For years and years I passed this billboard on the way north from Calgary on Highway #2. For decades it said “Bulls for Sale” which I thought was pretty cool. It is Alberta after all. Each time I passed it I told myself I just have to come back with a camera and make an image.
I saw this sign and it’s lowly truck in snow storms, baking hot sun and peaking through fog. Always with no camera or no time to stop. It was starting to really bug me! Then horrors of horrors they changed the darn sign! Cash Back! Who cares about Cash Back in the middle of a farm field 200 yards off the highway! Like anyone could actually read the phone number let alone the website address. I hope the Cash Back people didn’t pay to much for this prime ad placement.
Well my heart sank. I had missed my opportunity to capture the sign I had immortalized in my mind for decades. Yes I kicked myself ….. several times ….. what a putz! I got lulled into thinking no one really cared about this stupid sign and it would be there for several more decades just waiting for me to get my act together. Such hubris.
After going through all the stages of grief I finally told myself this was going to be the week. Period. The weather was late fall, cold and very windy. A buddy of mine volunteered to come out with me and act as my assistant. The winds were howling cold and blustery. I’m glad he came as I needed someone to hold things so they didn’t blow away. The camera of choice was the Hasselblad 500 C/M. To round out the kit I brought the Zeiss 80mm standard lens and the Zeiss 50mm wide angle. My choice of film was Ilford HP5+. Normally for landscapes I would have chosen Ilford FP4+ but due to the wind I felt I would be using fairly high shutter speeds to counter vibration.
I always try to get as much of the photo the way I want “in camera” rather than relying on PhotoShop for scanned negatives or lots of burning and dodging in the darkroom. With that in mind I packed my neutral graduation filter and an orange filter. Just in case I needed it I also brought a polarizer.
I generally make notes on shutter speed and f stop but it was so windy it was insanity to bring out paper and pen. I do know I used f 16 on both lenses. If I am using filters over the lens my usual way of metering is through the filters rather than messing with filter factors. Which when using ND and polarizing filters is pretty much impossible anyway.
To complicate things the horses were wandering around so I had to wait for them to at least not be showing their butts to me. My final gallery print doesn’t include the horses, they finally took off.
I hung my pack off the tripod, my buddy held two tripod legs down firmly and I the other. The cable release was plunged and as they say the rest is history. Well except I took an entire roll using different combinations of lenses and filters.
Our poor bodies were beginning to suffer from hypothermia so as frame number 12 was shot we packed up in record time and headed back to home base.
Development was made using my go to developer PyroCat-HD. 16 minutes, agitation for the first 15 seconds, 10 seconds every minute thereafter until done. Water stop and Ilford Rapid Fix to finish it off.
So the moral of the story is if you see something that is asking to be photographed, for goodness sake stop and and Nike says ” Do It”!
Comments and questions are always welcome.