photographing in the winter

Now that the  5x4 Sinar is finally  up and running I have started to think about  doing some  black and white photography in the winter.  Given the long exposures required in low light,  it  would be  tripod based work  that can only be realistically  done in specific conditions--basically no rain or showers  and with little coastal wind.  

This black and white version  of some coastal granite formation in the early morning light  is one possibility.   I  had scoped these rocks  with the Sony a7 R111 digital camera, just before the first winter storm hit the coast of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula.  It was a very pleasant late autumn morning. 

This granite formation  in the winter light would be suitable  for  the Sinar f1 and the Schneider-Kreuznach 75m Super Angulon lens (multicoated). I could easily carry the camera gear and the  carbon fibre tripod  over my shoulder to this location, which  is just  west of Deps Beach.   I could walk there before sunrise with Kayla  on a poodlewalk, set up the camera,  and  then wait for the winter sun  to rise over Rosetta Head and  lighten up the granite. 

quartz and granite

I have been planning to photograph  this low level rock formation  for some time now.  I envisioned pictures  in both in colour made with a medium format film camera  (Rolleiflex SL66) and in black and white  made with a 5x4 Sinar monorail. Though the  granite/quartz rock formation  is  just past the western edge of Deps Beach,   and though it is quite accessible,  I keep on putting the photo session off.

I'm not sure why the procrastination,   as I pass this  location on one of my normal  early  morning poodlewalks with Kayla.   Making the photo  does require  me to use a  tripod with spreadable legs  so that it can  lie flat on the ground,  and that does mean carrying a heavy and bulky  Linhof tripod. That's a hassle. 

still life: seaweed

This is an image that came about from playing around in the early morning light on Dep's Beach. This  beach is between Petrel Cove and Kings Beach.  I was on a poodlewalk with Kayla at the time:

It's another macro image building on this beginning.  

Unfortunately for me the photo session ended abruptly as Kayla grabbed the seaweed  when I wasn't looking,  ran off with it and  then tore  it to pieces. 


 

two studies

I have been struggling with a bursitis shoulder over the Xmas break  and, as a result,  the photography  has been minimal. It has been limited to what I could do on the morning and evening poodlewalks along the coast. I avoided walking in the bush due to the brown snakes. As I could only carry and use light weight  cameras, the  photography has consisted mostly  of macro with  some  scoping for large format photosessions in the future.  

This macro of quartz on the side of a granite outcrop, which  was made  with my  old  Sony NEX-7, an old Lecia Summicron 35mm lens and  a  Voigtlander VM/E Close Focus Adaptor, raises a question:  could I make a 5 x4 version using a telephoto lens?

I am asking this because over the Xmas break I have been looking at some of  the seaweed photos made by Peter Dombrovskis, which are in the  Dombrovskis: Journeys into the Wild, exhibition at  the National Library of Australia (NLA). The kelp photos are stunning. Likewise the granite  the  sandstone and the quartz studies. These are wide angle views,  close ups and low-contrast light.  This collection is  wilderness imagery with a sense of sublime terror with its roots in  the nineteenth century. This body of work is definitely not nostalgic kitsch, an idealising  falsehood, or an eco-porn generating desire for touristic or vicarious consumption.   Nor is it premised on an equivalency between visible and unseen worlds.

macro

The advantage  of using the Sony a7 R111 with a 35mm Leica M lens and a Novoflex adaptor on the  poodlewalks is that I can photograph handheld in low light situations. The high ISO capability is something that I needed not all the tech  features as I use the camera in manual mode, as if it were a film camera.  It was still photography not video that I was interested in,  since video requires  expensive editing  software and it is a whole other world.  

The disadvantage of the Sony with a Lecia M lens is that I cannot do closeups of the objects that I see when walking along the beach or amongst the granite rocks.  I find this  frustrating as a lot of what I find  interesting along the littoral zone these walks  is in the detail. Photographing the detail   requires using a macro lens, which I do not have.  Up to now I use an old compact digital camera (the  Olympus XZ-1),  but I find the small sensor (10 megapixels) too limiting in terms of dynamic range,  tonality and  for post processing. 

