We had a lot of good guesses on our tenth “How Was This Picture Made” article, including a couple that were almost entirely spot-on. Congratulations to Photography Life reader Goh Wei Jun for his guess — he will receive a copy of our upcoming eBook, Creative Landscape Photography, as a prize. So, how was this photograph made? This article dives into the entire process.
Recently I returned to one of my enduring passions: shooting film. I’m Italian and I recently moved to California. In Italy, it’s really hard to find a good lab to develop film and it’s even more difficult to find rolls of film of the brands I like. Here in the US, I felt reborn with new joy: everything is so much easier when it comes to shooting film. All over the world shooting film is getting more popular, it’s in fashion again, and it’s even possible to find photographers returning to analog, ditching digital for paid jobs. In Italy, the business of photography completely revolves around shooting digital: almost no one thinks about film anymore. So for me, it was amazing to take my four 120 rolls to the lab to discover they could be processed only after the order for the previous customer was finished… the lab told me a well-known company with a blue logo based in the Bay area had just delivered a big batch of 70 rolls for processing! I was kind of sad when I discovered my batch was delayed by 48 hours (beyond the usual 24 hours needed for developing, printing the contact sheet and scanning everything in high resolution), but I finally received my processed rolls and you can see some results in the images of this article.
This is the tenth post in our “How Was This Picture Taken” series, and this one features a photograph I took at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Since this is the tenth installment in our series, and because we have a number of exciting projects coming up, we’d like to do something a bit special this time:
The reader with the closest answer will receive a free copy of the eBook that Nasim and I are writing: “Creative Landscape Photography: Light, Vision, and Composition.”
Three years ago, when I made my first photo tour through the magnificent landscapes of Iceland, I fondly recall an interesting dinner discussion with my fellow photographers. We had just returned to our guest house from a memorable photo shoot. As we shared good wine, food, and laughs, the discussion pleasantly turned to photography. After the seemingly prosaic and obligatory discussion of camera gear, we got around to more interesting topics such as light, travel destinations, and our individual exploits. One pleasant, wise, and well-traveled gentleman from Holland made an interesting comment that has resonated with me ever since. With a blend of delight and amusement, he said, and I paraphrase him:
Last week, I had posted a landscape photograph for installment #8 of our How Was This Picture Taken? series. Judging from the comments, many of our readers took this exercise very seriously and posted deliberate and insightful remarks on how this photograph was visualized and constructed. I enjoyed both the aesthetic and technical analyses offered by our readers, some of whom were correct on many aspects of why and how I chose to make this photograph. Well done!
Even though my first camera was the digital Nikon D5100, I always have felt a sort of secondhand nostalgia for the days of film photography. The vast majority of history’s great photographs were taken on film; masters like Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell defined the medium of landscape photography in my mind, and both were entirely film photographers. Personally, by using a digital camera so early, I felt that I was missing a more hands-on appreciation for photography’s complex history. Perhaps this thought was not first on my mind while in the field, but it certainly surfaced from time to time.
At this time when many of us are excited by the new camera announcements, I thought it will be intriguing to do a write up describing my first time shooting 35 mm black and white film. Last summer, I found some time to swing by the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in White Mountains near Bishop, California. I knew that the timing of my trip will not coincide with the best lighting for photography, especially in color. So, I decided to photograph these ancient trees in B/W. Why B/W film? Well, I have always wanted to enjoy the aesthetics of it as well as I thought it will force me to think in terms of highlights, shadows and texture. All in all, a good learning experience.
If you ever have the chance to visit Paris, one of the absolute highlights is, of course, the Eiffel Tower. Riding the elevator to the top is an experience in and of itself — as you fly through the Tower’s metallic skeleton, you start to see flashes of the city shrinking below you. When you come to a stop (after stepping past the fifteen-foot tall gears that turn the elevator’s cable), the view you see is maddeningly beautiful.
About a week ago, my inbox started filling up with new forum topic notifications. A day later, Nasim contacted me stating the exact same thing with a hint of fear in his voice – that, our dear readers, was how we experienced your reaction to the introduction of a new mini-project here on Photography Life. That slight shock me and my friend felt after seeing how enthusiastically the idea was received is of the good sort. All the work that’s been submitted is a compliment to us, and also an emphasis on just how much of a commitment Weekly Critique really is. What have we gotten ourselves into!
It was no easy task, choosing the images for this week’s article. As I said, though, these decisions were very subjective and in no way showcase what we believe to be “good” or “bad” work. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at photographs submitted by Rick Keller, Levi Obarr and Betty.
A while ago, I wrote an article on low-contrast B&W conversions with Lightroom. After reading through some of the response the article received I was pleasantly surprised that so many of our readers actually prefer low-contrast look over the ever-popular high-contrast conversions. That is not to say high-contrast B&W photography is in some way inferior, not at all. It is merely the more popular, the more easily accepted sort of look, which is exactly the reason why I saw fit to go against the wave and start with the opposite. Now, ever since I wrote that piece, I’ve received several requests for a similar article on a high-contrast conversion. This topic is particularly tricky for me since I rarely do high-contrast B&W, but the requests did remind me of one occasion where I was deliberately working towards such a result from the very start. And so, as always, we begin with a photograph.