Behind the Lens

Behind the Lens gives you an inside look at the 5 newest shots from Big Tree Images.  A series of 5 images will be released every Friday and accompanied by all the spicy details!  Location, camera, settings, and processing will all be highlighted to give you a better chance to step behind the lens!

OMG! Becky, look at her lens, it is soooooo big!

Well, if nothing else, trying to release new images every week has given me a much greater appreciation of where I spend my time!  Almost every week has featured a shot from the Alvord Desert, Palouse, and Tahoe.  This week is much of the same, enjoy!

Camera: Mamiya 645 ProTL     L: Sekor C 80mm     F: Ilford PanF 50     S: f/22 @ 1/15

Far too often, film shots turn out to look like a simple digital image which is a testament to the quality of glass on this Mamiya and how painstaking the development and processing can be.  This shot gives you that much desired grain and soul of film!  The Alvord "lake" is a thin layer of water that ebbs and flows based on local precip and amount of overnight moisture.  Don't sleep too close, you may wake in a bit of a pickle as the lake is known to expand overnight!

C: Mamiya 645 ProTL     L: Sekor C 45mm     F: Fuji Acros 100     S: f/11 @ 1/2

I always try to capture an image that I facetiously believe hasn't been captured before.  This one has been shot time and time again and I just don't care....  Get off my lawn....  Abiqua Falls takes a bit of astute navigation to find and the short trail down would be better suited for the Oregon Rock Bowling League but it's all worth it!  

C: Yashica Mat 124G     L: fixed 80mm     F: Kodak Portra 400     S: f/5.6 @ 1/30

Oh color film, how I both love and loath you!  Some shots turn into a pastel mix of soft tones and some shots turn into a harsh reality that it's Monday and you don't now where your car is...  Luckily, this one brought a light touch!

C: Mamiya 645 ProTL     L: Sekor C 80mm w/ r25 filter    F: Ilford PanF 50     S: f/22 @ 30 seconds

I don't really know why, but I like this one if only for the dashed dividing strip and sky that somehow moves with a long exposed negative.  What I didn't love about getting this was the local farmer that took exception to "his road" being jammed with "lookie-loos" and his exclamation to GTFOHL (get the f off his land).  

C: Mamiya 645 ProTL     L: Sekor C 150mm     F: Fuji Acros 100     S: f/8 @ 1/125

Panoramas are a bitch, there's no two ways about it.  This shot was actually taken from Steptoe Butte in the Palouse using a long lens and is 5 images stitched together.  Sometimes they line up, sometimes you left a small margin of error and your common sense between 2 images and it just doesn't work.  I think there is something mesmerizingly beautiful about wind farms!

It's hot out there!

The past few weeks have seen some temperatures ranging from 90 to ridiculous in the Northwest.  That's all the more reason to catch what mother nature has to offer during the time when it offers its best.  Get out early or stay out late!  These 5 shots come to you from the edge of the Palouse in Cheney, heart of the Palouse in somewhere I likely couldn't find again, Sparks Lake near Bend, near the Northwestern most point in the lower 48 on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, and the spot of a likely and timely tire change in the Alvord Desert of Southeastern Oregon.  

Camera: Mamiya 645 ProTL     L: Sekor C 150mm     F: Ilford PanF 50     S: f/4 @ 1/250

I have too many pictures of my dogs and I just don't care.  This shot was taken at the Turnbull Wildlife Refuge near Cheney, WA on a very cold and very windy day in February.  The deer were baiting the dogs into inquisitive poses and for that I thank them!  One of my favorite outcomes of the longer 150 lens is its ability to compress the background of an image and with shorter depth of field, Timber really stands out.  

C: Mamiya 645 ProTL     L: Sekor C 80mm w/r25 filter   F: Ilford PanF 50     S: f/22 @ 1/15

The Palouse begs you to wander and for a landscape so catastrophically formed, symmetry reigns!  This shot is a lesson in never just giving up on an image because it wasn't what you thought would appear on film.  It's a bit harsh, and carries a near metallic feel but the play between the left and right fields is, well if nothing else, interesting...

