Ranchland San Luis Obispo

by Morley Baer_

Morley Baer made this photograph with an old wooden 8 x 10 field camera and a Goerz Artar 480mm/19" lens. The Artars are apochromatic lenses and are a favorite among many of the 8 x 10 landscape photographers. They are very sharp and yet produce a smoothness across the tonal scale unmatched by other lenses. Using a long lens— 1.6 times the normal length of 300mm/12"—shortened the distance between the rocks on the lower right and the peak in the distance. The front was tilted forward because the subject plane moved away from the camera in a horizontal direction.

The front-tilt adjustment helped align the focal plane with the receding subject plane. It is actually possible, especially with these longer lenses, to watch the subject plane come into sharp focus on the groundglass while using the front-tilt adjustment.

The exposure was made on Kodak tungsten-balanced Ektachrome film. This film is intended for use indoors but it can be corrected for a daylight exposure by using a #85B filter on the lens. This approach is favored by some photographers because the result is a warmer image than that produced by the daylight-balanced Ektachrome films. The softer contrast was created by giving the transparency one stop of overexposure and a less-than-normal development at the color lab. Rather than going for the deeply saturated color frequently favored by color photographers, Baer chose to obtain a softer, warmer interpretation more in keeping with his feelings about the California landscape.

© Morley Baer

The exposure was worked out with Polaroid Type 52 film and electronic-flash equipment. When the basic exposure was determined for one "pop" of the strobe, the aperture was closed down from //22 to //32, and two "pop"s were done, one with the girl in place and one without her. The foot of the person leaving the scene on the right belonged to my assistant. She had to hold very still for both exposures. After several practice exposures were made with the Polaroid film, I opened up one-and-a-half stops and used daylight-balanced Kodak Ektachrome 200 film to make the photograph used on the cover of the magazine.

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