View Full Version : Gear and film recommendations for Grand Canyon area? (Longish post)
I'll be spending a week in Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon, Lake Powell at the end of this month. This will be my first time shooting in desert/canyon landscapes, and there won't be another opportunity anytime soon. So, I'm a little nervous about the outfit and film to bring along.
Contax IIa, uncoated Sonnar 5cm/f2, coated Jupiter 13.5/4
Sears KS-2 (aka Ricoh XR-7), Pentax SMC 28/2.8
Zeca Goldi 3x4
Compact digicam for snapshots
Plus a 6x9 folder to be named later
The Contax is to be my main camera, but I don't own a wide, nor do I trust my metering skills and equipment for situations such as Antelope Canyon. Hence the Sears which has an electronic shutter that goes up to 16 seconds. It'll also serve as meter for the others.
The Goldi is going to be loaded with Efke 100 because nothing else is available in 127. This covers my b&w needs. I would prefer to shoot slide film in the Contax and Sears -- ideally the same, for ease of metering and scanning/presenting them mixed. (Yeah, I know, three very different lenses. Won't be a very unified look.)
The 6x9 will probably spend the entire trip set to infinity and stopped down. I want to shoot some 6x9 slides just for the heck of it, and for the looks you get when you explain that a 60 year old camera takes 100 MP shots :-)
Ideas? Glaring omissions? I'm contemplating taking a 28-80 zoom for the Sears instead but I'd have to find one first, and it might be too darn tempting to just shoot everything with the SLR then. Or should I look for a 24mm lens? I understand a 28 barely captures the view at Horseshoe Bend.
Film is my main concern. In addition to the landscapes, I'm hoping for a lot of portrait opportunities with my (fair-skinned) fellow travelers. I'm generally more comfortable with 100 or 200 speed. (I don't anticipate any action shots and low light will be handled by the Sears on a tripod.) I haven't shot chrome since the nineties, though. I preferred Fujichrome back then, whichever the consumer flavor was at the time, but have no idea which current emulsion comes close to that. Besides, that was all in very different lighting and landscape situations, and through a Color-Skopar.
I was literally about to take the plunge and go Kodachrome, which I've never shot before, when their decision was announced and prices went through the roof. I think I'm going to generously leave the remaining stock to those who know it better :-)
All other things being equal, I would go for the more economical film, but then all other things are never equal, are they? It's a special trip and a half dozen 36 exp. rolls is not going to break the budget either way.
Thanks for your patience!
I'm not that familiar with the Goldi. Don't know how easy to use it is. But if that's your only B&W horse, I think you should reconsider. Your destinations will be colorful, but they also have gorgeous clouds and (on a good day, of which there are many) clear skies. Clouds and skies will look great in B&W, especially with some filters (red and yellow-green).
As far as ultra-wide lenses, I say yes. Bring them. But don't worry about trying to capture the definitive Horseshoe Bend photo. Much depends on luck and timing. When you see something interesting, shoot it. I find that macro or medium telephoto shots from a place like the Grand Canyon add considerable interest to a photo presentation. Wide angle perspective starts to look all the same after awhile (to the photographer, and to the viewer).
Enjoy your trip. Oh yeah, try a variety of film speeds. Take some Velvia. Whatever you like. But definitely, don't scrimp on the B&W.
Thanks, Dan, but well, I don't even have filters for the Goldi and they're not the easiest to find. Slip-on, 26mm I believe.
That's a very compact German 3x4 format folder from the 30s, by the way, with a simple shutter and triplet lens. Will serve me fine. I'm a color guy at heart. I'll shoot b&w when there's nothing else left but while I can still get a roll of C-41 developed 1-hour for $2.30, that's where I'll be. Give them a reason to keep that minilab going, I say.
Slides this time because I'll also want to show them right after the trip. Rolls mailed to Dwayne's from on the road, unless someone has a better recommendation.
take a smallish tripod for landscapes.
I've spent just over a week in the Canyon rafting down the Colorado River. We started just west of Page AZ and it was the best vacation I've ever taken. From a lens perspective I think you need a 21 or 24/25, as the little canyons and caves demand it. If you can't manage it absolutely take the 28. You might want to take the 28 anyway as you're going to want to see your portraits in the magnificent context. The colors aren't just red and ochre, they are all over the place including black rock. I'm not an expert on color films but you need film that can handle a wide spectrum.
One week for all those sites is insane, with all respect. Yes, I realize it's not flexible, but given how rushed you will be, I'd pare back to one camera/format and de-complicate things.
When in Zion, I can never manage to move on. I like it best of all.
Haze can be a significant problem, leading to greatly reduced contrast and bluish images; go for contrasty films in colour, and use orange or even red filters in B+W.
