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My wife and I took two trips to the Great Smoky Mountains. The first trip was to scout out locations a few weeks prior and the second day was the shoot. Knowing the location is really important to get an idea want you want to shoot and to quickly get between locations quickly.
It worked out for us because the fall colors aren’t the only thing that peaks at GSM NPS in October and November. The number of visitors the park encounters are staggering. It is the most visited national park in the United States. A drive around the loop at Cade’s Cove can run as long as 11 hours! Getting there early wasn’t only pretty for the lighting but it gave us a head start before the crowds got crazy. By the time we left, the bumper-to-bumper traffic went on for over 3 miles
Our second stop was a small waterfall, appropriately call Little River. I really wanted to shoot slide film for this shot; however, the scene was very high contrast and going off experience, this would exceed the dynamic range of slide film. I opted to shoot Portra 160 again. I spot-metered off the rocks in the shadows and stopped the exposure down enough where I would get the motion blur I was looking for in the falls. However, there was a small problem with this shot: reciprocity.
For those unfamiliar with reciprocity, exposure to film is not linear like a digital camera. After a rated amount of time, the emulsion’s sensitivity to light slows down resulting in longer exposures for a metered exposure. For example, the waterfall shot called for a 4 second exposure at f/45. However, according to Kodak, reciprocity failure occurs after one second. Luckily, with the Reciprocity Timer app, adjusted my shutter time to 6 seconds to get the exposure I need at 4 seconds. The app didn’t let me down as it resulted in an incredibly dead on exposure.
Overall, I am really pleased with the results! I’m glad I sided with color negative to get the dynamic range that slide film lacked. These scans were 2400 DPI (almost 100 Megapixels) on my Epson V850. The detail, sharpness, and resolution I got out of this scan isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. They’ve been sent off to Michael Strickland for super high resolution scans on his Heidelberg Tango Scanner. It will be a few weeks before I get those massive scans.
Before leaving, I did grab one quick snap with my Sony a7 III; just for comparison purposes. You can compare it to the 4×5 negative scan. The 4×5 seems a bit flatter because I didn’t do much work with the contrast of the scan. The 4×5 images, for the most part, are straight off the scan.
I want to give a big shout out to Dunwoody Photo for the awesome job developing this film for me! Finding labs to process 4×5 film are hard to come by and I’m incredibly grateful they’re local to me. They are literally the last wet lab located in Atlanta.
Host and Executive Producer for Studio C-41