Thursday, May 8, 9:30pm.
I just loaded my 1989 Blazer K5 with some digital-only shooting gear for a short trip to Tonopah to pick up a vacuum seal press I purchased from my friend Jim Galli. Might as well drive through Yosemite over Tioga Pass as that one just opened early for the season ... low snow pack.
Nothing scenic about the drive as it is already dark. I arrive at the Tunnel View in Yosemite at 1:15am. I can see the moon through the cloud cover at times. Not promising for sunrise but at least there's some cloud cover and not just an empty barren bare sky. I sleep a few hours in the Blazer. It is cold.
5:45am wake-up call. There are few photographers set up already. All digital 35mm DSLR. I set up my Mamiya 645AFDii and Leaf Aptus 10 on my tripod and keep the Nikon D3x at hand just in case. Whitish sun light peaks immediately through the clouds which make for high contrast images if one doesn't want to blow out the streaks in the sky. I shoot my first panorama on the Mamiya and while the files are writing to the memory card I notice the light color change briefly. I grab the Nikon and fire few shots. Bingo on the second one ... that light quality never returned.
Hardly any snow, little water in the falls. Twenty minutes later everyone is wrapped up and we disperse through the park. One young man showed up with a Horseman 4x5 but it was already late ... and bright.
I shoot some more on various spots and hit the 120 for more photography. Exit Tioga Pass in the late afternoon. My GPS had just died and blown the auxiliary fuse. Soo, heading first to Bridgeport to pick up some fuses at Reilly's Autocare, this adds another 60 miles or so to the drive. It's not my first trip to Tonopah, so I don't need really need the GPS but I do need to charge my phone.
Saturday morning, arrival at Jim's place after spending the night in the Jim Butler motel, just across the fancy Mitzpah Hotel. Jim Butler founded Tonopah on May 25, 1900 ... a very young city.
Jim and I talk soft focus lenses over coffee and look at gear and talk photography over more coffee. I take some pictures of Jim's Karl Struss lenses for a future blog write-up. There's most likely an interesting story to write about my Karl Struss 9" Pictorial lens but you'll have to wait for this a bit longer.
We load our photography gear in Jim's 1929 Ford Model A roadster. Everything fits in the rumble seat and on the floor. My large carry-on Think Tank roller bag with Induro tripod and Jim's Kodak 2D with Manfrotto tripod and head and of course a whole bunch of film holders. Jim's plan is to shoot with 3 soft focus lenses, one that is new to him. My plan is to shoot digital medium frame with the Karl Struss Pictorial lens I've been playing with the last few months now.
We opt to shoot inside the Kelly foundry although there's a million things to shoot nearby outside. It's just too early in the day to shoot outside. The light is still harsh and neither one of us wants to stop the soft focus lenses down significantly.
I won't write much about the images I got during the first session. I photographed some shiny stuff but I was mesmerized by the amount of dust and texture and diffuse light quality in the space. I shoot in color and post process in CS6. All images shot with Karl Struss Pictorial Lens, 9", serial #282 on a Mamiya 645AFDii and Leaf Aptus 10 digital back.
Wide open, chains suspended in the large space
f/8, chain and hook suspended in the large space
f/7, pulley, hook and rope in indirect diffuse light
Wide open, pulley, hooks and rope in indirect diffuse light
Wide open, more pulleys
f/8, same pulleys as above ... observe how this image firms up significantly at smaller aperture, all as expected and evidenced in prior blogs
f/8, rope, wooden pulley, chain ... texture ... depth ... this image needs some more work though ...
f/6.3, large motor chains
Wide open, more motor chains on the same rack ... all under diffuse indirect light
By now it was time for a break ... the Mitzpah has great burgers, fast service and a lovely real vintage decor ... still feels like the day of the opening ... 1907. Jim showed me some images on the second floor of the hotel that were made with a Cirkut camera. Must see when you're there !
The rest of the images from the afternoon are for another installment shortly. Jim Galli's 8x10 and full plate images shot with Hyperion, Spencer and Mirroscope lens can be seen at the link below ... enjoy !