Print of the Month June 2007

080 Aspens in Aspen

 080 – Aspens in Aspen

I find trees make interesting subjects to photograph.

As you hike through some of the hills in Aspen, Colorado you will of course see many aspen trees. Searching out individual trees with interesting shapes, or groups of trees with interesting forms it becomes apparent that many trees have something of a personality. For example, the large overpowering oak tree that spreads its branches creating beautiful forms, almost commands a certain respect and awe.

So I’m sure you can see why it is fun to search out these interesting personalities.

Autumn is a great time of the year when the aspen leaves are changing color. Yellow leaves against a blue sky are great for color contrast. In black and white photography we can make the yellow leaves white by using a yellow filter creating contrast against a darker sky. In addition, the yellow filter will darken a blue sky.

The object of course is to find a group of trees that will create a nice photographic composition. This group of trees caught my attention because of the position of the sun. With the sunlight off to the side and a bit behind the trees it created a back lighting on the leaves. Also of interest to me were the smaller, more delicate trees in the background in contrast to the larger trees in the foreground.

I positioned my camera to allow as many of the smaller trees to be visible, not hiding them behind the larger trees. There was considerable distance between the foreground trees and the smaller background trees and I wanted to keep them all in focus. Compressing the scene or bringing the background trees closer to the foreground would add visual impact. To accomplish this I used a longer lens, my 450mm on my 5 x 7 camera.

On the base of my camera I have a small ruler, which is used to measure the difference in focusing distance between the foreground and the background of a scene. This measurement was 12mm. I then refer to my depth of field table to find the aperture required for maximum depth of field. With this focus spread I needed f-45. Now I could calculate my exposure.

A subject with back light can present complex exposure calculations and is often difficult to meter. If the light source is allowed a direct path into the light meter or your camera, your readings will be 3 or 4 stops off. Fortunately I was using my Minolta 1 degree light meter. Shading it from direct sunlight it was easy to measure the light reflecting from the darker sections of the bark of the trees.

The darkest area of the front tree metered an EV of 10. I did not want this small area to go completely black so I placed it on Zone III allowing for some detail in the shadows.

My base exposure was f-45 at ½ second. Adding a yellow filter required that I open one stop or change exposure to f-45 at 1 second.

While waiting for the wind to settle down and eliminate movement in the trees and leaves, I took the time to meter for the highlight value. The white section of the aspen trees facing me measured an EV of 13 ½. So I marked this negative for a Normal +2 development.

It took approximately 45 minutes to find my camera position, set up, meter the scene, wait for the wind to stop and expose the negatives. Now I now if I had my 35mm camera or a digital camera I would have had the job done in much less time. But I would not have had the 5 x 7 inch negative to print. This large negative allows me to print 48” x 96” inch murals with incredible clarity.

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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