Sunday, October 31, 2010
I have a lot to prove on this trip. With 10 days in Zion National Park during peak fall conditions, I have ample time to scout locations, find good compositions, and walk away with at least one good shot. Even though I had the same amount of time, the same conditions, and the same equipment last year, I was disappointed with the shots I walked away with.
I often refer to large format as “personal accountability” photography. If the shot does not turn out, there is only one person to blame.
This year, I have a different strategy. I have learned a lot from my experience last year, and hope to return with a different mindset.
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.
In the days before the trip, I meticulously packed my gear, and accounted for every small piece of equipment that would prove invaluable in the field. This includes screw drivers, spanner wrenches, and extra batteries for my light meter.
I am taking 3 cameras with me on this trip: Ebony RW810 8×10 field camera, Toyo 45AII 4×5 field camera, and a Fuji GX617 medium format panoramic camera. My film stock includes Velvia 50 (a true classic), Velvia 100 (deals with long exposures very well), Provia 100 (blah color, but a very faithful film), and Kodak Ektar 100. This will prove to be my first trip shooting Ektar on the 8×10. As a result, I do not know how it will react in the tough exposure situations that I will use it in. I will be using it as a secondary film to either Velvia 50 or Velvia 100. After taking a shot on my primary film stock, I will shoot a sheet of Ektar. Who knows — maybe the Ektar will be the best film on this trip. I honestly do not know.
Hitting the Road
As usual, I got an early start. My alarm sounded at 3:30AM, and I was anxious to hit the road. It is only a 7 hour drive to Zion, but I prefer to drive in the dark for the first portion. This makes the drive seem much faster.
I arrived just before noon, set up camp, then visited the back country office to reserve a Subway permit for the next day. I learned that only 12 people requested permits for Monday. That’s a very good — low — number. The weather forecast was ideal for a hike to subway — sunny skies.
I spent the afternoon scouting the Kolob Terrace, and reservoir area. There are some wonderful aspen groves along the road, but they had peaked in early October. Most of the trees were stripped of their leaves.
In preparation for my subway hike the following day, I loaded my 8×10 film holders with Velvia 100, and Ektar 100. I have shot Velvia 100 at Subway before, and was happy with the way this film handled the extreme contrast. Although I’m not a big fan of Velvia 100 overall, it is a champ in low light. With Velvia 50, you need to start adding extra time to an exposure of only 4 seconds. By the time you reach a minute, you need to fully double your exposure time. On the other hand, Velvia 100 does not suffer reciprocity failure until you reach an exposure time measured in minutes.
By contrast, Kodak does not publish reciprocity failure numbers for Ektar 100. I will truly have to guess with this film — which sucks when a box of this film costs almost $100.
After loading the film, and packing my gear for the hike, I retired to my tent for the night. I would need to be at the subway trailhead very early the next morning.