As 2018 has come to a close, I have decided to take a look back at my favorite images of the year. Most of my work this past year has been making pictures of the family and of that, there is a good bit of work. But this post is not about those images but rather about my landscapes and cityscapes. All of the images that I’ve picked for this year save for one are from North Carolina. The other image is from Dallas, Texas and is the only sheet of Cinestill 800T in 4×5 that I’ve shot so far. I suppose I should really shoot the rest of that box.
In looking at the work, I’ve learned that I really do tend to prefer color but I still love to work in black and white. Also, large format photography dominates this selection, with 35mm coming up next, followed by medium format. I picked up my first medium format camera, a Minolta Autocord, in August and have definitely loved the images that it’s created. Given that I’ve only had it for the last few months of the year, I’m not surprised that it’s a bit under-represented in this selection of images.
Kodak Ektar remains my color film of choice for all color work that isn’t focused on people or where a higher speed than 100 ISO is needed. This past year has seen the end of my Fuji Natura 1600 supply as well as my Fuji Superia 1600 supply and as they have been discontinued, I no longer have any more high speed color film. Given this, I started working with Kodak Portra 800 and pushing it two stops to 3200. This is rather finicky, but when it works, the results are amazing and the Deco sign at night in this collection is indeed this 800 pushed to 3200 combination. When it comes to 400 speed film, I’m still undecided between Kodak Portra 400 and Fuji Pro 400H. I’m also developing a real fondness for Kodak Portra 160, which does make an appearance in this collection as well.
I attended the Film Photography Project’s Workshop in Findlay, Ohio this past August and had an absolute blast while learning a few new things. The smell of Ether from Joseph Brunjes’ wet plate photography demo for one, but also that a sous vide makes an excellent temperature control mechanism for C-41. Post this workshop, I bought a sous vide and also switched from the Unicolor kit to Kodak Flexicolor chemistry for C-41. That has made a major difference in my home processed color film and I hope to have that process written up in the near future and on this website.
Moving from the technical to the artistic, I believe that my images from this year represent solitude. Maybe my work all along has been about solitude, but it’s a theme that definitely comes through in this 2018 set. The quiet places that recharge us and give us much needed rest are well represented, but also, those moments of quiet among the bustle of urban environments. These are the moments that I live for and the ones that I get the most enjoyment out of capturing. Every one of these images takes me right back to the place that I was at the time of capture. Every one of those places holds a special meaning for me personally. I hope that some of that comes through these images for anyone else who may view them.
Here are my top 12 from 2018 in no particular order:
The Appalachian Mountains inspire me like few locations that I have visited. These mountains formed roughly 480 million years ago. Compare this to the 55-80 million years formation age of the Rocky Mountains and you start to get a sense for how much longer these mountains have been around. Even where the peaks are high, the movement between them is undulating and curved, suggesting a sense of tranquility that you just don’t find in a lot of places.
The first image that I’d like to share from my most recent trip this past June is one that I almost didn’t get. I had driven down to the Blue Ridge Parkway to photograph sunset and the weather was definitely all over the place. The clouds were rolling in and rain was coming. The westerly facing overlooks were clouded over with no color showing through at all and the only place where there was any sense of mystique was on the easterly facing overlooks. I made a black and white image at one of the easterly facing overlooks and then packed everything up as it started to rain. I then started to drive around to see if there was anywhere else that I may be able to make any more images that night. I stumbled upon an opening in the clouds at Deerlick Gap Overlook and could not believe my luck! I set up quickly and was able to make this image of the sunset:
To me, the moodiness of this sunset and the way the colors light up the mountains really speaks to the tranquility of these mountains.
Another one of my favorite things about this region is the sheer number and variety of waterfalls that there are to explore and photograph. I started the trip with one of the more difficult falls that I have ever tried to photograph. I still have not found a great place to capture this waterfall from and I suspect that more time is needed to explore this one and see what other vantages there are. I present an image from the waterfall on Whiteoak Creek:
Because of the difficulty that I have had in getting a larger vantage, I focused on a small section of the falls and used some front standard tilt to help emphasize the falls themselves and the almost dream like state my mind can go into while visiting waterfalls at times.
That evening, the conditions for sunset looked good again and I must say that at the Big Laurel Gap Overlook on the Parkway, I was not disapointed:
The next day and night were mostly rained out, but the following day yielded conditions worth pursuing photography again. I ended up at the Black Mountains Overlook for this evening’s outing (Sunrises in this area were around 6 am and sunset around 9pm, so I didn’t quite make any sunrises).
This image is from quite a bit before the sun actually set. I have some undeveloped color film from this trip that I think covers the rest of this event. One of the fun things about shooting film is that now I really don’t remember what’s on those sheets, so it will be interesting to develop them and recover the memories!
I find this type of landscape photography to be both exciting and calming all at the same time. Exciting in that you get to chase the light and spend your time wondering if amazing conditions are going to occur, but calming in getting to watch the beauty of these events unfold. To watch the sun go down or come up as it has done so many times before. To be out there, sometimes by yourself, soaking it all in. That’s exciting and calming. A wonderful mix.
The last full day of my trip I went out on a mission to get a shot of Linville Falls that would incorporate as much of the plunge basin and the rocky outcropping that the Linville River tumbles through as it heads into that basin. I’ve explored Linville Falls extensively, but I had always passed up the “Plunge Basin Overlook” on the way down to the Linville River to actually go explore the basin itself. After this trip, I now realize that I have been missing out on one of the more exciting overlook views of Linville Falls. Here is the image that I made:
I’m quite happy with how this one turned out and really surprised that I have passed by this overlook so many times before!
Finally, I’d like to close this post with one last image that imparts the feeling of what it’s like to travel on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I don’t remember which night of the trip I made this image, but I do remember that I was driving around looking for a particular overlook and the westerly facing overlooks weren’t working, but this easterly facing one was quite nice.
Silberra Ultima 200 is a panchromatic black and white film from Silberra in Russia. You can find more information on this film from their website at: https://silberra.com/films/silberra-ultima .
I picked up a roll of Ultima 200 and Pan 200 as rewards for backing them on their recent Indiegogo campaign and these shipped promptly. This was the only reward from the campaign that shipped promptly and all other rewards are supposedly still on the way. Such is the way with crowdfunding campaigns though.
I was excited to put this roll through my camera as I tend to really like medium speed (200 ISO) black and white film, with a special soft spot for Eastman XX (5222). When it came time to load the film in the tank though, I was shocked at how thin the film was. On the aforementioned page, they give you the actual number 0.06mm thick, but I glossed over that little detail. I had a very difficult time loading this roll and almost gave up on it. I developed it in Kodak XTol and was not disappointed at all. Even though I thought I had buckled this film in multiple places, there were no obvious issues with the developed negatives.
While I was loading that film, I was thinking about how to give away the Pan 200, but after seeing the results that I got with the Ultima 200, I think this film is well worth shooting, even as thin as it is.
Here are some of my results from an early evening of walking around Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina.
I hope you are enjoying the redesigned kabbottphoto.com as much as I have enjoyed putting it together! My goal in 2018 is to use the blog section of the site more than in past years. In this blog, I want to document any unique films that I use, development recipes that I find interesting and other unique aspects of shooting analogue photographs in 2018. Having shot only analogue since 2013, I’ve definitely got the hang of things and am looking forward to sharing my knowledge where I can.
That said, I still have a ton to learn myself and am very interested in hearing from you if you have thoughts or comments on what I have to say.
So here’s to 2018 and the newly redesigned kabbottphoto.com!