Larch Valley in Portra Film

September 29, 2012

Last weekend when I hiked up Larch Valley Trail with my wife, Ljubica Todorovic, and my good friend, Shane Fage, I hauled my 4×5 film equipment with me in addition to my usual DSLR.  The Wista 45SP, lenses, holders, and tripod brought all my gear to 40 pounds.  It was possible and we managed to reach the end of the 2km, 800m ascension hike in time to catch the last of the morning sunlight.

There was hazy light due to a forest fire in the valley.  To my eyes the light was casted as a strong, red colour, but film captures haze conditions differently.  Instead of recording the red light as I saw it the photographs turned out blue due to the strong UV light.  I was using a UV filter but it appears to have not been strong enough.

The film equipment was worth hauling, however.  My DSLR just couldn’t capture the tonality I was seeing while up there yet it was rendered well on film.  The sky was blown out as a single tone in digital but film caught the subtle gradation from blue to white.  The bright larch needles also had tonality using film compared to the blown out, bright rendering the DSLR captured.  None of my DSLR images turned out.

I highly recommend this hike during the period when the larch trees are changing colour.  We arrived at 8am and we probably should have arrived even earlier.  The good light was disappearing when we arrived at the end and it was so busy with tourists that by 10am people were being turned away by the RCMP.  This is definitely a hike that benefits from rising very early in the morning.

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