Photo story – Snow covered mountains and the Moon by Antonio Biagiotti
Italy – It was a February morning some years ago. Very cold but with a bright and clear sky. I knew the point I was heading for, having travelled there previously many times before in the hope of capturing that “fleeting moment”; one of those times that nature gives very sparingly and only seems willing to share with those who have been willing to wake before dawn.
Each time I had visited this place before I was turned away disappointed because the weather conditions were never like those I had pictured in my mind. Specifically, the moon was never in the position I had hoped for; that perfect location.
That February morning however, I realized immediately that the light and possibilities for composition were excellent. The moon was hung in the perfect position in the sky. To the point that if I could have placed it by my own hand, I would have put it exactly there!
I already had the lens I wanted mounted to my camera but exposure however, was a rather more complex matter, critical, in fact. Bright reflections from the snow aside, the moon’s constant movement across the sky meant I had to use a higher shutter speed in order to “freeze” it’s motion.
Not wanting to love the perfection of the scene, I read the measurement from my spot meter several times and I shot some frames at f/32, varying the shutter speed slightly from 1/30 to 1/8 of a second. All this on ISO 100 film.
Returning to my darkroom I was, as always, torn as to which development to give the film. In the end I opted for a normal development.
The 1/30 second negative was better exposed because the moon was sharper, although the shades I had hoped for were not quite sharp and bright. All my attempts to draw a satisfactory release from the negative were useless…
I sensed a great potential in this negative but I could not fully express it – I felt whipped. Thus the film remained well preserved in its parchment sleeve, kept in a drawer for longer than it deserved. I could not stop thinking about how I might extract the beauty of the image captured in that negative.
About a year ago began to develop my technical understanding of selenium toning. Naturally, I started with less important negatives and it was only when I felt confident enough that I could achieve the results I wanted, that I submitted my precious negative of that February day to the process.
The treatment I used allowed me to increase the contrast in the image and provided a clear improvement of the high values – mainly on the moon. To further increase the contrast a little, at the time of press, I leave the image immersed in selenium toner for a few seconds longer, thus intensify them even slightly low-pitched tones of the sky.
Of course, to obtain the desired print, a certain amount of masking and burn interventions are also needed.
At the time of writing, the best print I’ve made was completed on Gallery 1K 3 paper but it is important to state that the variables surrounding my interventions and the materials I use are constantly changing.
As I hope you can understand, the genesis of this photograph was very difficult and laborious, but the end result (as it is today!), fils me with satisfaction!
Hope you like it…
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