Tag Archives: Bluegrass

A Day in Versailles

How I wish it were in France, but central Kentucky is a great consolation prize. For those of you outside Kentucky, it’s not pronounced “Ver-SIGH-ee.” It’s “Ver-SAILS.” Also nearby are Paris (PEAR-us, not pear-EE) and Athens (AEE-thens, not ATH-ens). Took the Yashica-12 medium format 6×6 roll film camera and a roll of Neopan Acros (Fujifilm) to try.

I’m trying to learn new exposure and developing techniques. Today I wanted to try exposing for shadows and making development adjustments to bring out more detail in the shadows. For the Acros, box speed is 100, so I rated it at ASA 50. On every shot, I metered for shadows using a spot meter, then increased exposure by 2 stops. When I developed in Ilford Perceptol at 1:3, I reduced development time by about 20%. From what I’ve read, this keeps the highlights from blowing out.

I have to say that it works. It allowed me to decide what kind of detail I wanted in Photoshop. It’s very similar to, if not exactly like, using the zone system to control contrast. By metering for the part of the scene where you want to retain detail in the shadows, you are essentially placing that in zone III in a 7-zone system. Your camera meter is searching for medium 18% gray, or zone V in a 7-zone system. If I would meter for the shadow detail and not increase exposure, then that shadow would be medium gray and the highlights blown out. The opposite is true when metering bright subjects like snow. The meter is looking for gray, so it will reduce exposure to make that snow gray and block the shadows.

Ansel Adams’ trilogy on photography outlines the zone system and previsualization. By anticipating where tones will be in a picture before the shutter is released is a powerful skill. But Adams’ system encompasses 9 zones, which are perfect for large format photography. But I shoot 35mm and medium format, which has less contrast in enlargements. Plus, I’m not a professional and can’t distinguish such minute changes in shade. I base my view of the zone system on one proposed by Carson Graves in his book The Zone System for 35mm Photographers. This book opened my eyes to the zone system. I had read Adams’ books on it, but it never totally clicked until I read Graves’ book and tried his technique. I suggest you get it (used ones are really cheap!) and try it.

Versailles, KY

“Doublecross” Versailles, KY

Versailles, KY

“Plant Stand” Versailles, KY

Versailles, KY.

“Refershing” Versailles, KY.

Versailles, KY

“Mailslot” Versailles, KY

Small Town American Holiday

A short series featuring central Kentucky small towns celebrating Independence Day.

Scott County, KY  (Bronica ETRS, Kodak Portra 400)

Scott County, KY (Bronica ETRS, Kodak Portra 400)

Nicholasville, Kentucky

Nicholasville, Kentucky (Nikon F4s, Kodak Portra 400)

Nicholasville, KY

Nicholasville, KY (Nikon F4s, Kodak Portra 400)

Nicholasville, Kentucky. (Nikon F4s, Kodak Portra 400)

Nicholasville, Kentucky. (Nikon F4s, Kodak Portra 400)



Shooting From Your Backside

I took a recent trip to Irvine, Kentucky.  I have pictures here in my posts of that trip (and more to come).  There was an interesting mural on the wall of a local business that told the story of Estill County.


County Mural, Irvine, KY  (Canon AE-1, Kodak Portra 400)

It’s a tourist photo I know, but I had to get it out of my system.  However, a rule I learned a long time ago has netted me great results:  when you’re drawn to a subject, turn around and look at what is behind you (and above you, and at your feet).  That’s where you might find the real photo.


Kudzu Railroad, Irvine, KY  (Canon AE-1, Kodak Portra 400)

There was this unbelievable layer of kudzu all over the hillside, broken up only by the railroad track.   You can even see that kudzu would have strangled it as well if it weren’t for the regular freight trains that cut through screaming, “Hah, not today!  You’re not fast enough!”

Kudzu is a real problem in the southeastern US.  I have seen it countless times, but it never ceases to make me pause whenever I come across it.  It’s a lot like seeing mountain-top mining.  They rape the mountain by lopping its top off, then leave it to die.  You feel powerless looking at the landscape that is forever scarred by man’s violence.

With kudzu, you’re watching nature strangle the land.  And what’s prophetic, is it was man that brought about the land’s destruction.  Kudzu was brought to America to control erosion, but instead it smothers the land.  It’s violence in slow motion.