So I have decided to use my old Sony NEX 7 camera that is sitting in a cupboard with a Voigtlander VM/E Close Focus Adapter, which   allows me to use  my Leica M lenses on both full frame & APS-C  Sony E Mount Cameras. I have just ordered the adaptor  from Mainline Photographics in Sydney.  It's a basic digital camera but this  combination provides me with the capability to do some handheld macro photography in soft light using a Leica M lens.

digital b+w

This is another in my low key and sporadic  experiments in  converting a digital colour file  made with a digital camera into a black and white image: 

The image of these granite rocks at Kings Head in Waitpinga  is soft and gentle,  but  it still has some tonality. What surprises me is that it is not  the usual muddy grey that normally  happens  when I have made  these kind of conversions from the digital  file produced by  my  older digital camera --a Sony NEX-7. 

I have found that the recently acquired Sony a7R111 is  much better in terms of producing a richer black and white tonality.  

5x4 photo session

The weather conditions were good this morning  for a 5x4 large format photo session along the coast early this morning.  There was some solid cloud cover, low tide and  little wind.  The weather forecast was for strong westerly winds and rain along the coast  today,  so I took a chance. 

I had  about  an hour on site with approximately 30 minutes carrying the gear to and from the site. I was able to make  2 photos  of different subjects out of the 3 with the Linhof Technika that I had planned, before  the conditions became  unsuitable around 8am.  This is a behind the camera photo of the second session:  

This is the only 5x4 photoshoot that I have done along the coast  since this  one  early in January:-- 3 months ago,  before I  had acquired the Sony A7r111. Basically I have struggled to find suitable subject matter for the large format photography, and  when I have find something, the weather conditions have not been suitable.   

granite formation

The changeable weather conditions of late  has provided a space  for me to explore the coast in the early morning light and  to  I scoping  for suitable subjects for some large format photography. In this instance it basically  5x4 colour using the old Linhof Technika IV or the Cambo 5x7 monorail.       

I haven't really found much to work with, but this  granite formation looking towards King Head and the wilderness lodge is one of the more promising possibilities that I have across.   

I haven't been doing much large format photography along the coast for a while --only hand held medium format lately. Hence the specific scoping.  Most of what I see in the morning ---eg., seaweed  amongst  granite rocks--is ephemeral, as it is usually  gone by the next morning.  It is either washed away by the sea  or blow away by the wind. 

Nor can I take the 5x4  or 5x7 out and hope that I come suitable seaweed to construct  a still-life.  It's only now and again that I find seaweed pods washed up on the shore. 

It is best to use subjects like granite formation and just wait for an overcast  early morning with little wind and soft  morning light. The large format then highlights  the tonality and colour in the granite. 

two versions of foam + granite

More digital black and white photography from stumbling up some foam amongst the coastal granite, just after the wet weather had eased.

This picture is a  straight conversion  from the digital file, as I am currently  unable to  access Silver Efex Pro 2  software on my  iMac, which is  running  the High Sierra Operating system. Unfortunately I have never found any software package that can produce black and white conversions that are as good as those created by Silver Efex Pro 2.

At least I am able to use the standalone Adobe Lightroom 6 that I recently purchased from B+H with my  recent film order on the  iMac.   I reckon it is a case of waiting  for a black and white conversion as there is good news around the corner: DxO has acquired the NiK collection and it's upgraded version will be released in mid-2018. I doubt that the software  will be free. 

DxO is a French company that performs extensive scientific testing on camera image sensors and lenses. The information and knowledge that DxO glean from their tests is used to produce a raw processing software packages called  – DxO Optics Pro.

on location: Petrel Cove

It took me three  attempts  over three days to photograph this rock pool at Petrel Cove:

My  historical baby Linhof camera--an old   Linhof Technika 70 --- had a mechanical problem  on the first morning as the locking mechanism wouldn't lock  the downturned folding camera bed so I could not focus;  the second morning it was raining; the third morning things finally came together.