Print of the Month May 2008

08 Dream Lake

08 Dream Lake

Dream Lake – Colorado

The Rocky Mountain National Park is truly one of the most beautiful parks in the country. The photographic opportunities here are endless and constantly changing.

On a recent trip to the Rockies I decided to make the short 1½-mile hike to Dream Lake. I was off to an early start knowing from a previous trip that the lighting looks best in the early morning. Hallet’s Peak in the background rises a “mere”12,700 feet. Fortunately the hike begins at Bear Lake at an elevation of nearly 9,500 feet but rises quickly another 500 feet through Aspen stands and a Spruce forest. The hike is relatively easy and the beautiful scenery along the way is an added bonus.

Photographers should start this hike at sunrise. The trail will take you will past Nymph Lake but don’t stop here, it’s best to continue the hike up to Dream Lake. If you arrive too late the entire scene will be in direct sunlight and give your photographs a flat look. I prefer the side lighting and the shadows it will create. On the return trip back down is a good time to check out Nymph Lake.

Once you arrive at Dream Lake you have several options. You can stay at a lower elevation to the lake and photograph the reflection of Hallet’s Peak. The reflection can make a nice foreground. Another option is to climb to the higher elevation as I did in this instance. I found the fir trees made a nice foreground but it was very important to keep the trees tops from intersecting rock formations in the center of the image. So I had the 5 x 7 view camera elevated to the max while I stood on a log to elevate me to the max. I was happy to have my viewing card in my pack. I put it to good use before setting up my camera.

I used an orange filter to enhance the blue sky which required a two stop adjustment in exposure. Placing the shaded trees on the left on Zone III my exposure was f-32 at 1sec. I was fortunate to have frequent pauses in the breeze. My foreground fir trees would sway freely in the wind and my orange filter changed the exposure to f-32 for 4 seconds. I was patient and the wind cooperated.

While teaching at the recent Smoky Mountain Photography Workshop I encountered a similar exposure dilemma of a scene that a student had composed. Another student asked why not open the aperture two stops to f-16 to compensate for the orange filter? It was a good question. I explained that at f-16 the foreground would go soft and that with the depth of field table one can calculate the minimum aperture required to keep the foreground and background sharp and in focus. This was a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn more about depth of field while actually making the photograph and how to avoid mistakes that will prove disappointing later when the print is enlarged.

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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