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Jim Becia
25-Mar-2015, 12:23
I just returned from a week in the Badlands using an Ebony 8x10 and Chamonix 5x8. And when I say "using" I really should say I attempted to use large format. Not sure if my experience is due to the time of the year I was there, or if my experience in normal. The wind never stopped. Not only did it not stop, is was 20 to 30 mph at most times. Fortunately I was able to find a few "protected" areas for some attempts. I would set up most mornings and evenings for a composition (usually with the 8x10), and on everyone except one, I gave up due to the incessant wind. I did attempt to use the Chamonix 5x8 on a few shots where the wind was blowing. It seemed to me that the Chamonix could handle the wind a little bit better than the Ebony 8x10, but then again, the Chamonix was a bit smaller, but did seem quite rigid. I won't know if in fact the film is any good for another week to ten days as the film was just sent to my lab.

This time of year, you pretty much have the Badlands to yourself which is nice. It is very dry there as they are way behind on moisture. In my talks with the Park Service, late April is when the grasses start to green up. That would make for some interesting contrasts in the landscape. I would think fall would be nice also depending on where in the park one chooses to photograph. I personally found the western side (from the Contata Road and west) of the park more to my liking. However, it is all interesting. Skies can dominate here. In Utah (red rock country) I can find all sorts of intimate images to photograph, in the Badlands, it was a struggle. For the most part, the rock/soil is a gray with a few bands of red thrown in. Now mind you, I can only relay my experiences, but finding the smaller scenes was difficult for me. This is going to sound rather crazy, but most of the 8x10 film I used was in a little wash that had some amazing ice patterns that would form over night. I hate to tell you how many sheets I burned, suffice to say it was plenty. Finding ice patterns in the Badlands was an unexpected surprise as water is a rare commodity there.

I suppose I have to wait for my film to come back to decide of the trip was a success, although it was fun, the wind can drive you to "drink." Yesterday on the way home, the wind was so strong out of the east, that I could hardly keep my car at 60 mph on an 80 mph interstate. So, if anyone wants to use large format in the Badlands, plan on having to fight the wind. That, or maybe decide to use a DSLR or other smaller format camera. Then again, maybe I just hit the motherlode of windy days. It would be interesting to hear other experiences of those who have photographed in the Badlands.

Randy Moe
25-Mar-2015, 12:55
I barely remember the Badlands from childhood vacations. But I recall it's appropriately named and fairly miserable most of the time.

Perhaps shoot from inside the car out a leeside window, a van sliding side door might work.

When you told us where you were camping and when, I wondered, Why?

My father always chose cold and windy places for camping.

I suggest Copper Harbor in Spring.:)

Heroique
25-Mar-2015, 13:07
Steady high winds on the high northern plains?

Say it isn't so! ;^)

The Badlands have to be my favorite type of landscape to wander into, but one of my least favorite to try to photograph with LF gear. I can't exactly explain why (it has little to do with the wind), for normally the two pursuits go hand-in-hand with me. I've visited several times for overnight stays in the backcountry, and as I think back on these visits, I begin to understand the challenges you faced finding smaller (intimate) scenes. To be sure, my images from the area always seem to incline toward "far," not "near-far" or even "middle-far."

I'm happy you finally found success with the ice patterns in the little washes, and look forward to seeing your images – they just might provide incentive for me to return to this magical landscape and continue working with my Tachi 4x5, not my Nikon N90s.

Jac@stafford.net
25-Mar-2015, 13:12
About the only time the Badlands weather is tolerable to me is mid-September.

Ray Van Nes
25-Mar-2015, 13:12
Welcome to my world. I live in Calgary near the mountains and wind is always an issue. A couple of weeks ago was thinking of hiking in the foothills but there was a wind warning up to 110 kph ( 70mph). We went off to our own badlands. One area was too wet - bentonite is a killer when wet so ended near Drumheller to a little spot that was dry enough. Decided to work with my small press camera as it is quite rigid but still had to hang the pack on the tripod to keep if from blowing over. I am fortunate as I live quite close to some very diverse landscapes within an hour to an hour and a half drive. Badlands, foothills and of course the mountains. Our badlands are generally located in a river valley so you often can hunker down out of the wind.

