352MC Second Trip to the Lake District (Saturday 31st January – Sunday 1st February 2015)
On Saturday 31st January 2015, I went up to the Lake District with my Dad for our second, weekend trip. Below you will be able to find information regarding the weather for the weekend (researched prior to departure), the original plan for the weekend (including a brief introduction to the plan, the equipment I took with me, the locations I wanted to visit, and a rough idea of the shots I wanted to take), whether the plan for the weekend changed (and the reasons why it changed), notes that I took about the project that was discussed with my Dad (which have been split into “general” and “technical” notes), a contact sheet of the photographs that I took over the weekend (from both the Canon 5D Mk II and the Mamiya 7), and, finally, a reflection on the images and the trip:
Plan for the Weekend:
Similar to the first trip up to the Lake District (please see the blog post entitled “352MC First Trip to the Lake District (Saturday18th – Sunday 19th October 2014)”) the main plan for this weekend was to visit a number of different places, that were on my locational list, in order to create aesthetically pleasing landscape photographs. As this was the first trip to the Lake District after deciding on which equipment I would be using for the continuation of my FMP (the Canon 5D Mk II and the Mamiya 7 – please see the “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Test-Shoot One (The Mamiya RB67, Mamiya 7 and Canon 5D Mk II, Blurring and Double-Exposures)” blog post), this trip also provided me with the opportunity to test out my decided methodology within the challenging locations that I wanted to photograph.
Technical Equipment (and Methodology):
- Canon 5D Mk II (with charger and 32GB Compact Flash Card)
- Tamron SP10-24mm (wide angle) lens
- Mamiya 7
- Mamiya 7 80mm lens
- Fuji Pro 400 H Colour Film (ISO 400)
- 77mm Ultra-Violet Filter (for the Tamron SP10-24mm lens)
- 58mm Ultra-Violet Filter (for the Mamiya 7 80mm lens)
- Kenneth Cole Reaction Instant 600 Polaroid Camera – to be used to capture the collaborative methodology behind the project (as suggested in my original proposal – please see the blog post entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Original Proposal”)
- PX680 Impossible Project 600 Colour Polaroid Film
- Sekonic L-308S Flashmate (light meter) (with spare batteries)
- Low-Pro Waterproof Camera Bag
As briefly mentioned above, in regards to the use of equipment, I spent the majority of the weekend shooting on the Canon 5D Mk II in order to gain appropriate settings and compositions, as well as digital “back-ups” of my images. However, once I captured an image that I thought was strong in its aesthetic character, I then switched to the Mamiya 7 in order to capture a finalized, “official” photograph.
Also, as stated in the “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Test-Shoot One (The Mamiya RB67, Mamiya 7 and Canon 5D Mk II, Blurring and Double-Exposures)” blog post under “Colour Film Experiment – Unfortunately…” I actually, riskily, used this weekend trip as the test shoot for the colour film (that I have never used before), due to the fact that I didn’t have time to test it prior to departure. I am therefore very interested to see the results and will spend time briefly reflecting on them (as well as the digital images) below.
Taking into account the weather that was forecast for the weekend (sunny and cloudy with snow on the ground), similar to the first trip up to the Lake District (please see the blog post entitled “352MC First Trip to the Lake District (Saturday18th – Sunday 19th October 2014)”), prior to our departure I had a discussion with my Dad regarding some of the locations I wanted to visit and whether the snowy conditions would make them hazardous to walk. Looking over my overall list of locations we therefore decided to choose places that we either wanted to visit in the snow (as they held a personal memorial significance in these conditions), or that would be easy to get to without putting us in any danger.
After this discussion with my Dad, I therefore planned out the locational structure for the weekend, which can be found below underneath the day that we visited them, along with any notes that I feel are relevant to include:
Please note, italics include places (from the list) that we managed to fit in which weren’t originally on the weekends plan, as well as any accompanying notes that I feel are relevant to know (in regards to the location).
