Spirit of the mountain

Spirit of the Mountains by Darnell Wu - Shot on ILFORD PHOTO HP5 Plus black and white film

Spirit of the Mountains ©Darnell Wu

Technical info

Film UsedILFORD HP5 PLUS 400

Format4 x 10 inch

Camera CHAMONIX 4*10 N2

Lens SINARON S 72° f=300mm

Exposure time1/2S

Other equipmentCOKIN red filter with SEKONIC 508 light meter with tripod.

LocationMinya Konka, Yaha nek, Sichuan Range

Firstly, tell us the story behind this image. What inspired you to shoot it?

I was still in the first year of high school when I shot this and needed to ask for leave to shoot.  Therefore, it was a purposeful 4-day itinerary, allowing limited time for shooting. It takes two days to go back and forth, so the actual shooting time is only two days.

The destination is Mount Gongga, it is very famous in Asia, Sichuan range, people call it the “The King of Sichuan Mountains." The shooting location is at the mouth of 4,600 meters above sea level, the wind speed is as high as 12, so that the car that stores the camera equipment will also be blown. In Chinese idioms, it is the wind knife frost sword.

I took this film because I liked the image tone of HP5.

Did you come across any challenges?

Yes, I took this photo when I was 15 years old. My physical strength and physical condition cannot be compared with adults. On the real plateau, altitude sickness, low temperatures, and squalls kept me awake. The operation time is also 2-3 times that at ordinary times. The biggest challenge for me was that weather conditions can change quickly and when I was changing the lens, the strong wind actually knocked down the camera on the tripod. The lens on the fuselage has been broken when it is detected. Challenged myself under psychological and physical pressure and completed the first time on plateau shooting.

Behind the scenes shot from Darnell Wu

Behind the scenes shot from Darnell Wu

What process did you use (Tripod? Set exposure time? Filters? Lighting?)

I used the middle-sized tripod and a COKIN red filter with SEKONIC light meter. As with any long exposure photograph, a tripod is essential. Preferably one with a ball head to make adjustments easier, however any tripod will work.

The exposure time for this photograph was 1/2s at f 64.in this scene, I choose the 300mm lens to shoot. On top of the mountain the wind can move the tripod. I shot eight 4*10 HP5 but only one is clear! In the wind It’s not easy to catch the nice moment.

How did you process it?

My parents are engaged in film post-production and I was influenced by them from when I was a child. This picture used the Italian TECNOLAB dip and dunk film processor, chemistry of choice has always been ILFORD DD. HP5 PLUS can straight process makes the tone perfect.

What about printing?

I used the “KODAK IQ Smart 2”to scan negatives,To got the perfect digital file.I especially like the local mountains and clouds bordering.

Which paper did you use and what was your printing process?

I printed this image digitally as my enlarger doesn’t have a negative holder for 4x10.

Any additional comments?

Shooting film gave me peace and freed the burden of city life. From my point of view, black and white film can eliminate the clutter, but retain my shooting inspiration.

Black and white film is elegant and simple, I love it because it is timeless. Shooting wide format gives me a better visual enjoyment.

I think everyone has his own mountain in his mind. This is my mind mountain. It gives me the invisible power hidden in peace.

Behind the scenes shot from Darnell Wu

Behind the scenes shot from Darnell Wu