Colorado Plateau Trip: Day 3

Vertigo: May 2010 (Velvia 50 | Nikkor 300mm | Ebony RW810)

Tuesday May 4, 2010

It was a calm morning.  That’s exactly what I needed for my shot.  My 8×10 camera was already perched on the edge of the cliff.  The focus and lens movements were already set.  All I needed to do was put the lens on, set the exposure, and insert the film holder.  Since this was going to be a very high contrast photo, I planned on using an experimental technique of a double exposure (one before sunrise, one after), to help increase the brightness levels of the dark tones.  I shot that exposure on Velvia 100 because of the better reciprocity failure, and the fact that it is a faster film.  My exposure times were very reasonable.  I followed that shot with 2 more.  Rather than using a double exposure techique, these two other shots were taken with a normal single exposure.  I shot one on Velvia 50, and the other on Velvia 100.

For those that are unaware of these different types of film, Fuji Velvia is a highly saturated color slide film.  It’s a popular choice for landscape photographers because of the fine grain, and brilliantly saturated color.

While taking the photos, I ran into a familiar problem.  I only have 2 arms. Sure, some people might consider this to be normal, but as a photographer, I would really appreciate a third limb.  Most of my exposure times are in the range of 5 seconds or longer.  This means that the lens’ built in timer is of no value.  It can go as slow as 1 second.  Anything slower than that requires manually opening and closing the shutter.  With a stop watch in one hand, and the cable release in the other, I do not have the ability to block the direct sun from striking the front element of the lens.

At  Toroweap this time of year, the sun rises almost directly in front of my camera lens.  This makes it very difficult to block the lens flare that will destroy the contrast of my photo.  When I was at this same location last September, I was able to cock my head to the side, and use my wide brimmed hat to shade the camera lens.  I could simply sit next to the camera and get the job done.

I had mixed feelings after taking the shot.  It may very well turn out, but the problem of the rising sun flaring the lens is quite significant.  I’m sure I could have figured out how to build something to block the sun for the next morning, but I didn’t want to “waste” more film on speculation.  At $20 a shot, it adds up fast.  I’d rather wait to see how these shots turned out, then return at a later date with a new plan.

I drove back to my campsite, then decided to break down my tent and head to the next location.

I headed back to the main highway (62 miles away), then stopped by Kanab Utah for gas and lunch.  From there, I headed East to the Paria area.  I have been there before, but this time I had a panoramic film camera in tow.  My goal was to scout around, and see if I could find a shot.

After spending a few hours scouting around, I came to the conclusion that my shots were limited at this location.  The problem is that my panoramic camera has a very wide angle lens, and the beautiful red, white, and blue cliffs at Paria need to be shot from a distance with a long lens.

Sunset was only a few hours away, so I drove to a familiar campground — Stateline Campground. Sitting upon the Arizona/Utah border, this campground is very close to the wire pass trail head. My goal for the next few days was to concentrate my efforts in Buckskin Gulch — a location that has been very productive for me in the past.

3 Responses to “Colorado Plateau Trip: Day 3”

  1. Zion 2010: Day 1 « Ben Horne Photography Says:

    […] It often takes me 3 trips to a location before I walk away with a shot that I am satisfied with.  This is certainly true for Toroweap. […]

  2. Richard Says:

    What camera movements did you use for the toroweap shot? I would like to get an ebony RSW45 that only has front tilt and rise. Do I need more movements for landscape photography? Thanks -R

    • Ben Horne Says:

      I used a combination of front fall + front swing. I used the fall to help maintain a reasonable perspective, but I still needed to angle the camera downward a bit because of my angle. The front swing was used to maintain critical sharpness from the foreground (left side) to the background. On a 4×5 with swing, a shot like this would be a piece of cake. On my 8×10, it took some massaging to strike a balance between foreground and background. I spent a lot of time fine tuning the swing to maintain detail on the far right side. That’s why it was nice to setup my camera the day before. 🙂

      This is one of the few photos where I’ve ever used dominant swing. In most cases, it’s just a matter of tilt, and maybe a bit of rise and fall. For a photo like this on 4×5, you could likely make do without front swing by stopping down a ways, but the swing made this one easier. By in large, lacking front swing is not a big issue, but there are times when it does come in handy.

      The more I’ve worked with LF, I’ve learned to appreciate rear movements as well. You can use them to tweak the size of a foreground in relation to the background. Again,t his is something you would be missing on that camera, but if you have never used those movements before, you can’t really miss them.

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