The Photograph Explained: Magnificence by Steve Tester


Platinum/Palladium photograph

Between the southern Flinders Ranges and Mt Remarkable National Park a few remnants of ancient River Red Gums have survived felling and land clearing. Changes in rainfall patterns mean they could be the last to be seen in that country.

These stately growing monuments were a strong attraction to me to try and capture not only their physical presence but that other indefinable something; their sense of place, their aura, their soul.

I photograph mainly in the fresh morning light when kangaroos and echidnas make their way to daytime retreats. I had spent several days in the bush taking photographs but still feeling un satisfied. On the last day of the trip I revisited a favorite place in the afternoon just to enjoy the quiet. Making a photograph was not my intention and my mind wondered. As if the landscape spoke to me I looked up and there in all its sunlit glory a lone River Red Gum beckoned.

Pulse rate increased, hands shook a little as I positioned the tripod and mounted the 8 x 10 and thought about landscape or portrait? Composition always the first thought. What lens, how to deal with a cloudless blue sky. Choices made; landscape orientation; 300mm G Claron lens; to achieve sky gradation an orange filter; shading to keep the lens in shadow; front rise. Exposure detail unknown. Probably f45. Shadows zone III1/2. I was using TRI X 320 rated at 200 and the film developed in PMK Pyro. I hand coat Bergger paper with Platinum/ Palladium and contact print; a wonderful combination for exquisite highlight separation.

Steve Tester with 8x10 camera

Steve Tester