Sometimes one can go out in the winter if it is mild - the bentonite is frozen which good. For those who are not familiar with this material , beware. Glare ice is like pavement by comparison. When dry, it is great - lots of traction.
Cheers

Eric Leppanen
25-Mar-2015, 13:48
I remember shooting some years ago in the colorful badlands of the John Day Fossil Beds NM is eastern Oregon (Painted Hills). A storm had just passed through and the wind was howling, I had to not only use my car as a windbreak but get low to the ground in front of one of the wheels (otherwise the wind would blast through the underside of the car). Like you I was using an Ebony 8x10 and had to use every trick in the book (using long postal service rubber bands to connect the top of the front and rear standards together to dampen vibration, placing a beanbag on the shutter, etc.) to try to stabilize the camera. Fortunately there eventually came enough of an eddy in the wind that allowed me to get off a few shots. If you can somehow manage the conditions the winds can really be your friend. So many grand landscape shots are compromised by atmospheric haze, but the wind had blown all of that away, the air was crystal clear and clouds were dramatic, and the recent rains really brought out the colors in the badlands formations. I'm looking at a 40 inch wide print of that shot on my office wall as we speak.

djdister
25-Mar-2015, 14:01
I would imagine that the best way to determine good enough shooting conditions would be some combination of time of year, time of day, and weather - no small feat to calculate optimum conditions.

When I was in north-central North Dakota in May a couple years ago, there were a few times the wind was so strong I couldn't shoot, even with a Hasselblad. Then of course one time a sudden gust came up and knocked me and my Hassy (on tripod) to the ground. My knee was beat up, but it was no big deal to the Hasselblad...

Oren Grad
25-Mar-2015, 14:04
Carl Weese's 12x20 work - yes, I'm in awe:

http://www.carlweese.com/badlandsthumbs.html

Jim Becia
25-Mar-2015, 14:39
One thing I realized when shooting was that black and white would certainly seem to be very effective there. One thing I noticed in my metering was that the shadows were still fairly bright. I will see if my film agrees with my assessment the few times I was able to get a shot off.

One thing I forgot to mention was the weather on one particular morning. My wife and I woke up two hours before sunrise to make it out to a particular area. It had been a clear night with plenty of stars, but I decided to take the trip anyway. On the way out I mentioned (as it got a little lighter) that it appeared to be either hazy or it looked like some ground fog was developing. As we approached the destination, I looked up over a ridge and here was a massive wall of fog/clouds pouring over and down the ridges. So for the next two hours I tried to photograph the Badlands in the fog. I stayed below the rim and never attempted to get up on the plateau to see what it looked like. I figured to stay in one area and not try to chase it. Between the damp fog and the wind, it was one chilly morning. It will be interesting if in fact, anything looks half way decent on the film. It certainly looked good to my naked eye, but then again, every shot I have ever taken has looked good to my naked eye and we know where most of those end up - in the circular file. If I ever get a chance, I would like to see the area when the grasses have greened up.

vinny
25-Mar-2015, 14:57
The one time I was there, it was dead still. As for everywhere else, it's always windy!

tgtaylor
25-Mar-2015, 15:23
I keep a "golf" umbrella in the trunk specifically for those windy occasions. Last year I shot a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the point of an exposed promontory overlooking Marshall's Beach in a Gale - literally. The wind was gusting so strong (40+_mph) that I was afraid to remove a hand from grasping the tripod fearing that a gust would come along and blow the camera (8x10 Toyo) and tripod into the ocean a hundred feet below. With the umbrella open and facing the ocean (wind), the negative came out sharp without a trace of vibration. I was using 100 speed film so the shutter speed from my notes was 1/25 second at f32 with a 610mm apo Nikkor. I printed it as a salt print below:

http://spiritsofsilver.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/Golden_Gate_Bridge.6795119_large.3

Thomas

Jim Becia
25-Mar-2015, 15:33
Thomas,

I have a nice carbon fiber umbrella, unfortunately, I left it home on this trip. I normally always have it with me. That being said, I could also use an extra hand when using the umbrella.

tgtaylor
25-Mar-2015, 15:45
Definitely a challenge when you're by yourself. I struggled to keep the umbrella from being blown out of my hand and off the camera but blocking the wind from hitting it and the other grasping the tripod with the cable release waiting for the nadir of the wins speed which never reached zero.

Thomas

Eric Leppanen
25-Mar-2015, 16:09
I donated a large umbrella to the wind gods while shooting solo one morning at Death Valley a few years ago. I tried holding it in one hand while operating the shutter release in the other. A huge wind gust ripped it out of my hand while I was distracted operating the camera, and last I saw it disappeared among the hoodoos a quarter mile away.

Umbrellas work great in a lot of conditions, but in high winds it's safest to have a helper/assistant holding it.

Harley Goldman
26-Mar-2015, 14:49
Jim, it sounds like quite the challenging trip. Another trip or two like that and you will be shooting digital. :)

Jac@stafford.net
26-Mar-2015, 15:37
I donated a large umbrella to the wind gods while shooting solo one morning at Death Valley a few years ago. I tried holding it in one hand while operating the shutter release in the other. A huge wind gust ripped it out of my hand while I was distracted operating the camera, and last I saw it disappeared among the hoodoos a quarter mile away.

My sympathies!

