Just off of Highway 70. I went through here on my way to Green River (hope I’ve got that right . . . I’m not doing any fact-checking.)
Up to this point in time, this negative was completely unworkable: incredibly contrasty for starters, but the worst things were the innumerable dust specks and scratches marring the surface.
There were black specks caused by dust on the film before being exposed, and there were white specks caused by dust settling on the negative after being developed. In a wet darkroom, white specks can be somewhat ameliorated by "spotting," an incredibly tedious process done by hand. Black specks were even trickier, requiring a sharp knife and a keen eye. And black scratches? Forget about it.
Of course I've now removed all those defects using Photoshop . . . took about 15 minutes.
Another 4x5 photo from my Utah snow experience. Somewhat illustrative of the composition issue that I’ve had with view cameras:
—Too much blank sky up at the top.
—Tree sticking into the blank sky area.
—Everything just a little bit jumbled-up.
Don’t know why I might have thought having that much sky in the photo would be a good idea.
I guess that the novelty of photographing in falling snow, plus the challenge of manipulating a heavy view camera on top of an equally heavy tripod, plus having to view the scene through the ground glass back of the camera . . . don’t know.
This is the first time I’ve actually worked on the negative . . . at least in Photoshop I could darken the sky without darkening the tree, and increase the contrast in just the lower part of the pix.
Below is a shot of myself with the Toyo-Field 4x5 taken the prior afternoon. Notice the sunlight and the small cloud in the sky. Cliffs in the background are the same in both pix. And the tree!
Photos: Cliffs in Snow—Utah, 1996; Mike with Toyo-Field 4x5—Utah, 1996
Lagunitas Creek has at last begun to flow. The fish ladder (on the left hand side of the above photo) at Roy's Pools (near the golf course in the San Geronimo Valley) is open for business, but we will have to wait and see . . . it’s a little late in the season . . .
Photos: Lagunitas Creek—Marin County, 2009; Fish Ladder, Lagunitas Creek—Marin County, 2009
At least, I think this was taken in Utah. Yes . . . it must have been Utah. Not yet a geezer, I was camping in a very pleasant Forest Service campground, on my way to New Mexico, blue skies all around.
That night I slept in the back of the truck. Early next morning as I groped outside in the dark my hands encountered something wet and icy on the bumper: snow. I got dressed, made coffee and stood around in the falling snow until the morning light gradually brought some clarity.
At that point I realized that I had a unique opportunity: I had to get out the view camera. I lumbered around the campground taking pix, including the one above, then packed up and moved on under a leaden sky. Just before leaving I took a photo of the Dodge using my 35mm.
The interesting thing is that up to now I’ve never been able to make a satisfactory print out of the juniper negative, because I couldn’t boost the contrast sufficiently without overexposing the snow. However, in Photoshop you can do just that!
Photo: Juniper, Snow—Utah, 1996; Dodge Truck in Snow—Utah, 1996
The first is an early morning shot of dune grass looking north. I took three vertical photos and combined them in Photoshop.
Second one was taken in the town of Point Reyes Station, where the Bovine Bakery (of morning bun fame) is located. After purchasing my coffee and morning bun I drove over to the Point Reyes Visitors Center where I was able to view a Western Bluebird!
A close inspection will reveal the limited depth of field. I focused on the trees, and they’re sharp enough, but the far forest is not. It’s interesting, and just a little ironic, that a lot of the commentary on photo blogs today concerns the concept of "bokeh," that is, the out-of-focus areas in a photograph. Its quality, how to get it, and so forth. Ironic because we had to go through hoops in the past in order to get even acceptable depth of field, but now the complaint is that most of the smaller digital cameras have too much depth of field.
Also, there were some sunlit patches that were coming out as completely white—"blown highlights" in today’s lingo. I dealt with this by using the cloning tool in Photoshop, but of course I wouldn’t have been able to effect a similar fix using an enlarger.
