A couple good friends of mine who know Zion quite well introduced me to this fantastic little tree last Fall. The tree is about 9 feet tall and high up on a ridge not far from the parks main thoroughfare, in fact once can see it from the road. We spent an day in this area looking for interesting subjects to photograph, this tree was one of the most beautiful by far.
In this example of the tree and streaking clouds, it was about 3:30 in the afternoon. High contrast light, deep blue skies, and fast moving clouds. I thought by using a Red #25 filter, ND’s and a polarizer I could turn that blue sky black and create some interesting effects with the cloud movement. The wonderful thing about shooting Black and White film, is one can shoot it all day long in many different lighting conditions and still get fantastic images.
I have been working exclusively with Velvia 50 for the last 12 years. That had been a fantastic experience, but I had dug myself into a creative rut without knowing it. In my opinion, Velvia sings in soft, low contrast light, and that had been the only light I worked with for over a decade. Furthermore, most of the places I shoot these days are at high altitude. In these environments, high contrast light is the norm. The golden hour at these heights is generally the golden 10 minutes at best, so that reduced my shooting time to less than 30 min a day when using Velvia 50.
In an attempt to open a more synergistic dialogue with the landscape, I started carrying 2 additional films in my bag. Fuji Pro 400H and Ilford FP4. If the landscape was dark, monochromatic, or moody, I would meet the scene halfway with Ilford B&W film. Soft light and rich pastel colors? Velvia 50. If the light was bright and breathy, out came the Pro-400.
An amazing thing has happened since I adopted this 3 film approach; I have absolutely no expectations when I go out and shoot. I simply show up with an open mind, see what the landscape is showing me, and try and meet her halfway. This has been incredibly liberating, I can now shoot in almost any kind of light and shoot almost all day long if I wish.