a disappointing Lamaroo photoshoot

The general consensus is that film-based, large format photography will endure in the digital age due to its simplicity  i.e.,    relying on minimal technology to render a high-quality image. It is true that there is very little that can go wrong with a view camera from the standpoint of technology failure. 

The picture below  is the result of my first steps in the 8x10 Mallee Highway  silo project. This  is a silo at Lamaroo that I photographed whilst returning from Canberra in 2015.  I had scoped the silos  on my way to Canberra  a week earlier,  and I thought that they would be a suitable place  for me to start.   There was easy access  to the silos,  no security and the silos  suited  the afternoon light. 

As it was raining when I arrived in Lameroo, I waited in the Subaru for the squall to pass,  then  I carried  the Cambo monorail out to the location  to make a couple of photos. It started raining just as I finished the shoot, and it rained all the way on the drive back to Victor Harbor.  

The 19th century  photographic look of the  sculptural form of the silo imposed on  the landscape is what I am after. Though there  is  an emerging  climate of photographic nostalgia  for traditional photography and the craft of handmade images,  traditional photography for me  is  just large format + film;   rather than alternative photographic processes,  such as the wet plate  process,  tintypes or ambrotypes.  

Unfortunately,  my  old 240mm Schneider Symmar f5.6 lens could not cover the movements of the Cambo's raised front standard; the trees in the shade on the right of the silo have no detail;  the negative has streak marks from the tank development of Ilford FP4 Plus at the Analogue Lab in Adelaide;  and scanning  the negative  with the Epson V700 flatbed scanner  has caused  Newton Rings  to appear on the digital file.   

All in all this is a  disappointing,  and somewhat disheartening result. Sure  the project and equipment are a low budget, but I had  been hoping for better results than this.  

Leica snaps

The iMac at Encounter Studio is  now up and running, though it is still disconnected from the network. That connection requires tech support.

I scanned some recent black and negatives (6x6 and 35m)  last night  with the  flatbed Epson V700 scanner. The pictures  were made just before, and on the holiday at America River on Kangaroo Island.

The photo above was made with my  Leica M-4P, a Summicron 50mm lens, Ilford 50 ASA  black and white film. It only has minimal post processing Lightroom 4.

I had bought the 35m film by mistake --I was after 120 for the Rolleiflex---so I was trying it out to use up.  It is 20 years since I've made pictures with 35m black and white film. I'm pretty pleased with the  result--there is a nice tonal range.

Victor Harbor: on location

The three days at Victor Harbor have been frustrating in terms of photography.  I've been painting the lounge room  of  the   weekender whilst waiting for the conditions to be okay for a couple  large format  black and white pictures of roadside vegetation. One  was an early morning shoot, whilst the other  was  a late afternoon one.

It has been frustrating because when the southerly wind wasn't blowing  it has been raining early in the morning and late afternoon and then quite sunny during the day. Finally things fell into place late this afternoon after I finished painting a seciton of the wall-----there was little wind and it was overcast and fine. Ideal for the afternoon shoot that I'd lined up. 

I'd forgotten just how meditative 8x10  photography is. It takes a while to set the gear up  for the shoot,  and that means you really are in the moment.

I could feel the light changing as I tried to figure out how to use the new Pronto Professional  3 shutter for the Schneider 24mm lens that had recently been serviced. The  Prontor has no T position to hold the lens wide open  so you cancompose a representation of the objects in front of the camera. 

I finally figured out that I had to use a locked cable  release to do the same function as the T positon of holding the lens open using the  B position. The light was fading fast whilst I sorted things out.

reconnecting

I've just returned to Encounter Studio in Victor Harbor, South Australia today after a month's phototrip in Tasmania. Suzanne is in Paris,  I'm looking after Ari, and the digitial suite has a new modem. The old one died during an electrical storm whilst we were in Tasmania.

I've linked up with an Adelaide-based  Art Photographers Facebook group that is quite lively and free wheeling and I've ordered a new digital camera to replace the old Sony  that was stolen in Melbourne last November. 

I've been  trying to reconnect with the  work that I was doing in Victor Harbor before the Tasmanian phototrip. To my dismay I've lost any sense of what I was working on or trying to do.  So I looked at the negatives that I had scanned just before I left for Tasmania:

I have to face it. I'm not sure that I had a particular project with the Victor Harbor book.  What was I trying to do with it I asked myself? I didn't have an answer. So what was I doing then? There has been a workflow but I've just been been taking snaps around several themes.

So where do I go from here?

black and white

I've slowly returned to working in black and white and, in doing so, moving away from rock abstractions  to the scrub.  

It is easy to do when I'm using the  Rolleiflex SL66.  I can shoot in colour the scene in then switch to black and white  by  just changing the film back. It's slow black and white film--Ilford   PanF Plus 50 ---- that I use, as this camera is always used on a tripod.

The exposures are around generally 1-5 seconds as I take pictures in the early morning or just before  dusk  in the summer months. I was lucky this day as it stayed overcast for a couple of hours. So I raced back to the studio  and returned with the 8x10 Cambo monorail.  

I've always struggled with taking pictures of the Australian woodland, scrub or the bush. It is so messy and chaotic.  Then I saw Lee Friedlander's  pictures  of trees   from his flowers and trees series and saw how it could be done.

Here is an early attempt done just before  Xmas when I was down at Victor Harbor with Lariane  Foneseca,   a friend of Suzanne's who is a wonderful photographer. The melaleucas were on Rosetta Head, or The Bluff as the locals call it.

I   exposed a couple of  8x10 picture of these trees but I've yet to send the negatives to Blanco Negro  in Sydney to be processed. I'm inclined to return and do some pictures that are  closer up.