Going through my contact sheets, it’s a little dismaying to see how few of my old 4x5’s are satisfactory. I think now that I must have had trouble getting good compositions due to the limitations of viewing the subject through the camera’s glass back—everything was shown upside-down and reversed under an unwieldy black cloth.
This hotel is located in Staunton, Virginia. I didn’t stay there, I was just passing through on my way to North Carolina to sample some authentic pulled pork.
The hotel's web site has more elegant-looking photos. Apparently it's been renovated since I was there.
And yes, today is the 200th birthday celebration of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. The photo hopefully captures some of that Civil War feeling, displaying as it does the crumbling and fading name of a Confederate general.
Anyway, we parked. While the members of the Diners’ Club explored the restaurant, I got out my Sony R1 (no longer in my possession) and snapped a photo of this sheep. Black and white seems to work better than the original color.
A short distance down the Embarcadero the Bay Bridge looms overhead, with a lone seagull bobbing below. We’ve seen the lone picturesque seagull before . . . I think that this is the same seagull following me around.
Also found: old abandoned pilings, with seagull sentries, alertly eyeing the solitary passerby. You know, the one with a digital camera sporting an articulated LCD.
In San Francisco last week for a Meeting with James (consisting of red wine, on my part, and martinis on James’ part.) I took an early ferry in so I could have a chance to wander along the Embarcadero with my trusty Olympus C-8080.
Finally, after a very long dry spell, some rain has finally started to fall in Marin County. I drove over White’s Hill to the San Geronimo Valley, parked the truck, put the camera on the tripod, got out the umbrella and set out for a short hike through the redwoods in the rain.
(Start photo musings.) I wonder . . . the new Nikon SLRs are, supposedly, quite good at higher ISO ratings, meaning that maybe a Nikon D3x user wouldn’t have required a tripod. Don’t know. My own theory is that I will only use a tripod when I have to . . . I’ve found that I have a much greater percentage of "keepers" with hand-held shots than with tripod-based shots. Note to self: expand upon in future entry. (End photo musings.)
But in the gloom and wet of the redwoods, I needed a tripod . . . and an umbrella. For this shot, I used an Olympus E-510, with an ISO rating of 200. Aperture: f20. Shutter speed: 1.20 seconds.
Still at Limantour. Back at the beach, the sun just making an appearance, the camera hand-held. I took this photo at the 12mm (24mm equivalent) position. I must say, the horizon line looks a little strange. Not straight, of course. But not nicely curved either. I think that this is what Wrotniak was referring to in his review of the 12-60 Olympus zoom lens:
Note how the straight edge has been distorted into a snake-like shape; this is a rare case where the first-order (really: quadratic) distortion has been quite well corrected at the expense of higher-order terms. I bet, a result of aspheric lens surfaces.
We may say, then, that at 12 mm the distortion is of mostly barrel type, very soon turning into pincushion; all the time well under control. While a set of prime lenses could deliver better, it would not be so easy in a 5× zoom, starting at a wide angle like this. I consider this a very good performance; for comparison, the Leica Vario-Elmar 14-50 mm F/3.8-5.6 shows about twice as much barrel distortion at 14 mm than this lens at 12 mm.
I got up quite early last Saturday and left the house while it was still dark in search of early morning pix at Pt. Reyes.
I arrived at the Limantour beach parking lot about a half hour before sunrise; the temperature was in the 30’s. As I got out of the car, the sound of waves sounded through the chilly air. I retrieved the tripod from the trunk, affixed the camera and set off down the trail.
First in view was this scene of a marsh reflecting the coming sunrise.
Taken during one of our periodic trips to California’s central coast. At San Simeon State Park you are required to sign up for various tours focusing on one part of Hearst’s San Simeon estate (can’t remember which tour we signed up for).
The weather was wonderfully misty, resulting in gray overcast reflections. In retrospect, I should have worked the scene a little more since this is the only shot that was a keeper.