2012 was an interesting year for me. After playing around with the idea of photographing on film –again– for 6 months in 2011, I made the decision to move back 100% to film for my work last year.Since then I haven’t photographed anything digital anymore.At first I was moderately successful translating tones and colours to Ansel’s zone system.
But soon I found out that making a perfect exposure wasn’t the tricky part of the whole proces. The problem was that I wasn’t able to translate my vision of a scene to the negative all that well.Until the morning I saw this scene. A beautiful row of gnarly looking trees just NE of Calgary (somewhere along Highway 9 I believe). The heavy fog had created a beautiful layer of hoar frost. I was racing back and forth on this country road to find the perfect looking tree as ‘center piece’ of my composition. I had just set up my camera and decided on the focal length of the lens when the sun came out and the fog started to lift. I knew I had to be swift because the fog was disappearing very quickly.And then I made the decision to screw on the red filter to add some drama. Zone placement was pretty simple. I placed the tree trunks on zone IV (with the red filter I knew they where going to fall a little lower so that was good). The foreground snow fell on Zone VI and the illuminated tree branches on VII and VIII. Also with the red filter I knew the contrast in the sky, which was now just fog and clear blue sky would be enhanced.
After developing the negative in my kitchen a few days later I was very excited to see this negative. It turned out perfect and very little adjustments had to be made. Just a little burning on the edges and a contrast adjustment.
This image is the very first image I created where everything fell into place. It’s one of my favourites images of last winter. Since then I have a far better understanding of the creative usage of Ansel’s zone system.