Wednesday, August 8, 2012
All the driving to and from the Patriarch Grove over the past three days left my gas tank a bit low. I decided it was wise to drop down into Big Pine, fuel up, then return to the mountains. On most trips, I bring extra fuel to extend my range, but my proximity to civilization made that unnecessary for this trip.
I returned to the Patriarch grove around 10:30AM, and immediately hiked to my sunrise shooting location. I chose a semi-long lens to help emphasize several trees on the slopes behind my chosen tree. From under the dark cloth, I watched on the ground glass as several marmots scampered about on the rocky hillside — My presence didn’t seem to bother them. I set up the composition, focused the shot, then locked everything down.
I covered my camera with a trash bag, and weighed it down with a stuff sack full of rocks. My camera would spend the night on the slope despite the probability of afternoon thunderstorms.
With tomorrow morning’s shot now setup, it was time to shift gears, and focus my attention on finding a worthy subject to shoot with my Fuji panoramic camera.
Unlike my 8×10, the GX617 is not bothered by wind. I’ve shot in in rain, snow, and windy conditions without issue. This gives more creative freedom, and allows me to capture photos that would otherwise be impossible on my 8×10.
When I bought this camera on the used market in 2010, I had difficulty matching its abilities with my own creative vision. I rely heavily on foreground in most of my photos, and the very nature of a panoramic camera means that there is no immediate foreground. The midground becomes the foreground, and the background dominates the composition.
I often feel limited in my attempts to cram an entire scene in the viewfinder of this camera, but the results look far from that. They feel like a breath of fresh air. It’s an odd feeling really, but I really enjoy the results from this camera. Not only is it fun to shoot with, but it also allows me to capture truly chaotic scenes that would be difficult to compose with a traditional aspect ratio.
As the afternoon progressed, dark clouds gathered to the south, and the air was heavy with the smell of rain. I knew I was in for a treat.
Dark clouds spread across the sky, and churned angrily overhead. A storm to my north dropped heavy curtains of rain onto the valley below. The sound of thunder tore through the crisp mountain air.
I set up a shot with my GX617 — a sweeping panoramic view of the Patriarch grove that showcased many of my favorite subjects. I composed my shot of a large Bristlecone Pine, flanked by living trees on both sides. The shot was set against a rolling slope of crumbled dolomite. I watched as the storm rolled overhead, and shot 2 rolls of Velvia 50 (3 if you count the roll that I loaded backwards).
As much as I love the GX617, I make a mistake nearly every time I use this camera. There’s just so much to think about with it. I almost always forget to calculate for the center filter on my first exposure, and I’ve been known to advance all the way through a roll of film by accidentally pressing the shutter button too much.