Thursday, August 20, 2015

35mm B/W, Plaquemines Parish

Some results from a recent Saturday spent shooting in lower Plaquemines Parish, around Venice, looking for a few wetland-y photographs to add to the pile for The End of the Great River. I have no idea what motivated me to shoot an entire roll with a dark red filter, but I left it on for the whole day. The film is Kodak Tmax 400 (the old Tri-X Pan film), and it's gotten a little too grainy for its own good, or too grainy for 35mm. I think from now on it's going to be worth the few extra bucks for Agfa APX 100, which to my eyes has far more variety in tones, and practically non-existent grain, even for 35mm. But anyway here are six of the Tmax 400 roll that didn't turn out looking like a Rorschach test. The red filter really only works in bright open sunlight, otherwise it's useless. In the shade, the blacks have no variety at all; an exposure made under the pavilion at Venice Marina worked OK (seen below), but I made six or seven shots under shady oaks at Fort Jackson and they turned out to be trash. (In the future, along with the Agfa APX I'll go back to the medium yellow filter, which allows far better variety of tones, while giving the desired effect of darkening the sky and giving it some detail.) What I got out of the day was that in using the dark red filter, stopping down evened out the exposure and the difference between the sky and the ground. The second photo here was taken on the tripod from my pickup truck flatbed; it metered at 1/60 @ f/8, but that exposure left the sky too bright with no cloud detail and a slightly blown out horizon, even though the central patch of marsh grass looked great. Stopping down to f/11 fixed the problem. At the time I thought I might be on to something, so I bracketed exposures like that for the rest of the day, and the stopped-down frames were always the ones that looked better. The old Canon F1 can still be a nice little camera when it wants to be, and I'm still hooked on the big clack it makes when pulling the shutter, louder than cocking a 12-gauge shotgun.