Wildflowers, Clouds, Moon, Mono Craters Ridge
full print size of 28.6x35.6 inches @304.8ppi, above displayed at 1/178
Copyright © David Senesac 2004 view detailed crop
Inyo National Forest, Mono County
early morning Tuesday July 6, 2004, slide 04-O-30
Wisner 4x5 Expedition, 90mm Rodenstock, Gitzo G1325 Mk2
Tango Drum scanned Fuji Provia 100F 4x5 film to 300mb RGB file
Adobe Photoshop 6.0 processed for accurate image fidelity
Lightjet5000 printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
signature bottom left
A few days earlier carrying my 6x7 camera, I had rambled across several miles of uninteresting landscapes about Mono Craters while looking for interesting subjects. Wildflowers were generally so sparse that they would not make an impact in anything I saw. On my way back to the road, I ventured across this slope which on my topographic map appeared promising. Indeed numbers of wildflowers were far more dense than anywhere else. I roamed back and forth for a couple hours taking a few mediocre late morning 6x7 frames while evaluating possible locations for a future 4x5 frame. A friend and I subsequently did a three day backpack into the Ritter Range.
A couple days after returning from that trip I hiked back up in frosty early morning air then went directly to this already selected spot. That was fortunate too because I noticed the Moon was lowering towards the peak at frame right and some very nice high thin clouds were moving across the sky. I would need to work quickly. Evaluating the exact position to take an image is something I do well, honed through many years of experience. First I may find the approximate spot, after tripoding and looking through a lens, the position is fine tuned as I just consider the bounds of a frame. At that point the tripod and most of the camera movements are tightened up.
Next, focusing is the most difficult process. One must approximately adjust the tilt movements, then fine tune focus so all sections of the large ground glass image come into optimum focus. In any case one can never focus all scene elements in the plane of perfect focus but rather from experience compromise where such will be. In this image the skyline trees and peak were focused sharply with near tilt sharpness about one-third of the frame up from the bottom.
The next step is selecting the film exposure. With slide film as Provia 100F such is critical. Being off by more than 1/3 stop may make an image unsalvageable even with digital processing.
Normally I just expose a single sheet without bracketing since 4x5 film is expensive, particularly when using Quickloads which I prefer. I use a Polaris Dual 5 digital exposure meter to take one incident and then several reflective EV readings of the scene. Selecting an exposure from those readings which usually vary at least a couple stops between elements is a matter of experience. For maximum depth of field I stopped way down between f32 and f45. Finally shoved in a Quickload film holder with film and took the shot just a few minutes later when the Sun emerged fully from behind some thin clouds.
Across the slope are numerous red hued Applegate's Paintbrush, castilleja applegatei. Yellow flowers are sulphur flower, eriogonum umbellatum. Less prominent but scattered throughout the frame are blue hued silver lupine, lupinus argenteus. Just right of a prominent red paintbrush within the circle of rocks frame lower right, is one bluish purple hued showy penstemon, penstemon speciosus. And further right near the frame edge a bushy linanthus, linanthus nuttalli. At near mid frame are a couple of young jeffrey pines, pinus jeffrreyi. Further up on the slope are mainly lodgepole pines, pinus murrayana. Geologically, rock here is white to light gray rhyolite ash, pumice lapilli, and shards of obsidian. All pyroclastic deposits erupted from the several nearby Mono Craters. Many eruptions have occurred very recent geologically within the last 40,000 years with some nearby only a few hundred years ago. Native Americans of the Piute group lived in natural harmony about this region. The considerable obsidian glass all about the craters was a valuable commodity they traded with to other groups far beyond. This slope looks absolutely pristine except possibly for the group of rocks at right which appear so old that I'd venture those Americans built a special ceremonial fire here centuries ago. Maybe after a day of enjoying these beautiful wildflowers too.