Wenonah Trail Guide in hand (actually it was tucked into one of my pockets), I stopped on the way home on Friday afternoon last week for a scouting expedition. I knew there was a railroad trestle spanning the Mantua Creek so I headed there first. The water level drops as the Mantua Creek spills over a rocky waterfall a few feet west of the trestle. Perfect!
This is a hand held shot taken with my F3HP and 50mm lens. The bank under the trestle is wide and gravel covered. I crouched down as close to the water as I could get without falling in.
I stood up and moved east upstream from the falls for this shot looking west in the direction of the late afternoon (around 3:30 PM) sun. I’m pleased with the mood I was able to capture here. The tones, the textures, the play of light and shadow all embrace the essence of B&W photography. This image alone made the hike worthwhile. But there’s more…
Back again on Monday afternoon at about the same time. I hiked in from the West this time, tripod slung on one shoulder, F3HP on the other and the pockets of my field jacket bulging with two additional lenses, extra film, cable release and a few filters. I used the 50mm lens again but since the camera was loaded with high speed film, I screwed on a circular polarizing filter so I could use a slow shutter speed. I mounted the camera on my tripod and knelt on the knee unfriendly gravel (big gravel). I left my digital recorder in the car (duh) but I think I shot this at 1/15 second. I also forgot to bring my right angle viewfinder attachment so I made a few contortions so I could see.
I used the F3’s built in meter set on manual. That sucker is accurate and has never once let me down. When shooting at 1/30 second or slower, mirror slap can cause camera vibrations so I locked the mirror up before shooting. This is the first time I’ve ever tried capturing the movement of water using a slow shutter speed.
OK, I love my 50mm lens(es) but I needed to get closer so I switched to my 75-150 zoom. I took four shots using different aperture/shutter speed combinations. The shots ranged from freezing the movement too much to too soft. I chose one in the middle. I think it was 1/30 this time. I’ll remember to bring my recorder next time. I’m learning. I like the way the water flows over the rocks in this one.
I zoomed all the way in to 150mm for this one. I shot three frames this time. Shooting multiple frames at different settings is the only way to be reasonably sure of getting a good image with film. Again, my intuition told me which of the three was the best image. I followed the same drill using manual exposure with the mirror locked up.
My fingers were getting cold and I was kind of tired so I only shot two frames for this one. I fiddled with the zoom and camera angle just a bit.
I really lucked out here — the single frame came out fine. I moved my tripod so I could get this shot looking across the falls to the far bank of the creek.
I learned a lot on these two shoots. Thanks to Kerry for his example and encouragement. If you haven’t seen Kerry’s photos, get your butt over to his web site Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog . You won’t be disappointed.
So, here are the technical details. The camera for all shots was my Nikon F3HP. I used my Nikon Nikkor-H Auto 50mm f/2, a lens I picked up on eBay years ago for about $35. This lens was made sometime between 1968 and 1971. Originally a non-AI lens, it was converted to work on modern Nikon SLRs. It’s a lovely, all metal lens, the kind they don’t make any more and this guy is sharp.
I prefer prime lenses but make an exception for my 75-150 Nikon e zoom. It’s sort of a cult classic and a damn good performer. I use it exclusively (along with a two element Nikon close up lens) for all my macro work.
The camera was already loaded with Tri-X rated at ISO 1250. I shot the first seven frames indoors on Christmas. Why rated at ISO 1250? Because I process all my film with Diafine and the Tri-X speed in that developer is 1600 but most people get better results at 1250. Next time, I’ll probably load the F3 with Ilford FP4 rated at a more modest ISO of 250 so I can work with slower shutter speeds more easily.
So glad I finally got my first taste of the wonders of the Wenonah trails. I’ll be going back (a lot).