Day One (Saturday 31st January 2015):
- Latrigg – As mentioned in the “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Initial Ideas” blog post, Latrigg was covered in snow at the time when we scattered my Grandpa’s ashes, so I therefore wanted to try and capture some images of Latrigg in the snow in order to symbolize this important past memory (this also provides the reason why I decided to visit Latrigg on both days, as I wanted to try and make the most of photographing Latrigg in these snowy conditions)
- (Derwent Water – similar to the first trip, although this wasn’t originally on my finalized list of locations, as we had time, we thought it would be a good place to visit as it allowed me to take photographs of Catbells overlooking the water, without putting us in danger due to the hazardous conditions)
- The Langdales – Although The Langdales are very impressive mountains within the Lake District, on this particular weekend (due to the weather conditions) we decided not to climb them, but to instead find accessible, impressive viewpoints that allowed me to capture a photos of them – please see below under “Planned Shots” for more details)
Day Two (Sunday 1st February 2015):
- Loughrigg Tarn
- The Langdales – Although I had already visited The Langdales on the previous day, during the shoot on the first day, I thought that I captured some really impressive shots of them at sunset; however, unfortunately I didn’t manage to capture these on the Mamiya 7, so I decided to return the next day to capture them using a similar composition as the night before; with this being said, I feel that I missed an incredible photographic opportunity (using the Mamiya 7) of the Langdales at sunset (please see “Canon 5D Mk II Contact Sheet” below to see the discussed shot)
- Loughrigg Tarn – Also, as you can see above, this was actually my second visit to Loughrigg Tarn in one day; this is because when I was there in the morning I captured (what I thought to be) an impressive shot on the Canon 5D Mk II that I didn’t capture on Mamiya 7; similar to The Langdales, I therefore decided to revisit the location to capture a similarly composed photograph from the original morning visit
- Skelwith Bridge (Chesters by the River)
- Latrigg – As stated above, I decided to visit Latrigg on both days, as I wanted to try and make the most of photographing Latrigg in these snowy conditions due to it’s memorial significance in these conditions
- As we wanted to make the best use of the available light, we decided to travel up early on the Saturday morning (and got up early on the Sunday) before spending the whole day (until the light went down) photographing different, personally significant locations
As briefly discussed above under the “Locations” section of the plan, as the previously snowy weather had created relatively hazardous conditions, we therefore made a conscious decision not to climb up any mountains (as we didn’t have the correct climbing gear and didn’t want to put ourselves in any danger). Instead, we therefore decided to either visit locations that were easy to get to in the snow (or that we wanted to visit because of it’s memorial significance in these conditions – as stated above), or I tried to capture aesthetically pleasing landscape photographs of the mountains from a lower, safe, and “easy-to-get-to” perspective and viewpoint.
Similar to the previous trip up to the Lake District then (see the blog post “352MC First Trip to the Lake District (Saturday18th – Sunday 19th October 2014)”), I wanted to spend the weekend capturing aesthetically pleasing landscape photographs (that would be classed as this through their subject matter and composition – including the type of mountainous landscape I photograph, the possible use of the rule of thirds, etc.).
However, differing from this original trip, I managed to conduct some research into professional landscape photographers (that use the Lake District as their subject matter – please see in my post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Location Research”), as well as experimenting with more creative photographic techniques, such as deliberate blurring and double exposures (please see the “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Test-Shoot One (The Mamiya RB67, Mamiya 7 and Canon 5D Mk II, Blurring and Double-Exposures)” blog post), prior to departure. Through conducting this research and experimenting with these techniques, I therefore decided that instead of creating more creative, dramatically beautiful, and almost painterly, images, I wanted to create more documentarian images that still held an aesthetic quality (this was due to a number of reasons including the fact that I wanted to deviate from the stereotypical methodologies as a way of reflecting the personal aspect of the project, as well as wanting to represent the landscapes in the present rather than using more creative techniques to symbolize the past – for more information please visit the sections (of the blog post) stated above).
Looking back at the plan for the weekend, as you have seen above, as the weekend progressed, I decided to take some detours back to some of the locations that I had already visited that weekend, as a way of capturing a couple of “official” photographs on the Mamiya 7 that I had missed during the previous visit. However, with this being said, I actually found that the weekend’s structure didn’t really differ from the original plan I had created, as I was still able to visit all of the locations I had decided on prior to departure.
