Shiprock and Storm, 1997. Near Shiprock, New Mexico
|On a stormy afternoon I approached the volcanic
landmark called Shiprock, located near the town of Shiprock in
the four corners area of New Mexico. The clouds were moving very
rapidly, which can be both a blessing and a curse for a large
format photographer. I somewhat anticipated the movement of the
glowing, cottony clouds across the desert landscape and quickly
set up my Super Cambo 4x5 view camera alongside a dirt road. I
was very fortunate to get this image, which changed dramatically
with every passing second. The print is not very straight forward.
In order to make a good print of this image, I used a contrast
reduction mask to lighten the foreground area so that subtle
detail could show on the print. I also used a highlight
mask to enhance the luminous forms of the bright billowy clouds.
I also experimented with a new mask which I call a "spotting
mask". Since the sky had a dust spot which printed dark
(due to dust on the negative at the time of exposure in the camera),
it was literally impossible to diminish the spot successfully
on the print without resorting to etching or other very cumbersome
techniques. The spotting mask worked beautifully, and the dust
spot blends into the sky background almost perfectly. With this
new masking technique in mind, I'll be examining a lot of older
images that I haven't printed in the past due to large dust spots.
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