Wednesday’s full moon was a sight not to miss with the conditions being just right for some spectacular photo opportunities. There are only a handful of times each year where the full moon will rise as the sun is setting to give that warm yellow glow. The weather was also perfect with clear blue skies as far as the eye could see. Mark your calendars for future reference and commit to being somewhere in the field!
My new Benro A3180T arrived this morning! Having recently made the swap to Arca-Swiss style mounts with my Benro B3 ball head (the bigger the better) I finally found a suitable tripod to match. Whilst I already use a very steady tripod (an old Benbo) it is not something to travel far with. The new flat folding series of tripods from Benro change this. They are sturdy enough for large medium format cameras and super telephoto lenses whilst their clever and simple design allows them to fold down flat. With no center column either, these are extremely ideal for traveling with both aluminium and carbon fiber models available.
As I settle down between trips with a dozen or so frames left on a roll of film, I am increasingly aware of two distinct processes that can lead to an image. Firstly, you have the journalistic approach. Travel light with a small camera and taking inspiration from your surroundings without any agenda. Creatively speaking you are free to capture anything, utilizing only ones knowledge of how best to work with the light at hand. Alternatively, you can strive to create an image with pre-conceived ideas and a vision of the final product (this can mean hours in a studio or days on the trail waiting for the right light). It is this last category that I find myself falling into currently as I try to finish that last roll, despite knowing the first will probably give a better image.
The difference between a good landscape shot and a great one is actually often the moon! Full moon dates for 2013 are; Jan 27, Feb 25, Mar 27, Apr 25, May 25, Jun 23, Jul 22, Aug 21, Sep 19, Oct 18, Nov, 17 and Dec 17. Make sure you take advantage of this year’s weather and seasonal changes to find the right light for your next photo.
Happy new year for 2013! Time to sort out all those new presents you have and plan the exciting adventures for the year ahead. I’m currently drafting my next trip to New Zealand, an incredible landscape at every turn. It’s been a few years since I was there (before I started all this film stuff in fact) so I’m keen to capture some of its lower latitude light on whichever camera I take. I’ve also just ordered a Benro B3 ball head for my tripod and will eventually swap out all my Manfrotto gear for the Arca-Swiss style brackets. I’ve got my eyes on a couple of new lenses, Nikon’s 24mm f2.8 AF-D and the indestructible 180mm f2.8 AF-D. This way I’ll be ready when I finally go back to being digital…
Fresh back from the lab and scanned in are my two rolls of Kodak E100VS from my recent trip to Nepal and Mt Everest. Here is one of the contact sheets. A few have also been placed in the gallery.
Having spent a great deal of time lately with my F4 in hand searching for a few great travel/landscape photos there’s a lot I’ve learnt about working with the kit you have. I gave myself a tough assignment by shooting film and only using three manual focus primes. I initially reckoned that I would use the 28mm most frequently then the 50mm and followed by the 200mm. How wrong I was! The majority of the slides I shot in the mountains were done on the 200mm f4 with the 0.6 ND grad I had for the 28mm (having a common 52mm filter size made a huge difference and evidence Nikon use to have your best interests in mind). In fact my wide angle had very little use at all which was a complete surprise. Which leads me to my point, always be prepared but keep an open mind. The three primes gave me enough latitude to never be wanting a zoom and restrictive enough that I had to really think about the composition of each picture. It worked for the most part (despite many many lens changes) and certainly encouraged some creativity. The 200mm was also a stand out in its usability though I am eager to get hold of a 180mm f2.8 ED for comparison.
As usual I also shot most of the film at dawn and dusk (iPhone was king during the day for quick unobtrusive recording of the surroundings with some great panoramas) which at altitudes above 3500m is really worth hanging around for. The colours encountered at high altitude and the behaviour of light are evidently stunning. None more so than last light on the Nuptse wall and the South West face of Everest. This use of film and digital actually worked very well as the iPhone let me get on with the day and save the effort for when it counted. That is, when it was very very cold!
KODAK has released an app detailing their film line up and some basic info (they also have a great Cinema Tools app for those still on motion picture film which is very useful). Whilst not aimed at the Australian market (nil info on where to buy and process KODAK film here) it’s a step in the right direction. If only they could keep their reversal film alive.
I’ve just returned to Australia after spending the last month in Nepal, mostly trekking in the Everest region. The lure of seeing the highest mountain on Earth along with many of the other high Himalayan peaks was an amazing experience. For serious pictures I used my Nikon F4 with a 28mm, 50mm and 200mm. For everything else I had an iPhone. Needless to say having dropped the film off to be developed I am keen to get the transparencies back and on the light table. The only other film shooter I saw on the trail sported a Nikon FM2, everyone else seemed to be hauling around the latest uninteresting DSLR offerings from either Nikon or Canon. Needless to say it was an incredible adventure and worth the effort if you have an interest or inkling to see this part of the world. There’s plenty for me to share and ramble about while I wait for my film to be processed…
It may be a surprise to some but 99.9% of all the film that I shoot is done so without a flash. In fact, currently all of the images in the gallery are flash free. I’m a natural light person as my work would indicate. However, this may all be about to change. Inspired by the work of Joe McNally and the possibilities of balanced fill flash, I grabbed a Nikon SB-28 cheap as well as a gold bounce diffuser and an off camera TTL cord. I’m no expert on this stuff especially as it is impossible to get instant feedback from film so I relied heavily on the brains of my F4. The result was very pleasing as I have never before warmed to the often harsh light of flash photography. From memory the shot above was taken with a 50mm f1.4 AI-S and -0.7 dialed into the SB-28. Keeping in mind this was taken in the warm light of sunset the effect from the gold diffuser is exactly what I look for in lighting subjects. I dare say this combination may be used much more by me in the future.