Notes from the Weekend:
The Lake District:
- Grandpa loved sharing his favourite place on Earth (the Lake District) and my Dad suggested that this is what I am doing throughout this project
- The Lake District offered Grandpa contentment at the time of adversity
- Grandpa has a very tough childhood which actually ended up shaping him into the man he was
- But this tough childhood gave him the desire to find out how he fit into the world and he actually found this within the Lake District – it offered him comfort
- I also think that, depending on the outputs I create, “Contentment at the Time of Adversity” may be an interesting title to explore
Discussing the Project:
- When discussing the project, my father suggested that this project could be seen as cathartic – “providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions”
- As I was very young when Grandpa was still alive, Dad said that he had a feeling that I could never really express to Grandpa how I felt. He then suggested that I could use this project as a way of representing (through the use of images and text) what I initially wanted to say
- Dad also mentioned that he thought that the audience are visual learners and it is my duty as a photographer to provide them with the visual information
- We also spent time discussing the current outputs I was considering for my FMP and, from an audiences point of view, Dad suggested that a book could put off the audience in an exhibition setting – however, if I were to include the book within my final piece, Dad suggested that I would have to have something to draw the audience in to read the book (which I have already briefly considered, because in my original proposal – please see the blog post entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Original Proposal” – I suggested the use of a mounted print, as well as an archival box, to draw people in to the main book installation)
- Also, although I considered the use of a book due to its representational association with “the closed” and “the personal”, even though the story I am telling is relatively personal, I have consciously chosen to share it with the audience and so we discussed the fact that I should perhaps embrace the sharing of the story through the output I decide to use to present my piece
Development of Project:
- Whilst away on this weekend trip to the Lake District, I also found that I was thinking about the title for my Symposium paper (“A Pathway to the Past”) and ended up thinking that, instead of photographing the picturesque landscape, I could do what David Moore suggested (in the group tutorial on the 21st January 2015 – please see the blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 3 (Practitioner Talk and a Group Tutorial with David Moore, and a Self-Learning Workshop)”) and photograph the pathways within the Lake District that I travelled down with my Grandpa
- As suggested in this group tutorial with David Moore, this would actually enhance the reconnection aspect of the project as I am physically experiencing the pathways Grandpa and I explored together, retracing our steps
- I have also been very interested in “middle-of-the-road” photography as I love the sense of symmetry and perspective it creates whilst also symbolizing a route to the beyond
- (After I came up with this idea, I now plan on speaking to lecturer Caroline Molloy to see what she thinks about this possible development)
- During the weekend, I noticed that, as I was using a wide angle lens on the Canon 5D Mk II and an 80mm lens on the Mamiya 7, that the composition of the images was completely different
- I therefore thought about changing my wide-angle lens to a standard lens as I found that I much preferred the more precise, detailed composition that is given to me through the Mamiya 7’s 80mm lens
- However, if I stick with the wide-angle lens, is there a possibility for me to just crop the image to the desired composition in post-production? Or will this affect the quality of the image and therefore hinder the ability to print them relatively large?
- When I was uploading the digital photos from the Canon 5D Mk II, I thought that some of them looked over-exposed. However, I soon realized that this was because, although the camera suggested it was correctly exposed, at the time of the shoot, when I looked at the preview, I thought that it looked slightly underexposed so I decided to change the setting based on the preview
- This unfortunately means that the exposure may be wrong on the Mamiya 7 as I used the settings from the digital images that I thought looked perfectly-exposed within the preview
Photos – Contact Sheets (Canon 5D Mk II and Mamiya 7 (x3)):
Digital Contact Sheet:
Film Contact Sheets:
Developing and Editing:
As this weekend provided me with two different types of images (digital images from the Canon 5D Mk II and colour negatives from the Mamiya 7), I obviously decided to edit them slightly differently.
Similar to the first trip (please see the blog post entitled “First Trip to the Lake District (Saturday18th – Sunday 19th October 2014)” under the section “Photos”, “Editing”) as the digital images I shot were all in the RAW format (as a way of capturing as much visual information as possible), I decided not to edit them (or remove any of the photographs) and simply created a contact sheet from the original files.
However, in regards to the images I shot on the Mamiya 7, as these were on colour film, I had to send them off to a specialist company for them to be developed (as we don’t have colour processing equipment within the university). Once I received my negatives back, I then decided to take them into university to scan them using the Hassleblad scanner, so that I could create a digital contact sheet of the photographs, which would allow me to compare them to the digital contact sheets I created for the Canon 5D Mk II images. After some slight confusion regarding the settings that I needed to put the scanner on to create the most effective and useful digital images, once they had all been successfully scanned, I decided to open them up into Photoshop to do some brief editing. Although I originally only wanted to straighten, crop, and invert the negative into a positive, once I had done all of this I soon realized that the tone, colour, and levels were completely off (please see example below). I therefore decided to allow Photoshop to automatically adjust the tone, colour, contrast and levels as a way of creating a relatively “correct” image that could be used as a comparison tool for the photographs I shot on the Canon 5D Mk II, as well as allowing me to gain an understanding of the overall image I created.
