I was reviewing some of my data files from film scans and came across this image of Smiths Beach Yallingup. It was made at sunset with my wooden field camera back in about 2002. The composition I envisaged was of the panoramic proportions above, although the actual film was a full sheet of 4×5 velvia. My initial plan was to publish the image in my Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park postcard series. Although I don’t normally crop my 4x5s this was the only camera I was using on that day, so I made a decision to “waste” half my potential film and make a panoramic from the final image.
I recall that the biggest concern at the time of making this photograph was trying to minimise the lens flare from the setting sun. The acute angle of the sun hitting the lens front element set up internal lens reflections taking on the form of the lense aperture blades. Under a focus cloth I carefully positioned the camera lens at the smallest angle to the sun that would just allow me to avoid the flare.
Checking my focus, I then stopped the lens down, closed and cocked its shutter. I placed a Grafmatic film holder in the camera back containing my 6 sheets of 4×5 velvia. Carefully pulling the double dark up from the Grafmatic back and then returning it. This moved an unexposed sheet of film to the front of the pack, ready for exposure. I waited momentarily by my tripod watch the surf and waiting for what I guessed would be the right sequence of waves.
Pressing the cable the shutter clicked and whirred for its one second duration. The exposure over, I pressed the lock catch on the Grafmatic insert, raising and lowering the internal film compartment. This action effectively shuffles the exposed sheet of film to the back of the film pack, leaving a fresh film on top for the next exposure.
What I had’t accounted for was that at such an acute angle to the horizon the sun’s position moves significantly in a relatively short period. 60 or 120 seconds later from checking my focus and positioning on the ground glass was sufficient time for the sun to move and cause lens flare.
I guess that is one of the difficulties in using a camera where you can’t continuously view the image through the viewfinder or in this case, ground glass (by virtue of the fact the film back has to be in position to make the exposure thereby obstructing and possible view). A possible fix is to use photoshop to edit the sun flare out, although this makes it a little too perfect for me. Although not initially intended I can live with the lens flare. It’s an authentic lens artefact from photographing into the sun and forms part of the quality of light that attracted me to make this image of Smiths Beach Yallingup in the first place.
For one reason or another the image was never used in my south west postcard range, although I have made custom prints of it.
Smiths Beach Yallingup: Wista field camera Rodenstock Grandagon 90mm lens 4×5 velvia 50 ISO f16 1 second.
Redgate Beach coastline Margaret River region coastline characterised by outcrops of granite. This particularly large massive boulder had a deep fissure running part way along its length. The threatening depth and angled geometry of the fissure combined with the neat layer of ocean just above it creates a visual incongruity. Adding to the drama is the approach of rain clouds across the ocean. The light was soft allowing full saturation of the orange lichen on the rocks mixed with the softer grey hues of granite. Film was 4×5 sheet velvia, Wista wooden field camera and a wide 90mm lens. Fissure Margaret River region is available as a 16×20 inch photograph and larger.
Sandy Cove Cape Leeuwin Augusta Western Australia is available as a 16×20 inch photograph and larger.
Sandy Cove Cape Leeuwin Augusta was developed in Tetenal E-6 in a trial. Cape Leeuwin Augusta is a rocky granite promontory renowned for the location of the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. This rocky finger that points into the ocean is seldom without wind or swell. There are tiny partially sheltered coves complete with their own miniature beaches. Their sand varies from coarse yellow granules to sand interspersed with finely ground shell grit. I believe the colour of the sand is this particular cove is partly due to mineral carried by ground water leaching out into the area. In the foreground a spring water swirl can be seen, its flow originating from beneath the sand. The film was 4×5 velvia, no colour filtration, 90mm Grandagon lens.
Tetenal E-6 Chemistry and Velvia 4×5 Trial
My initial trials of Tetenal E6 3 bath kit on Velvia 4×5 50ISO were successful. However, I intend to make the following modifications to the procedures set down by Tetenal.
What I want:
a one shot process that gives me a maximum film yield of 12 films per 1000ml Tetenal working solution.
ability to process 12 4×5 sheets of film at a time.
Modifications to Tetenal Procedures
First, I will be using a one shot technique, rather than the re-use technique. This will eliminate the need for adjusted development times from chemical activity depletion.
One shot has the potential to minimise the overall process time. It also avoids the risk of cross contamination of chemistry.
One shot avoids the problem of volume depletion of solutions, especially of the first developer. Incomplete return of all solution is no longer a problem.
I intend to use the chemistry to obtain the full yield of films as recommended by Tetenal. That is 12 films per 1Litre of working solution. This is equivalent to 48 sheets of 4×5. 4 sheets of 4×5 = one 120 film =one 35mm 36exp film.
For the developing I will be using a Jobo CPE2 processor. A Jobo 2550 drum holds 2 4×5 reels, with a maximun of 12 sheets of 4×5.
The maximum volume of solution for my Jobo is 600ml. This will ensure all film is in contact with the solutions during agitation.
I will be using only 250mls of working solution for each batch of 12 sheets. According to Tetenal, 1000mls of working solution has sufficient development activity for 48 sheets. By proportion, 250mls has enough activity for 12 sheets.
Each working solution, once made up according to Tetenal’s instructions, will then be further diluted with water to make a total volume of 600mls.
This act of dilution may require additional processing times which I will need to test. So far, my development times have been based upon visual inspection of my own film tests with a grey card.
When I get my next batch of chemistry I will test the times using my new proposed dilutions. If it all goes to plan I will post the results.
A few weeks ago I was visiting the Cape Clairault region, below Yallingup. It was one of those rare days on the coast, barely a whisper of a breeze. The clouds moved slowly across the sky and the sun shone sporadically through the small gaps. Up on the cliff tops there was the sound of crickets amongst the coastal heath and a wonderful sense of peace. Beautifully formed lines of waves broke upon the shore.
The view up and down the coast was expansive, in front of me was a tumbled down line of old wooden fence posts ending abruptly at the cliff’s edge. They once marked the extent of the property boundaries which have since retreated inland from the ocean, leaving behind this very narrow coastal strip, in parts only several hundred meters wide, as part of the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park.
At the start of my walk I had no real objective, other than to visit a small waterfall, something I have done many times in the past. A school bus parked at the walk’s commencement announced that there was going to be company on the track. I couldn’t help but reminisce about the first times I had walked this area, over 20 years ago, before there were walk tracks and wooden bridges. You could spend hours here and meet no one. This area is now part of the Cape to Cape track, although the route to the waterfall is a slight detour. Not far along I met a party of young primary school kids returning from their walk. How lucky these local kids are, to enjoy a school outing in such a location.
I had a relatively easy walk, along the cliff tops and then down into the sand dunes as I followed the passage of the small brook snaking inland. Reaching the waterfall, I had the place all to myself and I was delighted to see it was flowing, given the dry winter.
On my way back, I picked my way through the dunes towards the ocean, pausing frequently to absorb the view and perfect conditions. When I came to the mouth of the brook I made this image.
I go for long walks in the bush or along the coast with my wooden field camera, a few sheets of film, a tripod and sometimes a tent and food. I like to take my time to absorb the environment, to rediscover and to reconnect. My direct involvement with the materials and techniques for making an expressive photographic print is of importance to me. I continue to develop my own films and hand print all my black and white silver gelatin prints in my darkroom. read more