Thoughtfactory: large format

a minor blog about the trials, tribulations and explorations of large format, analogue photography in Australia

an experiment gone wrong

How can you photograph the landscape in the era of the Anthropocene in a way that addresses the future that is already  coming? 

The photo below was an attempt in 2022 to try and  represent the movement of hanging  bark caused by the wind within the context of  the strangeness of the local bush in Waitpinga  in the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia.  It was in the early morning during early autumn, when there was a light  breeze  gently moving the bark. The blur was designed to step away from the picturesque or the tourist style. 

The method chosen was a  double exposure of one 5x7 sheet of film  and 2  long exposures of around 40 seconds each. The composition  had been pre-determined with some earlier scoping with a digital camera.  

Alas, the experiment did not work at all.  Failure. 

The tonality of the photo  turned out to be utterly different to what I'd pre-visualized and planned for.  I couldn't believe  what I was seeing when I scanned the negative. "What the hell" was my immediate response. I was dumbfounded.   Then, when I realised the scan was okay, a wave of embarrassment surged through me.  This was such a long way from the quality standards of the large format culture. 

This "location" photo  from the photo session shows that there was  little room  to situate the 5x7  monorail camera. It also highlights the colour shift with the sheet  film,  which  I didn't really plan for:

I  spent ages  trying to restore the image to what I'd pre-visualised based on the look of  the scoping digital version.  This indicates that  I wasn't really trying to recreate the other worldly look of autochrome --- the early colour the beginning of the 20th century.  

I even considered  converting the image to black and white then colouring the monochrome  by hand. I went back to the site to re-photograph but the storms  had destroyed the bark.  I gave up. The image is what it is. I just  had to accept it's materiality for what it is. 

I thought that I would show the experiment that had gone badly wrong, even with all the pre-planning. I guess the strangeness of the bush does start to comes through.  That's something. Maybe the experiment was not the  complete disaster that I'd initially thought? Failure can be thought of as a path through   the bushland, with all its twists and turns that abruptly comes to a dead end or a clearing in the bush.