Like most amateur photographers I have a limited amount of time available to photograph with. Planning enables me to best utilize that time. In preparation for a photo trip I often will have every aspect of the outing planned. The weather, time and season influence my subject matter and destination. Another important element of my photography is to familiarize myself with a location. Often I will hike and explore an area before I am prepared to try and make images.
But it is important after all the planning is done to remember to keep my eyes open in case of other opportunities. Often I would see something promising but not deviate from my preplanned image. I would then wonder if the found opportunity would of produced better images then the mediocre images resulting from my planned location. I now try to follow my heart and photograph what moves me, which is often very different then my initial vision.
Ultimately some of my best images have been discovered in this manner. Often these photographs are the result of a unique moment in nature. A magnificent subject is not as valuable to a final photograph as outstanding light.
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I was first introduced to large format photography as an archaic process best suited for studio or architectural work. While in photography school I dreaded the assignments that required the use of these big cameras. My images often suffered from focus issues and/or exposure problems. Large format photography has a learning curve steeper then that of a smaller format system. For a few school assignments I even went to great lengths to acquire a tilt shift lens to avoid having to use a large format camera.
I decided to try out a large format camera in the landscape after reading an article by one of my favorite photographers, Dan Baumbach about his experience adopting large format photography. (Switching to Large Format) I often marveled over images created with large format cameras on a favorite photography resource of mine, Nature Photographers Network. It seemed large format was the system of choice of the photographers I admired.
I planned a daytrip to Adams Creek in the Delaware River Water Gap. The Delaware River Water Gap is a watershed located in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I have scouted and photographed numerous locations in the Water Gap and it is a wonderful place to enjoy nature. As my trip approached, I checked a Toyo 45CX equipped with a 210mm lenses out from the school store. The Toyo 45CX weighs in at 7.9 lbs, by far the heaviest and bulkiest camera I have and hope to ever photograph with.
Rain was in the forecast for the morning of my daytrip but I was not deterred as the saturated tones of the wet landscape can create wonderful images. I was on the road at 4:30AM to reach my destination for first light. The Pocono Mountains were coated in a light fog on this particular morning. Fog has a wonderful way of softly obscuring the background in landscape photographs and it is one of my favorite conditions in which to photograph. I arrived on time and pulled my little two-wheel drive car into the sucking mud of the trail parking lot. Within minutes of shouldering my equipment and making my way down the trail I was soaked.
I walked a few hundred yards enjoying the foggy wet forest surrounding me. The heavy camera and tripod combination was quite noticeable as I hiked. A series of trees covered in green lichens caught my eye and I went about positioning the camera and tripod.
As I composed and focused the camera the rain began to pour down. I continued to work and did my best to keep the camera dry. As I peered at the ground glass I let out a breath covering the ground glass in a fog. This was the first but far from the last time I have been forced to contemplate the composition due to my ground glass being completely obscured by my breathe on a cold morning. After the glass cleared up I continued this time careful to exhale down below the camera. I continued to photograph my way through the ten sheets of film I had purchased lugging the camera from composition to composition.
I was completely drenched but happy as I made my way back to civilization. The beauty of the landscape never ceases to amaze me. It is always waiting if one takes the time to observe it. Photography for me is time to rejuvenate while emerged in the landscape. After a photographic opportunity I feel relaxed and as if all my priorities are in order.
None of the photographs produced during this trip resulted in a print or were seen by anyone but myself. Fortunately it was not the results but the experience of immersing myself in the composition that compelled me to trade in my digital camera for a large format (field!) camera.
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This meadow is a favorite location of mine that I have visited numerous times. It is in Hickory Run State Park. Hickory Run is located in the Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. I originally intended on photographing a different composition but after reviewing my slides I found this image better represented the beauty of this particular October morning. After the sun had fully illuminated the meadow I returned to a local B&B for a lovely breakfast with my girlfriend. My idea of a perfect start to the day! The remainder of the day was spent riding my Papillionaire Sommer. Read my full review at Papillionaire Review.
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