C: Mamiya 645 ProTL     L: Sekor C 45mm w/ ND 10 Stop filter   F: Velvia 50     S: f/22 @ 4 minutes

At first glance, all appears normal...  But is that water too calm for its own good?  Blame the ND filter.  Letting in 10 stops less light allows for ripples and almost any other movement in the water to be absorbed into a sharp reflection.  Plus it's just awesome when you open a shutter and know you have 4ish minutes where the only task is chilling.

C: Mamiya 645 ProTL     L: Sekor C 45mm     F: Ilford PanF 50     S: f/22 @ 1/8

The sun was pretty much gone, I was exhausted from driving, and this angle was only accessible from slippery rocks with jagged edges but it was just too interesting!  How may storms have those lonely little trees seen and survived?    

C: Mamiya 645 ProTL     L: Sekor C 45mm     F: Ilford PanF 50     S: f/11 @ 1/125

Those that have seen the Alvord Desert in person know how ridiculous and out of place this thing is...  Go home tire, you're drunk.  Just days before this tire was covered in an inch or two of water that spread miles upon miles of the playa floor and I was just lucky enough to stumble upon it headed for home.  Granted, I need to circle back after slowing from a speed of 110 but I found it again!  


Fridays are for Film

Landscape style shots rule this week at Big Tree!  Each of the 5 let powerful skies play with distinct scenes from across the Pacific Northwest and even a guest appearance by it's southern neighbor.  Take a look below and travel around Bend, Tahoe, North Idaho, The Palouse, and Arlington with your eye brain.  Time to head towards the Alvord Desert and see me some of them shootin stars!  

Camera: Mamiya 645 ProTL     Lens: Sekor C 80mm     Film: Fuji Acros 100     Settings: f/22 @ 1/4

Sparks Lake near Bend, Oregon is one of those oft visited areas that I tend to steer clear of.  I instantly realized my folly when confronted with its overwhelming beauty and omnipresent drama.  This shot was captured in the wee hours of a new day that brought very little light into play.  Something about this early mornings always brings a fun sense of contrast between the aged snags and their more vibrant and healthy neighbors.

C: Yashica Mat 124G     L: 80mm fixed     F: Kodak Ektar 100     S: f/8 @1/15

Another first time visit to a place known far and wide for its abundance of woot!  The east shore of Tahoe gives a world of character with rocks that seem to somehow breathe and a glass like appearance of this massive lake.  We came to ski but temperatures in the high 60's on the slopes had us running to water instead!

C: Mamiya 645 ProTL     L: Sekor C 80mm     F: Ilford PanF 50     S: f/22 @ 1/8

Have you been to the Palouse?  You should go, and don't go with a destination in mind.  Go with a sense that the smaller, dustier, and more beat up the road you're on, the better.  One thing I love about shooting landscape photography is finding symmetry in a planet that thrives on chaos.  

C: Sony a6000     L: Sony kit 70-200     S: f/4 @ 1/1000

TImber, that is all.

C: Mamiya 645 ProTL     L: Sekor C 45mm w/r25 filter   F: Ilford PanF 50     S: f/22 @ 1/2

I don't know where I was, and I may never drive this road again, but the size and scope of these wind farms was awe inspiring.  To add a touch of motion to the blades, I chose a slightly slower shutter and even the barely discernible blur let's you know sense the power being harnessed.  

Time Flies When...

Time flies when you least want it to.  Family, food, Fourth festivities, they all make for a quicker clock.  This weeks Behind the Lens is the first with all film shots because that's the best way for me to slow down!    

Camera: Mamiya 645 ProTL     Lens: Sekor C 45mm     Film: Fuji Acros 100     Settings: f/11 @ 1/8

One of the hardest and in turn most rewarding facets of photos is seeking out the not so obvious image in a very obvious place.  Abiqua Falls captures your mind's eye and draws you to its giant columnar basalt sandwiching rushing water from both sides.  Here, a different look of rocks polished through years of tumbling down to this spot and a slight reflection of the falls pulls your eye down from the easily evident.  There's a whole world down there!

