Print of the Month April 2008

136 Black Eyed Susan

136 Black Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan and Reeds

It’s exciting to see and feel the spring season. This month’s print may be just a bit early. Although the flowers may not be in bloom yet, I am trying to help spring arrive.

There may be times when you have not made any photographs in a while. You may not have attended any workshops and depending on your location the weather may have you feeling uninspired. It’s a worthy goal to photograph something every week and for some every day, but without inspiration it can become a challenge to pull out the camera bag and make some new photographs. But don’t dismay because sometimes the effort of pulling out the camera or viewing card, getting outside for a walk and looking at interesting or even mundane subjects may produce the needed inspiration.

Sometimes all it takes is a little exercise in seeing to get the ideas flowing.

A week before I made the Black-eyed Susan image I encountered one of those days that the weather did not want to cooperate. I had gone to a local park with my view camera, tripod, film backs and viewing card. I found several nice compositions but by now the light was beginning to fade. The wind was picking up and I knew that making a successful image would be nearly impossible. But I continued looking knowing that I could return when conditions were in my favor.

When I came upon this bunch of Black-eyed Susan’s and reeds I put the viewing card to work which encouraged me to choose a lower angle me to fill the sky with the reeds.

Composing the image in my mind and noting the direction of the sun I knew that this scene was best photographed during an afternoon sun. Due to the increased wind and direction of light I left the camera in my backpack.

One week later we had a beautiful day and I knew just where to go.

The sky was a light blue and needed to be toned down a bit. I considered using a red filter but that would have darkened the sky too much and caused a problem with the darker tops of the reeds. They would have blended in with the sky and the image would have suffered. The brightness of the sky needed to be toned down but only a bit. I elected to use a yellow filter, which darkens the sky and created contrast in the yellow flowers.

My EV (exposure value) was 13 from the carefully positioned grey card in the scene. Since I was using a 450mm lens I needed to use a relatively small aperture for greater depth of field but not so much depth that the distant background would be in focus which would then conflict with the reeds. I also tilted the lens down increasing sharpness in the foreground flowers.

Exposure was ½ sec at f-32. Those of you with zone dials might calculate an EV of 13 placed Zone V should be f-64 and you would be correct. But don’t forget I had a yellow filter which required one stop more exposure and my view camera bellows was extended enough to require an additional stop. I developed the T-Max 100 film -1 in D-76 1:1 to prevent the bright sky from going totally white.

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.


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