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Wednesday, September 12

Black Dog



A few months ago, in this post, I was bemoaning the fact that I could never get a big black dog to appear in photographs when I needed one. Well, patience wins again. I decided to pitch a tent on the grassy bank overlooking this scene and just bide my time until a suitable hound showed up. I left a trail of aniseed on the grass to encourage some canine interest. Eventually, after several days of frustration, I got what I wanted.

The preceding paragraph is a load of bollocks, obviously. I just happened by Drumgeith Park one drizzly day and thought I'd try another pic with some mist for atmosphere. Having taken far too many shots of this scene on the F90x that morning, I was about to head off when the dog and its owner showed up. My first reaction was to get the dog on its own, which meant cropping a tiny bit off the right hand edge of the frame when scanning as the owner had just sneaked into the picture.

Then I thought I'd be as well including the owner which was a good idea as that pic is probably the one I prefer. The dog looks as if it's about to disappear down a hole but that's just an illusion. Capturing the human figure at the right point can be tricky, though. I always try to catch people in full stride, as in this pic, but sometimes their legs aren't separated enough or their arms are by their sides making them look more like a pole that's about to topple over.

I've got another 16 versions of this subject, all without man and/or dog, that look pretty well identical on the negs beyond some slight variation in density as I fiddled with the exposure so that I could print the scene lighter or darker with the minimum of fuss. In truth, I could have got away with taking just one photograph as it's almost impossible to get the exposure wrong on a scene like this where there are hardly enough tones to capture as it is.


The exposure for both the pics here was the same but I darkened the foreground in the top shot to increase the 3D feeling and the atmospheric recession of tones. For the man and dog shot I left the foreground untouched as I had in mind a generally light and airy scene with just the two blobs of darkness in it. When it comes to making the print, I'll need to dodge the bottom left corner just a touch to make it the same tone as the rest of the foreground.

The film was an old roll of Delta 100 which I rated at 200 ISO and developed in Microphen stock. This was about the eighth roll I'd developed in the 1 litre stock solution and I cocked up the calculation - each film after the first one needs an additional 10% - so the highlights are a bit dense. One of the good things about Delta 100 is that it needs the same development time as HP5 in Microphen stock whether rated at the box speed or pushed a stop. If I settled on those two films for 35mm and 120 I could bung everything in the same tank and save a bit of time.

I might stop by Drumgeith Park again if I'm passing but I'm quite happy with the man and dog image and no longer feel the need to go out of my way. The shot above was pretty much what I had in mind when I first saw this scene and I'm pleased that a combination of perseverance and good luck have delivered a decent result.

5 comments :

Herman Sheephouse said...

The second one looks quite sinister in some way. Patience has repaid you though - the balance of tones is excellent as is the imagery!

Bruce Robbins said...

Sinister? Interesting. Is it possible for someone with an expanding dog lead to be sinister?

DavidM said...

Those expanding dog leads can be wrapped around your ankles as the dog scampers, apparently innocently, around you. A little tug and down you go!
If that's not enough, remember that in half the episodes of detective stories on TV, the body is discovered by a dog-walker. The paths of dog-walkers are littered with mysterious cadavers and one of them could be yours.
How long would it be before a fictional DCI came along to investigate your fictional tent?

Bruce Robbins said...

Have you tried Ritalin on that over-active imagination, David? It is true, though, that dog walkers do seem to stumble across an inordinate number of corpses - in real life as well as on the telly. How many times have you read in the papers, "The body was discovered by a local dog walker." I've written a couple of those stories myself!

DavidM said...

Ritalin, no. Ilfotec HC. Are the high-lights better with Ritalin?