C: Yashica Mat 124G w/ 80mm fixed lens     F: Kodak Ektar 100     S: f/8 @ 1/125

This dog just never seems to care how cold the water may be, it's always just right...  The water level of Lake Pend O'rielle in Northern Idaho is lowered nearly 10 feet to accommodate a heavy Spring runoff from Western Montana.  This exposes car sized boulders where only water once ruled.  Dog hair just don't care how cold it is, it's time to swim!   

C: Yashica Mat 124 G w/ 80mm fixed lens     F: Ilford HP5 400     S: f/2.8 @ 1/15

This little Yashica has a way of surprising you with every shutter click.  The simplicity of a one lens system turns my pre flight wanderings around PDX into a game of composure because 80mm is all you get!  HP5 400 was a film just fast enough to allow for the low light of a red-eye boarding process. 

C: Yahsica Mat 124G w/ 80mm fixed lens     F: Kodak Portra 400     S: f/4 @ 1/15

A third and final shot this week using the TLR Yashica from the shores of Lake Tahoe.  Not even a flat tire, 1 hour into my future, could ruin this view and Portra film presented this scene with a pastel feel.  I'll be back for you, Tahoe!

C: Mamiya 645 ProTL     L: Sekor C 45mm     F: Fuji Acros 100     S: f/2.8 @ 1/30

Oregon can bring you a mix of all the weathers in just one day, and this day did not fall short.  Wahtum Lake was one of my first Oregon outdoor experiences and even though it abounds with views, I find it most beautiful when the fog rolls.  A very impatient JP gives scale to his monstrous surroundings.  

Number Two

The second installment of Behind the Lens features a mix of shots from recent trips.  The Olympic Peninsula, Palouse, Alvord Desert, North Idaho and North Central Oregon all make an appearance.  Check it out!

P.S. all of these shots can be custom printed and shipped straight to your home!  If you like these or any other shot from our Image Library, send us a message and lets make it yours!

Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro TL     Lens:  Sekor C 80mm w/ r25 Filter     Film: Fuji Acros 100     Settings: f22 @ 1/4

This shot comes straight from an extremely cold morning on the Washington Coast half way up (or down) the Olympic Peninsula.  Sunrise can always be interesting when you're looking west and that hot planet had just started to illuminate waves in the background, giving them a bright tone.  Motion can be seen everywhere other than the main subject of weathered driftwood and the shore.  A red filter provides added contrast.  Some images are great to view for a second but this image begs you to search with your eyes!

C: Mamiya 645 Pro TL     L:  Sekor C 45mm w/ ND 10 Stop Filter     F: Fuji Acros 100     S: f22 @ 4 minutes

The Palouse area of Washington may be "nothing more" than rolling hills but something about it forces your wheels to turn down ever increasingly small roads until finding the lost you're looking for.  In the 4 minutes this shot was exposed, the skies gave rain, sun, sleet, and hail which left only a shivering human barrier to protect the lens.

C: Sony a6000     L:  Rokinon 12mm     S: f11 @ 1/125

I don't know what Sally's expression conveys but I know she's a happy soul here!  Trestle Peak is a short jaunt off the 120 trail and one of my favorite childhood spots.  Just glad my K-9 daughter agrees!  Fun fact - using a wide angle lens from close distance can give the face a skinnier appearance, not that anyone ever worried about how they look in a shot...  Ever...

C: Mamiya 645 Pro TL     L:  Sekor C 45mm F: Fuji Acros 100     S: f2.8 @ 8 minutes

I know black and white, long exposure star trails are all the rage on the Insta-medias these days so you've probably seen this shot before...  ;)  Captured in the wind farms of Boardman, OR and a surprising amount of planning was required.  That and coffee...  I tend to avoid long exposures at night when a full moon is present but you never know what happens until you done did do it.  The moons position to the far right, and low in the sky, illuminates the right side of the turbine yet still allows the feeling of darkness to own the left.  These are the shots I can never wait to develop once home!

