Printing my own 35mm B&W film in the darkroom on…
Aries Tor. Snowy Mountains, Mt Kosciuszko National Park NSW Australia.
This image was shot in February 2020 prior to the COVID-19 isolation. It took almost two years of wait and preparation to get the image. There are many aspects that I had to consider to get the condition right to shoot this kind of image. I got to know the location called Aries Tor, a couple years ago, which is a stack of granite boulders in the middle of nowhere at Mt Kosciuszko National Park. The ‘Aries Tor’ is not an official name, just known to a small number of landscape photographers I reckon. There is no beaten track to get there either. So you have to rely on guesswork on the map if you are going there for the first time. I could not locate the place on Google map in the first place. So I did my own research to find the place on the map. Finally I found the location on the map I presumed that it could be. Then I decide to hit the road. But I can’t just go there any time of the year. It has to be between late January and late April. This is because of the Milky Way rising time and temperature drop during the night. And other conditions must be met such as, during the new moon or crescent moon, clear night sky, and not too strong wind, etc.
All I knew was the place is located on the south slope of Rams Head North which is on the western side of the Kosciuszko path walk. I thought I could find the way out. It should have taken about an hour to get there if I knew the path, but it took me more than three hours because I got lost and spent a couple hours wondering around in bushland with no path. The sun was ready to retire behind the range when I finally got there. I put up the tent and shot a few sunset images with digital promptly. The sunset was beautiful with pink clouds all over the place. But on the other hand I was worried about the film shots I planned for the night. It has to be a clear night for the success of the shots. I somehow set up two film cameras, large format field camera 4×5 and Rolleiflex 6×6, nearby the pond ready to open. I waited in the tent until dark. An hour later my heart almost sank to find fog everywhere around me when I stepped out the tent. Because the temperature dropped so quickly after sunset it became foggy on the mountains. I thought it became foggy in my head too and could not think of anything. All I could do was cursing my weather app and just waiting in the tent. Two hours later I stepped out the tent and jumped off in joy to find the crispy and clear night sky I have never seen before.
The exposure time was given for 5 hours. I planned to close the shutter at dawn about half an hour before sunrise so that I can catch the pinkish purple horizon. The camera I used was Nagaoka wooden field camera 4×5 and the lens is Nikkor SW 75mm f4.5. The film is Fujichrome Provia 100F. I do not have a fancy dark room or do not print on silver gelatin by myself either. All of my films are processed at a local photo lab and I scan them using Epson V800. And it goes through post-processing. I do photography with both digital and film. I started photography with 35mm film back in the 90s. I then turned to digital after 2008. Since 2014 I started medium format 6×6 and large format 4 x 5. The motive that I started film again is to shoot specifically star trails. I do other genres of photography but mostly landscape, especially astro-landscape photography.