Behind the Photograph | Maroon Bells
2:30 am seemed to come moments after I went to fall asleep in my tent that night. I had just finished loading film in cool subdued light and the little air mattress felt better than the ground. The alarm annoying. You know how they are. We packed up everything in the dark and began our drive out to the Maroon Bells. It was still dark when we got out there. I think bears were in the back of both of our minds as we bundled up for the short walk to the lake. It was definitely more in Celeste's as she sang the bear song. It wasn't far. I took a few long exposures as the morning light began to come up. Then those geese. Yep, from all the many years of crowds and crowds of people flocking to these peaks, they really learned to love their free food. They floated over to where I was looking for food (right through my photograph) and destroyed the still water. Still, I took the photo. I swapped to my Fujinon 90mm (a 28mm equivilent in full 35mm) and recomposed. At that moment the light began to hit the bells and the geese swam right through the middle of the shot. AGAIN. I waited. 5 minutes later the light was gone. I had missed the shot I wanted. I swapped back to my Rodenstock Sironar 210mm (65mm equivilent) and tightened my shot and the light hit the bells once again and I exposed the film. I got a second chance! But the geese were back like they knew I was getting ready to take a photograph. The pressure in those few moments was heavy. Everything happened so fast. The light was again gone. I re-metered and took a photograph in soft reflected light of the morning and I got this shot.
Here is how I metered in the field. Based of course on Ansel Adam's zone system.
I actually ended up developing fairly normally with this photograph. I didn't need pull highlights in development. You can probably see that I did a few adjustments in scanning for a bit of a lower key, but overall, the image came out nicely. I am really excited to print this photograph. It will look really really nice in a big print.
Nikki II 4x5 Field camera with the Rodenstock Sironar 210mm f/5.6 (at f/22) with a slight front rise.
Shot on Expired Tri-X Pan 320 and developed in HC-110 Dilution B for 5.5 minutes in a Jobo CPP2.
The moment you want in a photograph come and go so quickly and sometimes you miss them and get a photograph you like better, especially with the pace of large format photography. It's tough. That happened in this case, but I am really happy with this photograph.
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