With this being said, as I used this weekend to test out the colour film, although I had to greatly edit the scans of the negatives for them to meet the “correct” colour that I was expecting, I have a feeling that this may be due to how I scanned them, rather than the negatives themselves. In other words, I feel that the use colour film was successful, and that I would be able to achieve a better colour quality if I sent them off to a professional company for scanning and printing (which I will obviously do if I choose to return to these images for my final exhibition peice).
(Also, as suggested above under the “Technical” section from the “Notes from the Weekend”, when looking over and editing the scans of the Mamiya 7 images, I did think that some of them were slightly over-exposed (which, as stated above, was due to the fact that although the camera suggested it was correctly exposed, at the time of the shoot, when I looked at the preview, I thought that it looked slightly underexposed so I decided to change the setting based on the preview) – I have therefore briefly reflected on what I am planning on doing to stop this from happening on future trips, below (under “Reflection – The Photographs and The Trip”.)
However, as you will have seen from these Mamiya 7 images, they are far from perfect (including the fact that the colour is still slightly off and the contrast is incredibly low) and so, if I decide that these images may be useful for my final exhibition piece in the future, I will take time looking through each of the images and selecting the stronger contenders, before appropriately editing them to a higher standard or sending them of for professional scanning and printing.
Reflection – The Photographs and The Trip:
As seen above, this weekend provided me with two types of photographs that I could work with: the “back-up” digital images from the Canon 5D Mk II, and the “official” photographs from the Mamiya 7. Before I received my film back after being developed, when looking through my digital images, I thought that I had captured some relatively strong images that I could use for my FMP, which resulted in me feeling incredibly excited to see the results from the Mamiya 7. Once I received my developed negatives, after scanning them into the computer and briefly editing them in Photoshop, I soon realized that I had a reason to feel confident in the images I had produced. Looking over the “official” Mamiya 7 photographs, I genuinely think that I have managed to capture some successful images. So much so, that if my FMP continues to develop and progress in this manner, I feel that there are a couple of “official” images from this weekend that I could use for my final exhibition piece.
With this being said, however, there are a couple of things that I will need to consider in future trips regarding the photographs. The first is that, as suggested above, the images were slightly over-exposed (due to the fact that I decided to change the settings according to the preview screen), so on future trips, I will need to be able to trust the settings given to me by the light meter and the Canon 5D Mk II (but I will, obviously, still test using the digital camera). The second is that, as also suggested above, the composition of the Canon 5D Mk II images and the Mamiya 7 images vary due to the use of different lenses; for the next trip, I am thereore planning on using a similar focal length lens on the Canon 5D Mk II that is used on the Mamiya 7 (80mm) as (as stated above under the “Technical” section from the “Notes from the Weekend”) I much preferred the closer composition from the Mamiya 7 images. Finally, I also know that my editing skills need to be developed and so, prior to deciding on the final images I want to include within my final exhibition piece, I will have to conduct technical research regarding the editing of landscape images, as well as experimenting with the techniques that I learn from this research.
Also, as briefly discussed above, as I used this weekend for the test shoot of the colour film, I feel that the use of the colour film, and therefore the images that were shot on it, turned out relatively successfully. Although the scans of the images do appear slightly off colour and lack in contrast, as stated above, I feel that this may be due to my personal scanning technique rather than the film itself, and if I want to include these images as a part of my final exhibition, I will conduct research into the correct editing techniques as well as looking into professional companies that could scan and print them for me. I am therefore still considering using this colour film for the rest of my photo shoots.
Now, looking back at the trip overall, I feel that it was incredibly successful (especially in comparison to the first trip!). This is because, not only did it offer me the opportunity to experiment with the technical equipment I am planning on using for the rest of my FMP, n the challenging locations I am planning on photographing, but I also feel that I have managed to capture some strong images that could possibly be used within my final exhibition piece (if my FMP continues to develop and progress in this manner). Also, deviating away from the images I created, I feel that the weather during this weekend managed to challenge me as a landscape photographer, not only in terms of experiencing photographing landscapes in snowy conditions (which can affect the light of the overall landscape), but it has also allowed me to understand and prepare more appropriate personal equipment for the following weekend (including items of clothing and protective aspects for the equipment).