Kicking Horse River – Canadian Rockies
The Kicking Horse River was so named by Sir James Hector, who was kicked by his horse (and survived) in 1858 while exploring The Rockies to learn the best transportation route through the mountains for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
One hundred and forty two years later I was exploring the same river, but without a horse.
I’m sure the river has changed a bit during this time but I can’t imagine it looking more beautiful than it did on this occasion.
This was one of those locations you can point your camera in any direction and make a nice composition. But a nice composition is just that. As a photographer we are looking to create impact with our compositions. When the surrounding area is so beautiful finding just the right composition can be a challenge. Using my viewing card I explored many ideas. I knew I wanted to create depth with this image and that meant I needed to find an appropriate foreground.
Venturing out onto the flat but very slippery rock formation I was able to find my composition. Again I found my viewing card helpful in isolating my image and removing many of the beautiful but distracting elements. My foreground became the rock formation I was standing on.
I set up my 5 x 7 Deardorff camera making sure the tripod was secure on the rock base. My first option was to use my 180mm lens but this did not leave enough of the foreground in the image and I wanted to include the smaller but very beautiful Mt. Dennis on the left for balance. So I changed from the 180mm and installed my 135mm lens. This would be equivalent to a mm lens in 35mm camera format.
Now began the critical job of focusing the camera. One of the key benefits of a view camera is its ability to focus in a way to create tremendous depth of field in was not possible with 35mm SLR. The front standard of the camera incorporates the lens board and will tilt upward and downward along the center of the lens axis. If the lens is positioned just right it will allow the photographer to maintain sharp focus in the foreground as well and the background.
Now I needed to determine the exposure. I looked for the darkest area in the scene and found the darker shaded trees to the right and across the river. This metered f-32 @ 1/2sec. Or an EV (exposure value) of 11. Placing this area on Zone III gave me my base exposure of f-64 at 1/2sec. I made a quick note of the highlight value of the brightest water, which was f-128 @ ½ sec or only 4 stops difference between the lightest and darkest areas. So a plus one or extra development was required to make the water white with detail in the final print.
For a final touch I will evaluate the scene and determine what, if any filter would enhance the final print. I had a very beautiful blue sky, which would appear white and blend with the white clouds without the use of a filter. I knew that an orange filter would sufficiently darken the blue sky creating the separation of the clouds without making it overly contrast or too dark. Further, I knew that this filter will help minimize “burning in” of the sky during the printing stage. You can accomplish a greater sense of drama by using a red filter but doing so would not give the viewer of the final print the same feeling I experienced when I visualized the scene. It was a beautiful day and I did not want to convey a feeling of eeriness or darkness often encounter with overuse of a red filter.
The negative is Kodak T-Max 400 and I developed it in T-max RS developer.
About the Print of the Month
The Print of the Month is a new print offered at an early-edition discount. Normal pricing must apply once the print is offered by a gallery.
The Print of the Month is a silver gelatin print, each one created by hand using traditional darkroom methods.
Prints are limited to 50 per edition.
Typically the Print of the Month is made from a T-Max 100 negative, which is processed in D-76 mixed 1:1.
Each fine art print is made by hand using Ilford-based double weight paper.
The prints are double fixed and selenium toned for longevity. They are then washed in a vertical print washer to completely eliminate any residue. Prints are carefully allowed to dry for two days. Next, each print is mounted on museum quality archival mat boards with acid-free mounting tissue. Although each print takes a considerable amount of time and meticulous effort, this archival printing and mounting process is the only way to ensure print permanence and collectability. Give it proper care and your print will last hundreds of years without fading.
My signature and the print number are visible on the mat, below the print.
The Print of the Month offers a 50% savings off the normal investment.