The Story Behind the Images: Bierstadt Lake (2002)

One of the advantages of using a large format camera is the ability to change film types for each photograph.  In the fall of 2002, I went to a new location in Rocky Mountain National Park to try and get a different perspective of the often photographed Hallet’s Peak.  The hike to the lake is is a series of switchbacks that wind their way up a large moraine.  When I got to the lake I was surprised to find no water but some amazing mud cracks.  A light snow had fallen that night and I knew that the snow and mud cracks would look great in black and white.  In the early 2000’s, film manufactures still made quick load film and I almost always carried Kodak Tmax 100 and Fuij Velvia quickloads.  I shot this scene in both color and black and white, the color images are not nearly as interesting as the black & white.  While composing the image, I wanted to emphasize the foreground so I added a little back tilt which enlarges the foreground slightly.  

Settings: Toyo 45AII and Rodenstock 90mm f6.8 lens - Red Filter - Kodak Tmax 100 film; 1/3 sec @ f/32.  Scanned by West Coast Imaging - Tango Drum Scan.  


Bierstadt Lake (2002)

The Story Behind The Images: East Temple Peak (2002)

In 2002, I purchased a 4x5 field camera. I wanted the ability to print larger prints and more importantly wanted to have more control in the process of creating images. A field camera is actually a very simple piece of equipment - a front standard that holds a lens, bellows and a rear standard that holds the film. No batteries, no light meter, no cpu.  Working with a field camera really slows the entire image making process down which forces the photographer to be much more contemplative when setting up the camera and composing the image.  I spent the winter of 2002 working with the camera in my familiar photography places:  Pawnee Buttes, Rocky Mountain National Park and a spring trip to Arches National Park.  During these initial trips I worked on focusing and exposure calculations and developed a process for using the field camera.  It is import to establish muscle memory for focusing the camera as you are working under a dark cloth and can’t see the controls on the camera.  More importantly when the light is good and you need to set up and take a picture quickly you need to have a system in place. 

In the summer of 2002, my sister and I organized another backpacking trip into the Wind River Range, Wyoming from the Big Sandy Trailhead.  Our only window of time was during the 4th of July weekend so instead of hiking into the Cirque of the Towers, we choose to take the lesser traveled fork to Temple Lakes.  I had spent some time in the area a few years earlier when I couldn’t get over the pass to the Cirque early in the season.  On our second to last night we camped at East Temple Lake and waited for sunset.  Clouds had been building throughout the day and the potential for a great sunset was good as long as the weather didn’t turn and then it was going to be a very wet.   Here are my notes:

“On July 6th one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever witnessed occurred.  The night before I was photographing from Temple Lake and was watching the light carefully.  I knew that East Temple Peak would shine bright in the correct conditions.  I wasn’t patient enough this night and missed the final light on E. Temple and Steeple Peaks.  On 7/6 a few storms converged on our valley, but passed in time for sunset.  I watched as the red clouds emerged in the west and the final glow of the night embraced East Temple and Steeple Peaks.  I have never seen such an amazing glow.  I hope I was able to capture the light - very intense.  This could be a good one.”

Settings:  Toyo 45AII and Rodenstock 90mm f6.8 lens - 2-stop Graduated Neutral Density Filter - Fuji Velvia 50 (set at 40) @f/32 for 1 min.  Last two shots of the night.  We hiked out of the Winds the next morning. 

When developing sheet film, I typically send a single batch for each image and hold duplicate or bracketed sheets of film until seeing the results.  When I received back this image everything looked good except my focusing cloth was in the frame.  It could have been cropped out but I would have lost some of the left side of the image.  Luckily I had moved it out of the way on the second exposure.  

This image was scanned by West Coast Imaging using a Heidelberg Tango Drum Scanner. If you enjoyed this post please share and visit me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Flickr (links on the left). Thanks again. Jason C. Ruf

The Story Behind the Images: Pinyon Pine (2000)

This is a continuation of my series - The Story Behind the Images - the stories about my favorite photographs as I remember them. I hope you enjoy and please share.  

In 1999, I spent New Years at Arches National Park.  It was my first trip to Moab and I was focussed on getting a shot of Delicate Arch in the last light of the millennium. Although the sunset at Delicate Arch was nice, the images I created there were not the best of the trip.  

On New Years Day, I woke before sunrise to a dense fog and some light snow. I decided to check out Landscape Arch and drove to Devils Garden Trailhead which was a short trip from my campsite. I tried a few compositions at Landscape Arch and then made my way to Navajo Arch and Devils Garden. I found this lone pinyon pine growing out of the slick rock sandstone a few hundred yards from Navajo Arch. I only took two shots, remember these were the days of film so there was no instant feedback. After returning home and getting the slides back from the local lab, this quickly became my favorite image of the trip.  I shot it with a Nikon 80-200mm telephoto zoom lens which was able to isolate the pine within the sandstone surrounds.  

Photo Details - Nikon N90s and a Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 lens on Fuji Velvia 50 transparency film. It was scanned by West Coast Imaging using a Heidelberg Tango Drum Scanner. If you enjoyed this post please share and visit me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Flickr (links on the left). 

Thanks again. Jason C. Ruf


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