“Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence.” – Minor White
The above quote by Minor White, one of my favorite landscape photographers, came to mind when post-processing this mistake of an image. When we are not still within ourselves during the process of photography, mistakes, or other unintended outcomes increase in likelihood. The above print is an example of when that was salvaged by a bit of luck and experimentation. I was shooting on the Montreal River, above Superior Falls with the Harman Titan 4x5 and Kodak Portra 400. My concentration and thoughts were not on my work, and as a result, I did not read the exposure for the pinhole shot correctly, giving it one third the amount it required (30 seconds, instead of 90 seconds). By the time I became aware of this error, I had already moved the tripod and put the camera back in my pack. Obviously by then, it was too late to simply pull the dark slide and give one minute more exposure. Rather than trash a $4 piece of sheet film, I made two additional 30 second exposures at two different river vantage points, which resulted in the abstract image above. All of this could have been obviated had my thoughts been on the task at hand. I agree with Minor White in the importance of internal stillness in image making, but in photography, the task is more onerous as there are many extraneous variables to control for consciously. I have listened to a few photography podcasts lately that have introduced the notion of using a practice or warm up routine to focus the mind on the tedium of focus, film speed setting on meter, set shutter speed, set F-stop, cock shutter, etc. Even when you have only missed a week behind the camera, which was the case above, a warm-up for the routine steps can save a four dollar piece of film, or twice that if you are shooting 8x10.