Tintype landscapes in a changing light

June 04, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

May, Juny and July are for a landscape photographer months of early mornings or late evenings.  I'm working on Maly Dunaj project, traveling down the river, discovering new places. The last one is located by a field road heading to an abandoned golf field. River split there in two branches and woodcutters built a provisional road across one of them. Even at seven in the morning was the Sun pretty high. 

Country, like a human, has many faces. When you stick on a spot and stay for a moment you can see never ending change. Especially in places like this one, when the light of the rising Sun is skipping from one tree branch to another, creating a new composition every moment, again and again. Wet plate landscapes are slow, so you have to try to predict and you need a bit of luck. Even if you take aside technical things, it usually pays to make more than one plate of the scene. Wet plate landscape is time a resource consuming process. Even if you can make the plate in fifteen minutes, to make a final plate take much more. 

The picture on the left was made in full sunlight. I was not sure about placing central point in the middle. I thought that there is too much dark on the right side so I tried to balance it by shifting the camera to the left. Both pictures were made with two minutes exposure. There were high light clouds that day and in the second picture they covered the sun a bit more, then I wanted. So in this case the winner is the first picture. Maybe. It's difficult to judge your own fresh pictures and from my experience it is nearly impossible to judge them fairly in the field. (Take aside a bad exposure or other obvious technical problems). There is only one solution - take them home, wash them, varnish them and wait. 

But sometimes things are clear at the moment when they occur. Sky is on wet plate landscapes usually just empty nothingness and very often one of the biggest composition problem is how not to let that bright nothingness to dominate the picture. Cut the sky is an elegant solution, but if you are building a portrait of a county, maybe it should not be used all the time. The clouds were going worse and worse, there was just thirty seconds of sunlight in the left picture. Before I was able to do anything more the Sun was finally gone. I decided to make an another plate with the same exposure time, just slightly move the camera up. It resulted in much darker, but in some way a pretty delightful plate. Maybe in a strange way and maybe just for me. I decided to keep these plates together as a diptych.

P.S That day day I made another four plates. One of them is still waiting for its destiny. Other tree plates I scraped in the same evening. 

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