If you have been to or attended a workshop at our Gallery there’s a good chance that you would have seen this picture hanging on the wall. I took it years ago, before digital was even a twinkle in anybodies eye. Remember film, curly stuff with sprocket holes, came in a metal can, how long ago that seems now.
This picture was taken in Italy where I was on location for YOU magazine, although this photograph was not part of the assignment it’s always been a favourite of mine. The view from the balcony of my hotel room was great, it looked across a series of narrow valleys, not very wide and of varying heights, from my room it looked almost like a series of steps. I set the alarm early to see how the light was at dawn, it’s always worth checking, if it’s no good you can always go back to bed.
The light on this particular morning was disappointing, very flat, I had been hoping for that lovely warm coloured light that so often occurs just after dawn. However, as if to make up for the lack of quality light, there running through the ‘valleys’ was a lovely mist. I shot off a roll of film, 35mm Fuji transparency film, bracketing the exposure so I would have a wide selection of exposures to choose from, I was thinking that either high or low key might be the answer. I packed away the camera and lens, put the film into my film container, had an early breakfast and didn’t think anymore about it.
Back in London I had the film processed and it was immediately obvious that it really didn’t work as a colour picture, although the mist looked great the flat light really took all the life out of the overall image. I scanned the slide using a Nikon Supercoolscan 9000ED, I think one of the best ever transparency/negative scanners, and loaded the digital image onto the Apple computer. Nothing too complicated here as far as I can remember, probably greyscale, possibly levels, contrast and brightness and there you go. It looked so much better in black and white, I made an A1 size print on the Epson 7880, cut a dark grey mount to go around it and finished it off with a plain black frame. It looks great.
Now you might have noticed that all the ‘valleys’ look very close together, this is due to the compression effect that you get when using a telephoto lens. In this case my camera, lens combination was a Canon T90 with a 300mm f5.6 Canon lens, I know some of you will associate me with Nikons but I did use Canon at one time. I have to say the T90 was a great camera, very progressive for its time.
What about the £35 heading I hear you ask?……….well that’s what I paid for that lens, secondhand and very battered from the now defunct Leeds Cameras in London. To be honest I never thought I would use it, I already had the 200mm f2.8 and the 400mm f4.5, it just looked lonely and unloved in the bottom of a corner shelf in the shop, I just couldn’t leave it there so I bought it.