By Carl Weese
There are places, locations, that strike me as simply magical. One that I’ve returned to many times is a five or six mile stretch of dirt road along a ridge line, a point, in central West Virginia. Most of the hollows on either side are farmed, and no matter what the weather conditions might be like nearby, somehow the light when I get there is always fantastic.
Another magical place is a farm in far western Virginia that happens to belong to an old friend. I made “August Morning Fog” at the farm in 2001. I’d driven at dawn from the farmhouse in the valley up to the highest hayfield. There was ground fog (I think there always is on summer mornings there) and the views back into the valley were spectacular. In short order I made several pictures with my 7x17 and one with my 12x20-inch camera. When I turned around to take the 12x20 back to my truck, I saw, more or less, this picture. The 7x17 came out again and I made several variations of this as the light brightened and the the array of spider webs in the tree branches glowed.
I made the second picture in the spring of 2000 in the town of Easley, South Carolina. One of the facades has a large sign with the name “Dixie Milling.” It was morning again, but this time in clear sunlight an hour or so after dawn.
For those interested in technical details, both pictures were made with a Korona Panoramic View Camera (it says "Panoramic" right on the nameplate on the front standard). The lens used for both is a 305mm Schneider G-Claron. As far as camera adjustments go, the tree picture was pretty much, “ƒ/45 and be there.” I metered the darker trees and gave an exposure of several seconds to retain detail in the shadows. For the mill, I took advantage of the fact that the G-Claron design provides a large circle of coverage that grows dramatically as the lens is stopped down. At ƒ/64 I was able to use almost all of the camera’s front rise capability in order to take in the top of the mill with the camera perfectly plumb to avoid convergence in the lines of the building.
Both of these prints are made from digital negatives slightly larger than the image area of the in-camera negative. I’ll have more about the printing process in another post.
Carl Weese, a former Contributing Editor of Photo Techniques magazine and occasional contributor to TOP, is the co-author of The New Platinum Print (1998). He has been teaching the art of platinum printing for nearly twenty years. He uses large and ultra-large format cameras extensively and has been an enthusiastic advocate of the use of digital internegatives for platinum printing. He has put many hundreds of thousands of miles on a succession of trucks photographing vernacular scenes all over North America. His work is in many private collections.
©2016 by Carl Weese, all rights reserved
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Doug Howk: "Carl, I believe you've said elsewhere that you do not adjust contrast when Pt/Pd printing. Since these are from digital negatives, do you still try to retain the contrast from the original scene?"
Carl replies: Doug, yes, I make the prints using a mix with about 20% Pt and no contrast agent. Getting that long a scale in the digital negative was the primary challenge.
John Sarsgard: "Carl's photographs celebrate the world around us in perfectly composed images of the extraordinary ordinary. They reach full realization in his beautifully made platinum/palladium prints with the characteristic Pt/Pd delicacy in the midtones. I take issue with some of the earlier comments about his choice of subject matter. There is much that is interesting about our world on its own...without concepts that feed commentary by art critics. I also enjoy some of the conceptual photography that I see, but not more than Carl's work. I own several of his prints...you need to see them to fully appreciate."
Carl replies: John, your check is in the mail. :-)
CharlieH: "Curious whether Carl likes to see these framed so that the black irregular borders are not covered?"
Carl replies: I leave that up to you. If I were matting one for myself I would probably include a thin black line with either of these pictures. That could be my Leica roots showing, though.
toto: "Is 7x17 the size of the paper or of the image?"
Mike replies: I make the image area 6 3/4ths by 17 inches, give or take a sixteenth or so. The paper is several inches bigger.