Boyne Mountain. This is a ski, golf, and water park resort – and our unplanned trip in late April came at the time when most of these activities were down. All but the deepest snow on the ski slopes had melted, and the golf courses, historical museums, and other local attractions were all scheduled to open on the first Monday of May.
Well, it’s not like we ski or golf, anyhow…
We spent most of our time hiking in the various open public lands in the north country. We visited a few state parks – Young State Park just north of Boyne City, and Northport / Leelanau State Park on the Leelanau peninsula. But most of our time was spent exploring the Jordan River Valley, which we either accessed directly through seasonal roads in the surrounding state forest, or via the Deadman’s Hill Overlook or Warner Creek Trail.
Just driving 250 miles north, and getting closer to Lake Michigan, was like taking a time machine back a few weeks into the very early spring. The northern woods were full of Hepatica, which was blooming at its peak. Trout Lily carpeted most of the Jordan River Valley, and was just starting to open up at the end of our stay. Trillium were also abundant, although they were just beginning to bloom. The trees were just starting to bud and send out new leaves, which gave the forest a light and airy feel, with warm colors.
The Jordan River itself proved to be a great photographic subject. Not a large river, but crystal clear and full of little islands. The river is a great trout stream, and a state fish hatchery is located in the Jordan River Valley.
The early spring setting created some interesting light and color effects. The dried grass and leaves created a golden hue, offset by the pale greens of emerging tree leaves and the deep greens of the pines and arborvitae that dotted the landscape. Marsh Marigold bloomed along the river’s banks, and numerous logs extended out into the shallow water, making perfect platforms for getting out into the river for shots of the islands.
The spring landscape, sun dappled water, and grassy islets certainly made for some great subject matter.
The Skegemog Swamp Pathway was another easy walk. The trail follows an abandoned railroad bed into the swamp, ending at an elevated observation platform. The swamp itself was an interesting setting – a great combination of living and dead trees; water, mud, and vegetation. We only spent an hour or so on the trail, but it still provided some great photo opportunities.
Many more shots from this trip:
Around the Jordan River:
Late autumn. The sun hangs in Scorpio for a few last days. The trees are bare, and each passing day is shorter and darker than the last.
Just a few days ago the trees still held their leaves, and autumn colors in the bright clear light of autumn sunshine. Here are a few final shots from the last couple of weeks of autumn – since these were taken, the trees have dropped all their leaves and the cloudy days of late autumn have taken hold.
My favorite of these shots are the two “Frosty Morning” images. These were take on one of the first cold mornings of the season. These were shot in the Allegan Forest, of course, and I wandered into a low land area where the frost was particularly thick. The morning sun was rising in the clear air, and its rays were hitting the higher branches of the nearby trees, resulting in a steady patter of water drops, as the frost high up melted.
With only a few minutes to take a few shots, I grabbed what I could and was amazed at how swiftly the frost passed. Well – a few moments were frozen in time.
These shots make the end of my 6 x 7 medium format color work for this fall – though winter scenes no doubt will call for some B&W work with this camera.
Two weeks since my last post – I’ve been down in the basement workroom much of that time, cutting out mats and mounting photos. All this in preparation for the Art Etc art fair last week – which seems to have gone pretty well based on the conversations had with visitors to my booth.
I guess I should talk about art fairs before they happen so people know about them. Someday I’ll work on the commercial side of all this…
Anyhow – in a totally non-commercial spirit, while shooting fall colors last week I stuck the Vivitar IC 101 Panoramic camera into my pocket, loaded with some rather stale Fuji NPS 35mm film. The ISO 150 NPS seemed ideal for most in the sun shooting situations (good thing since the camera has no exposure controls) and as I schlepped around with the Pentax 6x7 medium format rig, I used the Vivitar to take a few other than standard shots of the autumn foliage.
The camera did not always cooperate. It seems to be getting fussy about when to respond to shutter button – and whether to respond at all. And each roll is missing a few sprockets where there wind / drive mechanism jammed while advancing the film. But for a $2 camera it’s holding up pretty well.
Most of my favorite spots in the Allegan Forest are featured here. We have the Olf Farmstead, the Coreopsis Field, Laughing Bird Woods, and other select locations.
Not that you’ll find those names on a map. If a place doesn’t have a name, I give it one and use it. That may seem pointless, since I’m only the only person who knows the name, but then Adam was the only person who knew the names of things before Eve, and naming things is a birthright we inherit from him. So these names aren’t so much points of reference as they are, well, you know, names.
Shooting with the Vivitar 101 IC Panoramic camera got me thinking in panoramic terms. And so while in the Coreopsis Field I shot a few frames with the Pentax 6x7, composed with the intent that they be cropped to the same aspect ratio as the Vivitar. The result is this last image - the negative is about the size of two 35mm exposures, side by side, and the detail on an large print is exquisite. I was experimenting (I.e. using for the first time) with Kodak UC 400 – 120 format, of course. Grain is not much of an issue with the 6x7 format, and the colors really snap with this film.
So ultimately Vivitar IC 1010 toy camera not only kicked out a few good shots by its own right, but go me thinking outside the box a bit to put the 6x7 to different.
Well, at least thinking in terms of a different sized box…
And in what has to be a little bit of a milestone - I hit over 1,000 film scans this year while scanning this latest bast of film. Film may be waning - but over 1,000 images scanned in the last 10 months or so tells me its still an important medium - at least to me.
Ah, autumn… What a wonderful season.
The sweetness of autumn lies in the great brevity of this season. For weeks after the autumnal equinox, the days roll on in summer-like splendor. Then for a few brief weeks (or days) the trees turn, and paint the world with the vibrant colors of autumn foliage. And then the sun slips into Scorpio and everything changes – the winds howl, the leaves fly, and stark trees stand like dark skeletons under low skies.
Summer and winter are something – the twin poles of life and death, splendor and scarcity, light and dark. Spring grows into something – namely summer – and the line when spring moves into summer is so fine, in can scarcely be drawn or discerned.
But autumn dissolves into something. It holds up its head till it is overwhelmed, and then sinks into something. It is like a river bank, undermined by the swift current, that seems whole one second and then suddenly collapses as the current undermines it.
Well, like I always say – it’s easy to see when things are starting, but so hard to tell when they end.
So here are some autumn foliage photos. Tonight as I write this snow spits in the sky, a wind howls in from the west, and leaves just now starting to turn rip off the trees and fly carelessly away.
These shots are from last week, and from the Allegan Forest. The area has been subject to a couple days of sustained 40 mph winds as a cold front rolls on through. I suspect that when next I return to Allegan, the trees will be bare.
No matter – my last trip to the forest resulted in 10 rolls of 120 film shot – enough to keep the scanner busy for a while. Shot on Friday – I’ll pick it up from the lab tomorrow. Firearm deer hunting season starts in a few days – plenty of reason for me to keep out of the forest for a while.
So one more autumn blast is in store – a blast of photos that is – and that should be it for while.