The Photograph Explained: Rock pool and Dolphin Point By Zigi Georges
Silver gelatin photograph
Soon after the 4am alarm I am in the pre- packed car with my photographic Sherpa friend, driving to the Noosa National Park for this particular 8 x 10 photographic venture. It is just becoming light, the air is cool and the birds are chirping and twittering.
As we get the equipment, shackle on backpacks, tripod in hand, a sense of quiet anticipation and excitement pervades our being. Every step is the beginning of a leap into infinity. As we walk along the Coastal Track towards Tea Tree Bay, the mind is occupied with glimpses of sky and sea, the smell and taste of saltiness on the lips, and the coastal banksias gently brushing against our bodies.
A short clamber down a stony path takes us to a rocky platform with indentations, ridges, pools and waves breaking at the edges. It is time to set up the tripod, camera, lenses, cable release, spot meter, focusing cloth and observe what unfolds. Whilst nothing in large format photography is instantaneous, except for the final shutter release, there is still looking to be done.
The large format photographer stands on the edge of rock and sea surrounded by a vast openness that is omnipresent and seeps through the senses and the viewing lens to fill her/his mind, cleansing it of the everyday world now far away. This is the moment of achieving harmony with nature and purifying of the mind and senses to see.
A rock pool appears lit up beneath the morning sky like a new mirror reflecting an infinite vastness beyond it. The mind melds into it and instinctively the photographer marshals his equipment to respond to the occasion.
Infinity alone may be sufficient for mind only, but there is also a solidity to this world, the anchoring of infinity into rock and balancing it with the life of trees, that appear solid until you notice the outcrop of several spindly stems trying for life outside the pack.
The light is changing rapidly with the sun about to peek over the trees. The moment is now. Pull the dark slide and release the shutter. Seconds after clicking the shutter the sun was over the trees and Dolphin Point was just a flare of light.
Quickly one changes location. There are other pools and vistas to capture within the next few minutes. Maybe one or two more clicks and then the magic of slanting morning light becomes a brightly lit scene, still beautiful, but not necessarily photogenic.
The experienced landscape large format photographer knows when to pack up and leave in tranquillity. We shoulder our burdens, tighten waist belts and step smartly towards the car all before most people have still not had breakfast. We have acquired a new appreciation of the abundance of nature and know that there will be other times of magic and light; in other Seasons and other locations.
So why large format?
It is a way of focusing on the present, on achieving harmony with nature, and a purification of the mind and senses. It removes the blinkers and opens up the mind to the here and now. One also acquires a deep respect for photographic equipment and adroitness in using it.
For Rock Pool and Dolphin Point I used my 8 x 10 double extension field view camera, mounted on a carbon fibre and magnesium tripod with a 3-way head. I chose my 360 mm f6.8 lens to maintain a normal perspective. Back tilt Scheimpflug was used to get a deep focus effect.
A 15 year old Tri X Pan Professional 320 was rated at an EI of 100. The film had been refrigerated for all those years, and the results were a rich negative that was very easy to print. I had much fewer problems with burnt out highlights with this film than I did with a much more modern film that I used some days later, just for comparison.
The TPX was developed in a stock replenished developer (7 min @ 27° c) and the final image was created on FBVC glossy silver gelatin paper in an 8 x 10 contact printing frame. I shall possibly selenium tone this and other photographs for permanence and a cool effect.
The image is one of many taken over the years throughout Noosa National Park. It is interesting to re-visit rock pools; they are never ever the same.
Photographs of Zigi by Maris Rusis.