There was this one scene I wanted to capture. I stumbled upon it walking up Old Man Coniston in the Lake District just before reaching the peak. Out of nowhere (unless you’ve studied an OS map) a body of water appears when approaching from the east. As we reached the water’s edge, the sun was bursting through the clouds for the first time in days. The light was fantastic, catching 2 large boulders protruding from the perfectly flat, reflective water with the hill layers mirrored on the surface.
I hastily unloaded my bag, setting up the Intrepid 8x10 as quickly as I could - this was the first time I had taken it out for a proper walk - it felt small in the surroundings.
Unscrew, unscrew, unscrew, unfold, unfold, screw, screw, unscrew, unscrew, rotate back, screw, screw, insert lens. Every step felt clumsy as I saw the clouds starting to form in front of the sun. Throwing my waterproof over the top as a darkcloth, I composed the frame.
It was no good. My gut instinct of how wide a 300mm lens on 8x10 was going to be, was wrong (about 45mm on 35mm equivalent I found out later). A quick move just into the water would do it. More re-adjustments. Damn. Portrait is much better. Unscrew, unscrew, rotate, screw, screw…..arrggghh the final screw wouldn’t align! Screw. it’s in.
Focus. Meter. Set lens. AND….the sun has gone. Watching. Waiting. The clouds moving flippantly over the peak. Finally they go again, only for the sun to have now dropped, the shadow of Old Man being cast over most of the frame, not to return for at least 12 hours.
Remove lens, unscrew, fold, screw, unscrew, unscrew, fold, screw, screw, close tripod, pack bag, eat a banana and continue.
I mustered up the energy to take 2 more images on the way back down, neither of which I am particularly drawn to, and in hindsight I rushed them both regards composition. Strawberry fudge with white chocolate topping was calling us back.
The following morning I decided to get out by 6am, the worst of the weather for had past and a clear morning was forecast. Mist over the lake was inevitable.
I gave myself more time to setup and this time thankfully the lighting wasn’t changing as quickly.
There’s no rushing an 8x10 image, although I hope the setup time will become more efficient with practise, everything else surrounding it forces commitment. Even though I’m happier with this last image it certainly doesn’t make the most of what 8x10 can achieve regards detail and scale.
Oh and if you’re interested in the insane detail contained within a 8x10 negative here’s a crop of the ‘View over Coniston’ showing the jetty from the ‘Morning Mist’. About 2.5m away from where it was taken.
There’s a whole other element to these images as well, and that’s the development and printing (or scanning). What it feels like to process and use a negative of this size (magical). However, I’ll leave that for another day while I contemplate how to experiment next with the format. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Film : ILFORD FP4+ 8x10
Developer : ILFORD ID-11
Camera : Intrepid 8x10
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