Large Format Photography Success

It has been great to see a resurgence in Large Format film photography over recent years.  There are probably many factors behind it but whatever they are more people seem to be enjoying the wonderful experience this medium offers.  It is such a rewarding process to make just one picture - starting from loading a sheet of film into a dark slide holder, typically in a small light sealed changing tent, through to evaluating the light and making the exposure before bringing it all to life through development.  

It was therefore exciting to read that the team at Jobo Artisan, along with select industry partners, had launched a large format photography contest which I chose to enter in support.  Their aim was to endorse the craftsmanship of analog photography with a large format view camera. 


Spiral Forest - Peak District National Park, England.

Spiral Forest - Peak District National Park, England.

A couple of months later I received an email informing me I was one of 6 finalists - there is in fact no ranking (1, 2, 3 etc) just 6 winners if you like.  I'll be heading off to Photokina (Cologne, Germany) at the end of September for the official award.  Given the judges for this competition form a hugely experienced and talented group it is gratifying to be recognised by them.  

The Story Behind the Image.

This part of the Peak District can be very rewarding for photographers, if the conditions are right.  I've been to this area (Padley Gorge / Bolehill Quarry) countless times over the years and had spotted this group of trees during a walk in the winter of 2016.  It's a little way off any path and a long way from the more commonly photographed areas.  What grabbed my attention was the central tree which seemed to be shaped like a spiralling chalice (it pays to have an odd imagination as a photographer) and would be the obvious starting point of a future composition.

As is often the case with woodland photography mist and fog add a much needed sense of intrigue as well as helping to simplifying a scene.  Having the forest recede into the fog was a crucial ingredient for me to make this picture.  With that in mind, and after several attempts when the conditions weren't quite right, everything came together on a cold, damp, foggy morning in April 2018. 

The image was made on Fuji Velvia 50 (rated at 50), taken on an Arca Swiss 5x4 with a Sinar S 210mm f/5.6 at f/32 for 1.3s.  As is the case with Velvia the exposure had to be correct (there's really only 4 to maximum 5 stops in EV)  Fortunately, misty, foggy conditions yield low contrast scenes making it ideal for velvia and the metering relatively straightforward, indeed I only made one exposure.  Camera movements were also limited to some front rise.  I spent around 2 hours trying different lenses/compositions before I settled on the one above.  The key was to allow some clear space through to the central, chalice like tree, while retaining a sense of place.......... the fog/nature did the rest.

As I only have the facility to process my own black and white work the transparency was sent off to William at The Latent Image for processing.  I subsequently wet scanned it on my Epson V850 at home.   

Even with today's digital technology and post processing wizardry nothing compares to the entire process of making a large format landscape image on a sheet of velvia 50.  I'd encourage anybody who hasn't tried it to give it a go, you'll see things so differently..........and I don't just mean upside down and reversed on the ground glass!

Garry Ridsdale

1st August 2018.

PS Have you spotted the 'ghost' of a cat? (middle / left if you haven't!)

Travel Finalist - Smithsonian 14th Annual Photo Contest

Following success with being a category winner with the Smithsonian, Air & Space 2016 photography contest I entered an image from the Isle of Skye into the Travel category of the 14th Annual Smithsonian photo contest.  

Being a global competition, and not one restricted to just the UK, the depth and breadth of work is remarkable.  Apparently more than 48,000 submissions were made from photographers in 146 countries and territories.

The finalists received recognition around the world and were featured in many newspapers and magazines such as The Guardian here in the UK.

My image (below) was selected as one of 10 finalists in the Travel category. Click on the image to view it on the Smithsonian page.

Old Man of Storr

Old Man of Storr

The Story Behind the Photograph

I had completed some photographic tuition on the Isle of Skye a few days before the image was taken and decided to stay on to make some images of my own.  It's such a fabulous place for anyone visiting and a photographers dream.

The weather was awful for the tourist but ideal for photography.  Weather fronts rolled in off the Atlantic throughout the morning and when I climbed up beyond the Old Man just after 8am, it and the Trotternish ridge were shrouded in cloud.  

Forever the optimist I set my equipment up and waited. Although the sun was bursting though the clouds periodically it was always away from the Old Man.  At 1215 my luck changed.  The cloud had lifted from the ridge and for no more than a few seconds the sun raced across the landscape and lit up the pinnacles.   Although I had the image framed up and was ready with my cable release, of the 3 exposures I made only 1 saw the pinnacles in light.  Any later in the day and the sun would have lit the other side of the pinnacles (to the right as you look at the image) which wouldn't have been seen. 

1/40 sec @ f/11 ISO 100 | Lee 2 stop medium Grad | Manual Focus.

Canon 5DsR | Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L II USM @38mm | Gitzo 5541LS tripod | Arca Swiss D4 geared head