The only time I defeated wind was when I had a custom GMC Suburban 4x4 with a raised roof. I shot with the camera (tiny thing: Hasselblad with 500mm lens) inside the vehicle shooting with the rear door open. Can't afford that kind of shelter today. :)

lfpf
26-Mar-2015, 15:41
Well done windy/chilly/foggy/stormy LF and BF shooters. Fair-weather shooters only shoot fair-weather views and document just another pretty day. Your do-it perseverance will show in your stormy results.

Drew Wiley
26-Mar-2015, 16:09
Spring is windy lots of places. This is the first year in memory that it hasn't been terribly windy here. Not windy at all. But then this is the driest warmest Spring on record so far. Then it just gets windier in summer. My place is typically around fifty degree in June, as the fog blows across SF Bay. One learns how to deal with it. But I don't like being out in the desert of in the Great Basin when the wind is active. Gets dust into my gear. In past I have gotten successful 8x10 shots -
I mean damn sharp ones - where I had to lay down on the ground and use my entire body as ballast to keep the entire camera and its big Ries tripod for literally
becoming a kite. I once did this with a frozen lake surface. A steady hard wind will work. But it's the gusts or changes in pressure that spoil the shot. Thomas understands. There is a particular color shot I've been trying to bag out in that area (not of the Bridge) where I keep getting 8x10 negs just enough vibrated to
ruin them for the 30x40 print I'm contemplating. Gets expensive too. But at least the camera didn't get blown off the cliff.

Kirk Gittings
26-Mar-2015, 19:16
I keep a "golf" umbrella in the trunk specifically for those windy occasions. Last year I shot a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the point of an exposed promontory overlooking Marshall's Beach in a Gale - literally. The wind was gusting so strong (40+_mph) that I was afraid to remove a hand from grasping the tripod fearing that a gust would come along and blow the camera (8x10 Toyo) and tripod into the ocean a hundred feet below. With the umbrella open and facing the ocean (wind), the negative came out sharp without a trace of vibration. I was using 100 speed film so the shutter speed from my notes was 1/25 second at f32 with a 610mm apo Nikkor. I printed it as a salt print below:
Thomas

I use a 22" Lightdisk (silver/black) for 4x5 for the same purpose (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?atclk=Size_30%22&ci=1327&N=4062040412+4294951245+4294955367) and have shot in some very stiff winds with success up to 1 sec. Wind does not bother me at all if its at angle I can block it without getting the wind break in the picture. 22-24" is easy to hold just away from the camera and tripod. I keep it in my backpack always as it folds up small and is light. For 8x10 one might need a larger one which would be harder to control.

Heroique
26-Mar-2015, 21:17
The Badlands we're discussing are, of course, in South Dakota, but one should also consider the Badlands of North Dakota – namely, Theodore Roosevelt NP.

The picturesque Little Missouri River winds through these forgotten Badlands, where the Rough Rider was (or pretended to be) a cowboy in his early years.

In autumn, the cottonwoods lining this river become a dazzling yellow ribbon winding along its path.

Heroique
26-Mar-2015, 21:19
In my talks with the Park Service, late April is when the grasses start to green up.

Here I am, hiking on a very windy day through the luxuriant, green grasses of spring.

131443

I was on my way down there to pitch my tent between the hillocks to get out of the wind.

And in the shade of those trees for relief from the sun!

lenser
26-Mar-2015, 21:40
This idea obviously will not prevent wind acting directly on the camera, but you guys got me thinking about a solution to anchoring the tripod....at least on soil. I'm going to buy one of those big metal pins that screw into the ground about 8 to ten inches to serve as an anchor point for long dog leashes. They have a squared off top to the rig, so using a small ratchet strap system would work well if I can just create the proper anchor loop on the underside of the tripod for it to hook onto. Using the ratchet to cinch the tripod down taught to the anchor should provide as solid a base as possible for whatever camera in being used.

Jim Becia
27-Mar-2015, 04:53
Jim, it sounds like quite the challenging trip. Another trip or two like that and you will be shooting digital. :)

Harley,

I am not ready to throw in the towel yet!

fishbulb
27-Mar-2015, 10:02
An article on the Badlands just got posted to Luminous Landscape, written by LFphotography.info's founder Q.T. Luong:

https://luminous-landscape.com/badlands-national-park-a-quick-guide-to-photography/

Jim Becia
27-Mar-2015, 17:46
An article on the Badlands just got posted to Luminous Landscape, written by LFphotography.info's founder Q.T. Luong:

https://luminous-landscape.com/badlands-national-park-a-quick-guide-to-photography/

Some nice info here. I would enjoy seeing the Badlands in all its green finery. I took a few images in some of the same general areas, but nothing that had green. The yellow hills area was nice.