Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 25

Thread: Using large format in the Badlands

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mount Horeb, WI
    Posts
    870

    Using large format in the Badlands

    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.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    8,192

    Re: Using large format in the Badlands

    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.

  3. #3
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Seattle, Wash.
    Posts
    2,562

    Re: Using large format in the Badlands

    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.

  4. #4
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Winona, Minnesota
    Posts
    4,038

    Re: Using large format in the Badlands

    About the only time the Badlands weather is tolerable to me is mid-September.

  5. #5
    Ray Van Nes
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Calgary, AB Canada
    Posts
    71

    Re: Using large format in the Badlands

    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

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Orange, CA
    Posts
    902

    Re: Using large format in the Badlands

    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.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    1,213

    Re: Using large format in the Badlands

    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...

  8. #8
    Moderator
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Posts
    6,300

    Re: Using large format in the Badlands

    Carl Weese's 12x20 work - yes, I'm in awe:

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

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mount Horeb, WI
    Posts
    870

    Re: Using large format in the Badlands

    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.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    grand rapids
    Posts
    3,835

    Re: Using large format in the Badlands

    The one time I was there, it was dead still. As for everywhere else, it's always windy!

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 73
    Last Post: 27-Nov-2014, 07:08
  2. Replies: 105
    Last Post: 5-May-2013, 09:17
  3. NM Badlands article
    By Aaron van de Sande in forum Location & Travel
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 14-Jan-2007, 20:42
  4. Bisti Badlands
    By Bruce Pottorff in forum Location & Travel
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 30-Jan-2006, 17:40

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •