What a beautiful place to spend the morning with my son. It was mid April and in the mountains of Utah there were still dotted with snow. We camped off Sheep Creek Road the previous night and I went out early with my son to Solder Summit.
I made this on my large format system in the Utah mountains. I had seen all this beautiful color the day before and was amazed by how vibrant it was. We’re used to seeing such colors in the Fall. But Spring was just coming in and still the color sang in the Utah hills. I love this State.
I love Aspens too. No matter when you look at them they’re stunning. My 4 year old and I discovered this remote spot filled with color and lots of bare Aspen groves, just as the sun was streaking across the hills. The sky was blue and the snows were melting. Afterward we stopped an a little gas station on the summit and bought snacks before heading back to the trailer and the rest of the family for a peaceful afternoon drive into Salt Lake.
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For Photographers. How it was made…
Technical Notes: Linhof Technica IV, 215mm Caltar S, @ f16, 1/15, Ektar 100, Induro Tripod
Processing: Std C41 Development with Tetenal, Epson V700 Wet Scan, Lightroom 4, Photoshop, Seim Effects tools.
I knew right off this place was special. But there were challenges. One being that on 4x5 we need long focal lengths and thus smaller aperture for depth of field. This meant a slow shutter speed at ISO 10o. At 215mm I would like liked to get up to 1/30 or even 1/60. But 1/15 is i came out as to place the zones where I wanted them. And the exposure level did come out near perfect.
In retrospect perhaps I should have pushed or used a faster film on a second frame. I was tripod mounted of course, but as I recall there was a breeze and it does not take much to hamper a capture at 1/15. While the image worked, it could have had more detail at close level which would have allowed me to print well into the 80 inch range. As it stands I’ll probably keep it under 50 on canvas. It looks stunning printed, but there’s always something to be learned from a good image and from reviewing my own rules, in this case the Six Keys of Image Quality.
One thing of note here was that I waited. In the mountains the sun often peeks over hills some time after “official” sunrise time. This meant I had more time to work with as the sun moves slower the more it rises. I was able to setup and then wait for this great cloud you see on frame right to move in and lesser clouds to move out. This kept me from having a sky that was too plain, or too distracting from the subject, the Aspens.
Processing was fairly simply. I did the best scan I could for maximum sharpness using fluid mounting. I then applied a few Seim Effects presets and some manual tweaks in LR and in Photoshop for further corrections. I made the colors feel natural and the finished with some gentle burning and dodging, before retouching our a jet contrail. I did not have to edit much, though I took my time. One thing I love about film is how great it looks our of camera if you have good light.
Whether on digital or film, there’s something to be learned from every image. On this I was reminded again to always watch for things that could hamper fine detail. While I was given a good image, I could have ended up with nothing. I imagine I’ll always chide myself for not getting this perfect enough for that 80 inch print. But I’ll learn from that and “Winters End” will still look great on the wall.