The Photograph Explained: Woolshed Falls, Beechworth by Alastair Moore

Woolshed Falls, Beechworth

Occasionally, in photography, I feel I have one of those break-through moments and this image was one of them. Overall, it is by no means breaking any barriers or an image that will set the world alight, but it was very much an achievement for me personally in that I finally felt I had a developing process in place that was consistent and gave me great negatives. Not only that, I like it a lot.

Near the end of 2013, I moved back to the United Kingdom after living in Australia for two and a half years (but I shall return! I’ll be back alright). On returning, I found myself moving onto a 53 foot narrowboat and living on the waterways of London. This meant some significant changes in my life, particularly to the way I dealt with photography. I was no longer able to use a large format digital printer and certainly the idea of setting up a dark room on the boat was futile. But I knew I would, at the very least, be able to develop my negatives and I would consider the printing at a later stage.

I had previously bought a Paterson Orbital print processor, which had been sat unused while I was living in Sydney. Given my lack of space – I previously used to develop negatives using trays – this seemed the perfect opportunity to give the Orbital a go. My first attempt with it resulted in ruined negatives, sadly. But after spending a little time modifying the Orbital – mainly removing the fins and adding rubber domes on the base of the processor to raise the negatives, I started getting some very nice, full negatives. Probably the best negatives I’ve ever developed, oddly enough.

I worked through the backlog of negatives I had captured on my final weekend in Australia, in Beechworth, Victoria for the second Large Format Group weekend. It was one of two photographs I had high hopes for. This particular photograph was certainly the better of the two.

It was captured on Kodak TMax 400 on my Tachihara 8×10 camera with my solitary 8×10 lens, a Fujinon 300mm f5.6, and developed in the Paterson Orbital using Rodinal for 6 ½ minutes. I found it surprisingly ungrainy (if that’s a word?) considering TMax 400, Rodinal and continuous agitation. It was scanned, a little touching up in Photoshop Lightroom mainly to increase the contrast – nothing that you couldn’t do in a darkroom.

Over the course of the weekend, I had wanted to capture nothing more than one solid, strong image – one that would remind me of my time in Australia. I’ve always found myself attracted to water and images featuring water. Indeed, my first year shooting with a large format camera, most if not all captures were of water or featured water. I’ve mostly lived near water over the last ten years and currently am living literally on the water. It’s very much part of my life and I find movement of water – whether the sea with all it’s power and might or something more restrained such as this waterfall close to Beechworth in Victoria – incredibly fascinating, soothing and hypnotic.

I was attracted to the various shapes that pointed towards the waterfall and how some of them almost mirrored each other, particularly the shadow on the right and the darker patch on the left. Given the opportunity to capture this image again, I would have lowered the camera a little to completely remove the patch of sky in the top right, which I find a little distracting.

I would like to take the negative in a darkroom sometime in the near future and work on a few wet prints of this image. I was very pleased with the resulting negative and scan and a contact print would do this image the justice I believe it deserves.

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Alastair Moore (co-editor of Large Format Photograph Australia Blog)