Effigy In Durham Cathedral

Whenever I feel a little overwhelmed by a subject, I put my camera and tripod down and just walk around until I can get a feel for what I am seeing and experiencing. After an hour or so spent contemplating Durham Cathedral in England, 1 began to focus my thoughts on this area of the interior. The strong vertical lines of the columns, the pattern on the near column, the position and the pose of statue on the monument, the light coming through the window, and the darkness in the recessed spaces all attracted my attention.

After locating my spot, I set up my tripod and 4x5 monorail camera and selected a 180mm lens. I tried this on the camera, but it included too much of the scene, so I narrowed my angle of view by trying a 240mm. This lens included all of the important elements and excluded the extraneous ones, so it was the one I used to make this photograph. My first camera adjustment was raising the front. This allowed me to include the top of the window in the frame and exclude some people seated in the pews.

The 240mm lens, the 4 x 5 format proportions, and the camera position worked to give me just enough room top to bottom to include everything I wanted in the frame. However, I still had some empty space to the left of the left column, and it wasn't doing anything for my composition. I couldn't move closer because I would have lost either the top of the window area or the bottom of the monument. Consequently, I used the back-swing adjustment to enlarge the left column until it filled the left side of the frame.

As a result of the back swing, the right and left edges of the frame went badly out of focus. I corrected this by swinging the front of the camera about 14 degrees to the right. (My camera has degree marks for swings and tilts, but it is generally possible to see the image come into better focus across the groundglass so the markings are not essential to performing these adjustments.) The imaginary lines extending from the subject plane, the film plane, and the lensboard now all met at a single point to the right and slightly behind the camera position. Using the swing adjustments, I was able to take advantage of the Scheimpfiug Rule. I still chose to use an aperture of f/22V2 to make sure the window area and the stonework on the wall were included within the depth-of-field area.

I metered several areas of the scene very carefully. The front of the monument registered a 5, the sunlit window and portion of the left column registered a 10, the lower areas of the columns registered a 5, the upper areas of the columns were a 4, and the recessed area above the window registered a 4. This six-stop range (Zones III to IX) called for an N - W2 exposure and development to bring the high values down to Zone WW2 where they would show the detail and texture I wanted in the final print.

With my film and film developer combination an N - IV2 development requires an additional two-thirds stop of exposure, so my film speed was lowered from 125 to 80. As a result of these manipulations, my exposure time was 90 sec. (my meter indicated 15 sec., but the correction for reciprocity failure necessitated an additional 75 seconds for Kodak Tri-X sheet film).

Printing the negative involved several manipulations. The front of the monument was dodged for 50 percent of the basic exposure, the line of sun on the left column was burned 100 percent (twice the initial exposure), the window recession was burned 100 percent (twice the initial exposure), the upper central area was burned 100 percent, and there was some burning along all four edges. Some of this burning resulted from a failure to shorten the development, which would have controlled the contrast increase that occurs when film is exposed for longer than one second.

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