Having a little fun with the panoramic function on my iPhone in class today. Took this picture of two of my Large Format students doing studio portraits with a 4×5. I dug into the vaults and found some of my remaining stash of Polaroid Type 55 and let the students burn a couple sheets. I was more than pleasantly surprised with how well it worked- my Type 55 has to be a decade out of date by now, but the pods still processed nicely. I’d post some results but my students ran off with the negatives before I could copy any of them.
This was also my first test of my PocketWizard wireless flash sync setup on large format, and it worked very well. I got a little clamp from B&H photo that locks onto the front standard of my camera, and attached a hot shoe to PC adapter to the clamp. The PC cord connected the shoe to the sync on the shutter, and the PocketWizard sat in the shoe.
The other PW unit was connected to my Calumet Travelite monolight. This setup let me use my Sekonic L358 meter which has a PocketWizard trigger module, so I could meter wirelessly. That’s a big boon even when doing still life, and an even bigger one when shooting portraits, because that’s one less wire for you OR your sitter to trip over. If you look carefully at the front standard of the camera, you can see the PocketWizard module sticking out of the side in the photo.
I was doing some clean-up in my library after doing the book inventory and came across something I’ve been looking for for a very long time: a box of 4×5 Fujichrome Velvia 100F transparencies (slide film). No scan on the internet will do the actual chromes justice – they need to be viewed on a lightbox with a loupe or even better, projected. Not that I have a projector that could handle a 4×5 chrome. But here are two favorites that I think come pretty close to conveying the majesty of a big slide:
These are both views of the eastern end of the Tioga Pass, on the way in to Yosemite National Park from Lee Vining. If memory serves, these are even before you get to the ranger station at the park entrance. I took a vacation back in I think 2004 to the east side of the California Sierra. I drove from San Francisco up through gold rush country – Sutter Creek, Volcano, and Sonora to take 108 around the north side of Yosemite through the Sonora Pass to get to Lee Vining, where I eventually stayed for a couple nights to explore the landscape. Photographers, like fishermen, have tales of “the one that got away” – this is mine, “the shot I couldn’t take”. Coming up through the Sonora Pass, I reached the peak of the pass, 9980 feet of elevation, just at sunset. The road that climbs up through the pass becomes a series of hairpin switchbacks as it approaches the apex. Ascending the penultimate stretch, I glanced out the window to see the setting sun painting the mountain faces to the west brilliant oranges and reds, like they were on fire. There was no place to stop, even if I didn’t get out of the car, let alone set up a tripod and squeeze off a frame or two with a 4×5 field camera. So the image has to live in my memory, and hopefully in retelling it, I’ll encourage some of you to get out there and drive that route yourselves, and time your trip so that you climb the pass at sunset and can see it for yourselves.
I’ll close with a panorama shot cropped from a 4×5 ‘chrome I shot of the Tioga Inn where I stayed. The two white buildings of the inn are actually salvaged structures in whole or in part from Bodie, the famous ghost town up the road a little ways. The more modern cabins on the left are some of the rooms – there are more cabins on the right, up in the trees, some of which are also made of Bodie salvage materials.
I’ll have more to tell of the road trip in future posts.
I have had eight images published at Eastern Sierra Center for Photography’s website in their “Paradigmatic Nudes” gallery online. Most of these images you’ve seen here before on my blog. The images featured are my whole-plate sized gum bichromate prints of Philip, a model I’ve worked with and my Type 55 Polaroid 4×5 format shots of my friend Jose. I’d like to give a big shout-out to Laura Campbell, their curator and director, for repeatedly selecting my work and having faith in my creative vision. Please go check out their website and see the entire gallery.