I'll try to stay on message here. This pic was taken some years ago when I was using a Mamiya C330 TLR outfit. I also had an old caravanette that I used for extended trips to the Highlands in the north-west of Scotland and some of the islands such as Mull, Iona and Skye.
On this occasion, I was heading to Oban in Dan (the van) when I saw this scene. It was the wet road that caught my eye but it was very small in the viewfinder. The longest lens I had was a 180mm, roughly equivalent to 120mm in the 35mm format.
However, the good thing about the 6x6 format is the size of the negative. So, although the part of the scene I was interested in was quite small on the Mamiya's focusing screen, it still managed to fill a 35mm frame-sized area on the negative.
The photograph above needed a bit of work, though, to convey the road as it appeared to me on that dark, overcast day. The foreground was burned in to suppress detail (mainly some conifer trees poking up) and give a solid base to the image. The sky was also given a little extra exposure to accentuate the moody weather and the edges burned in to heap concentration onto the road.
|A quick and very dirty scan of a 30-year-old slide of Dan the morning|
after an overnight stop on Mull.
Most important was to lighten the road which was done by dodging it a little and then bleaching it back with ferricyanide applied using a cotton bud. The bleaching made a real difference, turning the road into the brightest highlight and, as we always read in arty books, the eye is drawn to the lightest part of an image.
I think what makes this photograph work for me is the way the road emerges from the trees at the bottom and then disappears over the crest of a small hill, giving the impression that it's some random sliver of silver that's been plopped down in the landscape.
Although I might have zoomed in on the road if I'd had a long enough lens, in retrospect I think the picture benefits from the small scale of the ribbon of tarmac. Without the context of the surrounding hills and the oppressive and swirling clouds, it would have lost some of its impact.
It's always tempting to see a feature in the landscape and close in on it (because "filling the frame" is a good thing, isn't it?) but it's often better to give the surrounding environment some consideration as well.
The late and great Fay Godwin was a master of that, often naming photographs after a particular feature that was small that you almost had to hunt for it in her image. However, once you'd located it, the feature usually acquired more prominence than it might otherwise have enjoyed had it been given centre stage in the composition.