C: Mamiya 645 Pro TL     L: Sekor C 150mm     F: PanF 50  S: f8 @ 1/250

Photo dog!  I don't know if she's inquisitive or just wondering if that thing dispenses kibble.  Either way, Danny McCarty and Timber have formed quite the bond over a few years.  The feeling of compression between the Steens Mountains in the background and my two subjects is the fun part of using longer lenses like a 150.  PanF also provides a nice tone on a day that had raging winds driving sand high in the sky!  

Bro, do you even blog?

It's the first Big Tree Blog!  Every Friday, you'll find 5 new images here.  Each will include a detailed description from the eyes behind the lens and some random bits of dry humor/Caddyshack references.  Comment, share, swear if you like...  Welcome and here goes nothing!  


Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro TL     Lens: Sekor C 45mm w/ ND 10 Stop Filter     Film: Fuji Acros 100 Film developed in XTol 1:1     Settings: f2.8 @ 30 Seconds  

The first image of the first Big Tree Blog has quickly ascended the ranks to favorite status.  Wahtum Lake, OR seems to grant travelers sight after sight and something about Wahtum on a foggy day puts down what I like to pick up!  This image was frozen in time using a Mamiya 645 Pro TL - medium format film camera with a wide (45mm) lens and an ND 10 stop filter.  An ND filter will block out enough light to force your hand into long exposures that give a chance for motion to show its face in elements of wind and water.  This particular day brought fog so thick that Wahtum and the squeeze from the ridges surrounding it seemed to melt into the void of clouds.


C: Mamiya 645 Pro TL     L: Sekor C 80mm     F: Ilford PanF 50 developed in HC-110 dilution B S: f11 @ 1/125

Our second image comes straight from the Southeastern corner of Oregon, smack dab in the middle of the Alvord Desert.  Close friends had spoken of it yet I resisted the call for over a year and was somehow still surprised with its beauty.  The Alvord is so vast that miles upon miles of playa floor can be covered (at increasingly reckless speed) without the need of one degree in adjustment to your steering wheel.  This fact made chasing giant clouds exhilarating as they rolled through and provided even more contrast to the play between light playa and dark mountains.      

C: Sony a6000     L: Sony 70-200 Kit (yes, kit lenses aren't terrible...)     S: f/11 @ 1/250

Timber my Timber!  The Idaho Panhandle seems to come alive when Spring rolls around.  Disappearing snow levels and freshly blooming flowers make taking in the views from Trestle Creek enjoyable for those with 4 legs or 2.  Forthcoming storms typically provide a dramatic sky and high winds accompany the calm.  A faster shutter speed was required to maintain detail in the electric(ish) green grass and hints of budding purple sneak their way around.

C: Mamiya 645 Pro TL     L: Sekor C 45mm w/ ND 10 Stop Filter     F: Fuji Acros 100 developed in XTol 1:1     S: f22 @ 4 minutes

Another shot this week that was better with motion!  The sky appears to slide across the space between South Sister and Broken Top near Bend, OR.  The ND filter also allowed calm to build even when a light wind rippled through the water.  All hail ND!  

C: Mamiya 645 Pro TL     L: Sekor C 150mm     F: Fuji Acros 100 developed in XTol 1:1     S: f16 @ 1/30

This fifth and final installment of the first blog comes from Abiqua Falls near Portland, OR.  Large stacks of columnar basalt, constantly dusted with water from the falls, gave immense contrast against the rushing white of water.  Symmetry and blocky shapes can be hard to find in such a natural setting but as we all know from the first Jurassic Park, "life, uh, finds a way".  Setting the shutter at 1/30th of a second allowed water to fall down the frame and swirl around the waiting pool.