1. CAMERA AND LENSES

For all my hikes, I carry a Pentax 645 medium format (MF) camera, combined with the following Pentax SMC-A lenses: 35mm f/3.5, 45mm f/2.8, 75mm f/2.8, 120mm f/4 macro and 200mm, f/4.

I use two backs (for 120 and 220 film), and a right angle finder, which can be very useful for macro and awkward angle shots. I have also replaced the standard Pentax UC-21 focussing screen for the plain matte UE-20 screen, as this is far better for focussing in almost all situations.

2. FILTRATION

My main filters are Cokin P-type, comprising 81A and 81B warming filters, Hitech or Singh Ray 0.6x and 0.9x soft edge graduated neutral density (ND) filters (2 and 3 stop respectively), and a 4x (2 stop) neutral density filter. For these, I have three Cokin P-type filter holders, one with the normal three slots, and two with the front one and two slots removed to reduce vignetting with very wide-angle lenses. I also use 77mm Hoya Super-HMC Pro1 circular polariser and skylight 1B filters, in combination with step-up rings to minimize the number of filters needed.

3. TRIPOD AND HEAD

My tripod consists of Gitzo 1327 carbon-fibre legs, with either a long or short centre post, and where necessary, snow/sand shoes for added stability on soft ground. This is complemented with an Acratech Ultimate ballhead, a fantastic ballhead for field-work. On the Pentax 645 body I use two Arca-Swiss style quick release plates from Really Right Stuff, to allow rapid switching between horizontal and vertical formats without the need to flop the tripod head over to one side.

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4. FILM

For colour images, I predominantly use Fujichrome Velvia (50 and 100). Other films I use include Fujichrome Provia 100 and Astia 100F, and Kodak Ektachrome E100VS, E100SW and E100GX. For most black and white images, colour images are scanned and then a monochrome channel mixer layer is applied in Photoshop CS. This is followed by a levels and curve adjustment, again as separate layers to yield the final black and white image.

5. PANORMAS

To produce panoramic images, I use the Pentax 645 mounted vertically on a Really Right Stuff MPR-CLII nodal point slider, in combination with a Acratech levelling base. The camera is rotated using the panoramic base of the Acratech ball head, with the rotation centered over the nodal point of the lens to reduce parallax error. If necessary, each image is pre-processed with the Panorama Tools radial luminance Photoshop plug-in to correct any vignetting. The images are then digitally stitched using Panorama Tools, with PTAssembler as the graphical user interface (GUI), and Enblend as a plug-in to complete the blending process. The panoramas are produced from up to seven medium format images. The resulting digital files - up to 1Gb or more in size - allow prints up to 3 metres (10 feet) in length to be produced, depending on the format of the image.

 

 

 

 

6. FILM SCANNING

For medium format scanning I use the 4000dpi Nikon Super Coolscan 9000ED, in combination with the FH-869G glass film holder. This holder is essential for getting edge-to-edge sharpness when scanning MF film. I scan 35mm film with the 5400dpi Minolta Scan Elite 5400. Once digitized, I optimize the images using Photoshop CS (AKA version 8). Images are sharpened using the powerful FocalBlade Photoshop plugin.

7. PRINTING

Prints up to 24 inches wide are produced in-house using Canon's iPF6100 printer. The pigment-based prints (both black and white and colour) from the iPF6100 are stunning, and when printed on archival paper, have a life span longer than traditional photographic prints.

8. COLOUR MANAGEMENT

To calibrate my monitors I use the Monaco Optix XR colourimeter. To generate ICC paper profiles for the iPF6100 printer I use the Spyder3Print spectrocolorimeter .

9. PAPER

I use a variety of archival matte and gloss papers, chosen to suit each image. This choice depends on a number factors, including aesthetic considerations of surface texture and paper weight, and how the ICC profile for each paper works with the image.

From the Epson range, Velvet Fine Art gives excellent colour saturation and deep blacks. Hahnemuehle PhotoRag (188 and 308gsm) is a beautiful paper, with stunning colours, deep rich blacks and yielding excellent detail. Three other excellent Hahnemuehle papers are the more textured Torchon, White Etching and German Etching. The surface of the Torchon is particuarly suitable for images depending more on mood than detail, such as misty scenes and seascapes.

Ilford's Galerie Gold Fibre Silk is an exqusite paper to work with. It has many special qualities, including an excellent DMax, superb sharpness, vivid colour rendition and a satisfying wieght. One of my favourite papers.

The Moab Paper Company also make some beautiful papers, such Entrada Bright (300 gsm), Kayenta Matte (205gsm) and the Lasal range. Entrada Bright in particular has a rich depth to its colours combined with deep blacks that make it a very satisfying paper to print on. Red River's Aurora Art Card also gives good results for certain types of images, particularly ones with lower contrast.

 

 

Wilhelm Imaging Research is the leading resource on information regarding print permanance. They have published an article showing that colour images printed using the iPF6100 will last for greater then 95 years without any noticeable fading when displayed under glass. Similarly, black and white prints on these papers will last for greater than 200 years. Hahnemuhle papers are produced in accordance with DIN6738 and ISO9706 specifications for archive grade paper (read their certificate here), and are gauranteed to be resistant to fading for greater than 100 years.