Winter evening Yosemite Tunnel View on 4×5 film, by Intrepid 4×5 large format film camera, Caltar 150mm f/5.6 lens, Ilford HP5 Plus film

The past week, Yosemite welcome its first snow of the season. We did not get a chance to go there until the snow stopped, and thus missed the best moment when the valley was blanketed by fresh powder. However, clear evening brought an opportunity to shoot the Tunnel View under moon light with large format film camera.

For people unfamiliar with large format photography, it was commonly accepted that night is the enemy for this form of photography due to a few limitations. First of all, it is extremely challenging to focus and compose with the ground glass in evening because there was virtually no image to look at on the ground glass. Secondly, film has a notorious problem for long exposure, namely reciprocity failure. It means that a long exposure in digital world need to be extended to an extreme length.

Fortunately, our experience had told us we could try to focus on the moon or bight stars in the evening. And in this evening, we had a clear sky with an almost full moon. It was relatively easy to focus on the moon on the ground glass because it was a big and bright circle on the sky. Bright moon light also created a not-so-bright image visible on the ground glass. It made composition possible.

The other benefit of bright moon light is that it brought down the exposure time to several minutes at a relatively low speed of ISO 400, a common speed for fast films. Reciprocity table pointed to at least 4 times of the exposure for the Ilford HP5 Plus film we used. And we decided to push it to 10 times longer, which gave us 60 minutes exposure in the end.

The result was surprisingly good. The film responded to the moon light very well, and held a great deal of details with barely visible grain. Whether this was the first attempt to capture the evening Tunnel View on large format film, we do not know. It surely was a rare one.

Dual Milkweed Trees, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park

Santa Cruz island features many milkweed trees, a specific plant that provide food source for larva of the famous migrating monarch butterfly. We didn’t find any monarch butterfly on those trees on the island. Nevertheless, the trees were a wonderful subject to photograph on black and white film, just like oak trees.

These two milkweed trees were at the edge of a campground on the island. When passing by them, we were attracted by the shape of the trees with their far-reaching branches and bare barks. We set up our Intrepid 4×5 large format camera, and captured this photo on a sheet of Fomapan 400 film. We positioned the tree in the front and let it play a dominant role in the frame. The tree in the back, while smaller, provides a sense of depth and balances the weight in the frame. At a small aperture of f/32, both trees retain the sharpness we wanted.

First impression of Santa Cruz Island on film

This is our second time to visit Santa Cruz Island, the largest island of Channel Islands National Park. A few years ago, we planned to visit Anacapa Island. However, strong wind forced us to change the plan, and we ended up on Santa Cruz Island instead. It was a short tour of only a few hours. This year, we decided to camp on the island for two nights and explore it more throughly.

By the sunset of our second night, we were on the west side hill next to the boat landing dock. It offered a beautiful view of the sea stacks near the dock. We set up our Intrepid 4×5 camera, and made a 15 second long exposure of this view on a sheet of Kodak TMAX 100 black and white film.

China Travel Photos by Xpan and Fujifilm Provia 100f Slide Film

Almost a decade ago, we travelled to China to visit our relatives. On that trip, we carried a Hasselblad Xpan camera and several rolls of color slide films. After coming back to the States, we stored the exposed films into the freezer, waiting for an appropriate moment to develop them. The waiting turned out to be near ten years long. Finally, thanks to, we got these rolls of color slide films developed at an affordable cost. It brought back joys to us with the precious memory of that trip! And the color rendition of Fujifilm Provia 100F film is simply stunning.