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Tuesday, November 4

Singular Image: Two Trees, Ashludie


OM2N, 70-150mm Zuiko, Adox Silvermax, Firstcall film developer

This shot took me the best part of a week to get. Lately, I've been dropping Cath off at work each morning and we've passed this field under a variety of weather conditions. On the way home, I usually stopped off to see what the scene looked like through my viewfinder.

Most of the time, there was something missing. Maybe it wasn't wet enough or there was too much going on in the sky. At the back of my mind, I had Henri Cartier Bresson's photograph (below) which has always been a favourite of mine. The key to this pic is the blank sky: clouds would have ruined the simplicity of the shot and its perfect balance.


My patience paid off on Friday when there was enough water in the field and a whitish sky. The next problem was actually taking the shot. I wanted to use the 50mm on the OM2N but it wasn't long-enough so it was the 70-150 f4 Zuiko that was called into action. This is my second copy of that lens. My previous one was a nice lens but I buggered it up (if you remember my recent post about the Rolleiflex SL66E then you might see a pattern emerging) in trying to remove some haze from inside it.

It suffered a mechanical failure somewhere that rendered it effectively useless. So I had a look on Ebay and found one that was being sold locally for a reasonable price. It's OK but it's not as good a copy as my earlier Zuiko,  pre-Bruce. Consequently, the photograph I've published here isn't the sharpest pic I've ever taken.

Matters were made worse by the general gloominess of the day in question, the fact that the zoom's maximum aperture is f4 and by the 100 ISO film I had in the camera. I was getting something stupid like 1/30th at f4 at about 80mm. Not good, especially with no tripod to hand. I eventually found a fence post that was in approximately the right position and that provided a bit of support. Still, I don't like shooting at those sorts of speeds on any lens, let alone a tele zoom.

I quite like the final image. It's just about sharp enough and, at least on my monitor, the sky and its reflection are light enough not to interfere with the simplicity. The water-logged furrows are essential to the photo. I took a couple earlier in the week when there wasn't as much water around and the dark, highlight-free earth in the field is too heavy and oppressive.

If I hadn't put the SL66E out of operation for at least a wee while I might have fancied reshooting this one as it lends itself quite nicely to a square composition and the 150mm Sonnar would have been just about the perfect lens for it. Still, there won't be any leaves on these trees for a few months and we get plenty of rain in the winter to make the ploughed furrows sparkle so provided I can get the big Rollei fixed in time it might still be a possibility.

8 comments :

Pavel said...

It is inspiring to see your love of the craft of film photography, Bruce. That particular photo of Cartier-Bresson is one of my favorites as well. Your's however would be the one I would chose, between the two, on my wall. Patience well rewarded. Don't stop.

Nick Jardine said...

Hi Bruce.

Love this image. Simple, graphic lines, high contrast.

My immediate thought is get the 5x4 out the box, but I can't remember what lenses you have for it.

Doug H said...

Great image. Just enough detail in the sky to suggest clouds moving thru. Reminds me of the minimalist work of Michael Kenna.

Folker said...

YES!
This one should hang on my wall ;-)

Bruce Robbins said...

Thanks for the kind comments everyone. Just remember, though, that I wouldn't have got that pic if I'd still been working. That's one of the big benefits of taking a voluntary redundancy package. One of the drawbacks is never having any money...

Nick Jardine said...

Doug mentions Michael Kenna and it made me think of that great video of him working in Hokkaido, Japan.

If you haven't seen it, here's a link (hope thats ok to post Bruce.)

http://www.michaelkenna.net/interviews/hokkaido_j.html

I like the idea of revisiting the same scenes year after year which Kenna does with his striking images of the tree. (watch the video!)

I think you're on to the same kind of thing here Bruce with this image. Why not just go back once a month, just to take that singular image ?

Thats a great project for 5x4 shooting, it's not so regular that you find yourself humping equipment everywhere all the the time but just enough that you have a regular schedule and it'll make you use the equipment you have at hand without it gathering too much dust in the cupboard.

It gives you a little project, it changes the focus of your practice in that it becomes about the collection of images rather than the individual. It suits our climate because we have such changeable weather that getting a good variety isn't problematic.

Might help you avoid the getting the 'boredom blues'

Stefan Eisele said...

Wonderful picture! Gratulations Bruce!

Anonymous said...

I love it. Brilliant composition.The two trees and their reflections along with the furrows keep the eye circulating within the frame. Frame Worthy.
Thanks for sharing.