The first snow of winter

I like winter. I like the snow, the crisp cold air, the frosty mornings, the low afternoon light. But mostly the snow. Lots of snow. Snow, snow, snow.

So with the recent snow fall up north I decided to set the alarm early for a road trip to go and find some. That early alarm turned into a midday start (hey, it was a Sunday), but I still managed to reach the snow with some daylight left.

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The first thing I noticed while working on these images was a slight ripple shadow pattern on the negatives. It’s odd that the ripples run along the negative not across it, which leaves me stumped as to the cause. This was the first roll I have processed in my new Paterson tank, so that might be a factor (I replaced my old Jessops tank as it was lightly fogging the left edge of all my medium format negatives). More experimentation needed I think.

Anyway, to the images…

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I always find it hard to get the finished image to convey the scene as I saw it with snowy landscapes. The snow has a shine to it that these jpegs can’t really convey. My efforts here appear to be underexposed, but in reality they were spot on exposures (I used a handheld light meter and the negatives look spot on).

I pushed and pulled the tone curve about in Lightroom to push the snow towards white while also trying not to completely blow out the sky. The image above is about right in the top two thirds of the frame, but it has left the foreground looking rather dull (although it being in shade didn’t help).

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The bridge makes for a more exciting, and well lit, foreground here. I like the way it leads the eye towards the snowy peak, although I had to ensure the sky retained enough tone to stop the mountain being lost against it.

There are probably more complicated post-processing techniques I could have tried, but they are a lot of faffing about and i’d rather get some half decent shots in the bank and move onto the next roll than spend all week feltling. In the good old hand printing days I would have waved my hands about under the enlarger lamp and made it all fine (it’s called dodging and burning if you want to get technical) but I find the equivalent digital tools lacking.

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As always my Bronica ETRSi was a joy to use with it’s no nonsense click-clunk ways and a roll of Ilford FP4+ to take advantage of the bright sunlight and avoid the kind of grain I would have got with a faster film like Tri-X.

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I find these are conditions where digital senors (or at least the ones in my vintage of cameras) fall over quite badly as the high contrast leads to either seriously blown highlights or blocked up shadows. I think maybe digital is catching up now (my workhorse D300 being some 4+ years old) and my next trip up north might be with a shiny new DSLR to see if progress has indeed been made.

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