Truck in the Center of the Town

Truck and TownWhen framing up these panoramas my compositional agenda was to look for layers. I tried to bring some object into the foreground while looking for a perspective that aligned interesting items behind it. While looking for this image, I walked all the way around the truck and finally ended here giving each element a place of its own.

Horizon Perfekt, Arista Premium 400 (TriX 400), Clayton Chemicals F76+ (1+9), 7:15 @ 68º. Agitate for the first 30 seconds and 2 turns every minute.

Propped Up in Bodie

Propped UpThe Horizon Perfekt is a Russian camera, made in China, and sold by Lomography. It is in a class of cameras called swing-lens cameras. This camera takes a 120º pano with a 28mm lens by rotating a slit from left-to-right. The film itself, ordinary 35mm film, is held in an arc so that the lens is equidistant to the film plane during the full image capture.

I was inspired to purchase this camera by the work of Jeff Bridges (yes, the actor, son of Loyd Bridges the star of Sea Hunt) who uses a vintage camera called a Widelux. Jeff Bridges uses his to document the making of his movies. I was looking to purchase a Widelux, but they are expensive and due to their age, prone to need custom repair. The Horizon Perfekt was $349 through the Lomo site and comes with a 2-year warranty.

Development notes: Arista Premium 400 treated as if identical to Kodak TriX 400. Developed in Clayton Chemicals F76+ (1+9), 7:15min @68º. This was an experiment to increase the development time to bring out a little more contrast than my previous TriX negs. I will keep this new time, especially for overcast soft lighting. Agitation first 30 sec, then 2 turns per minute. Your mileage may vary.

Bodie and the Horizon Perfekt

Store

Do a search for Bodie on the inter-galactic-web and you will find lots of pictures. Color, black & while, and plenty of HDR. Each time I visit Bodie I want to capture its mood in a special way. My plan for this visit was to take a bunch of 4×5 looking to capture as much detail as I could muster. But I also took along a new toy – the Horizon Perfekt. The Perfekt is a “swing-lens” camera taking a 120º view by, literally, swinging a lens around an axis. It uses 35mm film, but the negatives are about 1.5 times wider. Once I started framing up the area with the Perfekt, I couldn’t stop.

What to make of Bodie?

The Cain House Past
The Cain House Past by I Nancy, on Flickr

There are advantages and disadvantages of being married to a raving railroad fanatic. The advantages is that he loves an adventure and anything involving trains and railroad history. The disadvantage is that, even when you are on an Eastern Sierras fall color trip, the historic gold-rush town of Bodie, just north of Mono Lake, is one of the first stops on the trip. Go to Bodie, go directly to Bodie, do not stop and take pictures of the flaming mountain scapes on Conway Summit, do not dally in the yellow and orange Aspen forests or creekside on the many canyons and creeksides, do not collect 200 photographs.

But the weather was incredibly photography friendly for our afternoon jaunt to Bodie and my husband drove the dirt roads which, though shaken and rattled, our trusty silver Prius managed just fine.

As I walked the streets I started my visioning process, a process I learned through the writings of David DuChemin’s Within The Frame series. David talks about creating a mental checklist of all the things you feel and observe at your photographic location. Bodie is an odd town and a microcosm of California’s gold-rush history. One of the largest and most successful gold mining towns in California. At it’s height, around 1880, it had a population of ten thousand people, hundreds of saloons, and was renowned for its lawlessness. It is a town of bitter winter cold and dramatic summer heat. The boom was short lived and began a stead decline from 1881. In 1932 a fire, fabled to be started by 2 1/2 year old “Bodie Bill“, destroyed over 90% of the town.

It was cloudy enough to provide that big softbox-in-the-sky effect but with just enough patches of blue texture to capture dramatic patterns. The builds have an undisturbed patina and in a state of “arrested decay”. I wanted to capture the notion of Bodie still inhabited with each building alive telling the stories of its dramatic past. With a wide-angle lens, and some judicious HDR,  here is my approach to breath life into these structures so that they can tell us their story in their own words.

No Sermons Lately
No Sermons Lately by I Nancy, on Flickr