Bracken Ferns Augusta

framed 74.5cm x 61.5cm | image 40cm x 50cm | 1 of ed10 | $1500

Bracken Ferns detail, near Cape Leeuwin, Augusta.

I was up walking along a quiet country lane before sunrise enjoying the cool of the morning. This also happened to be the best time of the day to avoid bush flies. It had been hot the past few days and the flies had been overly friendly. A few more weeks and they would die off.

I came across a mass of bracken ferns. The curves of the bracken were graceful and delicate. A soft, even pre-dawn glow of light from the blue sky above lit the scene.

Print Availability

Bracken Ferns Augusta is available for purchase online. Bracken Ferns Augusta is a 40 x 50cm silver gelatin print, hand-printed by the author. It is dry-mounted onto 100% cotton museum board, then window-mounted behind a clear acrylic sheet. Framed in graphite tone aluminium it is ready to hang. Outer dimensions 74.5 x 61.5cm. Limited edition of 10, signed and numbered. Freight and insurance within Australia included.

I made this image just before the first rays of sunlight spread across the landscape. The gentle tracing textures and forms are revealed by the soft light. Had direct sunlight hit the ferns it would have destroyed this affect. This exposure took over half a minute in relatively low light.

In warmer months, I have to vary my darkroom routine to account for the heat. This means that I usually like to get to work early before the heat of the day sets in. During the summer, the window period for film development for me is shortened. It can take a while to catch up with a backlog of film.

So I was delighted when I viewed this morning’s processed black and white sheet films. As I peeled the wet sheets off the reel the beautiful tones revealed themselves. I rediscovered what I was photographing exactly one month ago and all the memories of the moment flooded back. Looking at the tones of the negative, I just knew I had to print bracken ferns, Augusta.

Developing films can be a bit of an adventure. You can never be absolutely sure what you have on film is what you see. I think I see more in the image than I remember at the time on the ground glass.

Consistency in film development

With tasks like film processing, it is important to be consistent. That means keeping the temperature of the developer constant with the use of tempered water baths.

It’s simple to do really, just add refrigerated water (during summer) to the room temperature tap water.  You may also like to use a pre-rinse your loaded tank. This can help adjust the temperature of developing tanks, film, and reels prior to the actual development process.

These days I just stick to a water bath and choosing a time of the day. It helps when you don’t have to fight too great a temperature differential between the room temperature and developer.

Obtaining the correct contrast in the final print requires careful balance in the highlight fern’s leaves. They contain texture but this can easily be lost with too much contrast. Likewise, too soft a contrast grade and the print will turn muddy.

Bracken ferns Augusta is hand-printed on 16×20 inch Fomabrom Variant III paper. This traditional fibre based paper is lightly toned in selenium for archival purposes. Bracken ferns Augusta is part of my silver gelatin print collection of south west Western Australia.

Wista 4×5 field camera with Kodak TMax 400 rated at 200, 150mm Nikkor lens, exposure approximately 45 seconds at f32

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Since 1989, Alex Bond has published cards, calendars, books, and posters under his imprint Stormlight Publishing. His images showcase the West Australian environment. Bond's handcrafted, silver-gelatin, fibre-based prints are personally made by the author in his darkroom.

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