My most successful colour pics from the Grand Canyon were details, not big landscapes, because I was shooting mostly 6x7 colour with an RB67.
I suggest films not more as 100asa, a tripod and polarisation filter!
As far as lenses, I would take primarily wide and long focal lengths
This would be a great trip to shoot up the last of your kodachrome. Equipment-wise, some good wide angle lenses and a telephoto in the 135mm range, a tripod, a remote cable release and a real good alarm clock... so you can get up early enough in the morning to grab those sunrise shots.
Comment on the lack of filters for the 127 format camera - Blu-Tack!
You can simply stick a cheap larger filter to the lens for a short time. Red or orange filter highly recommended for desert skies and sand. Don't forget to compensate for exposure.
I think at least a yellow filter would be the minimum for the B&W. Possibly orange. Just hold or tape a bigger one to the front if necessary. Make an adapter from a toilet paper tube. Anything. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. I really like Tri-X, but FP4 is a good film too. Definitely get some Fuji Acros as well. Unique B&W tones.
I almost never shoot color so when I do I go w/ the standard Fuji Superia or Fuji Fujicolor 160 S. If you are going w/ slide film (always bring color negative w/ you just in case) I recently shot some Fuji Velvia w/ a 4x5. Wow. Others can give you better recommendations. If you haven't bought your 6x9 yet I would HIGHLY recommend a Bessa I or II w/ Skopar or Color Heliar lens. Mine are the only 6x9 cameras I've owned that are sharp from corner to corner. This is the standard problem w/ this format. The Bessa II w/ Color Heliar is expensive, but the camera would be an investment and one that would return fantastic photos. Easier to get those group shots too w/ it's coupled rangefinder.
Bessa L with 15mm Heliar.
Thanks for all the suggestions. Some clarifications -- I guess the OP was too long:
I'll bring a tripod and hoods -- the latter being a new habit for me. Haven't been shooting much with big, exposed glass in the past. Back to the sun and shading with my hand in a pinch always did it.
Efke 100 is the only easily available option in 127. (I might roll my own from 46mm Portra 160 once I have a good stock of saved backing and spools, but not for this trip.)
Thanks for insisting on a filter, any filter, for b&w. I'll stick something on, or hand-hold probably (not sure about Blu-Tac in 110 F heat...)
I have a pre-war Bessa (uncoated Skopar) but it doesn't unfold straight, as seems to be common with these. Maybe I'll have time to move the shutter/lens into a Nettar body. Else it's a very pedestrian Nettar for 6x9.
So, the biggie: Which (135) film? Criteria: Must be chrome. Neutral skin but not blah on the landscapes. 100 ASA.
I used to shoot slide film exclusively, metering with the aging selenium cell on a Vito CL, for years. Never blew an exposure except by stupidity. So I'm not worried about slide versus print latitude.
I'm leaning towards Provia 100F but I'll admit I'm biased against Kodak. Thanks for any pointers.
Listen to Earl (Truis).
You're gonna need a bigger camera. And the 6x9 folder. Tons of Kodachrome if you take a little camera.
Chromes: Koda as mentioned. Astia for natural. Velvia 50 for WOW! The desert SW was made for Velvia 50 as proven by legions of LF folks.
Yeah, I was kind of thinking filters would be a good idea....
I'll second Roger re: shooting details at Grand Canyon. It's, umm, big.
If you've not been to the Southwest before, be prepared for a much more intense sun than you get in New England. Pack or buy shady hats and sunscreen.
If you are flying and then driving, Sedona and Flagstaff are near the canyon. The Oak Creek canyon drive between Sedona and Flagstaff is entertaining.
I lived in the desert for seven years, near Las Vegas, while I was in the Air Force. A friend, who worked in the photography unit, said that they stopped down a bit from the meter readings, on account of the bright desert sun and the strong reflections from the desert itself. That said, I, with no great history of skills at the age of 19/20, snapped away quite successfully simply by trusting my Weston Master (I forget which; master III, maybe?) with no corrections. I was shooting Kodachrome II (ASA 25)and Kodachrome-X (ASA 64). The color balance of those films, especially Kodachrome-X, was very right for the colors of the desert.
Much more recently, my desert photography (Arches National PArk; Canyonlands: Zion; Grand Canyon) has been on Velvia, with no regrets. The color balance is cooler, but it works. There is, though, a warm balance Ektachrome. Thus far I have shot only one roll, but I liked it. You might shoot a roll or two around home to see how you like it. A pre-trip tune-up is a thing I really believe in!
I didn't have any problems with UV haze in the desert, even when I was not using a filter. However, I concur it is a good idea! I started using them as soon as I had any.
At the Grand Canyon I shot from the rim, not hiking into it. I used 6 x 6 gear for many shots, and 35mm for some. I expect your photos will benefit from using your 127 outfit. Bigger is better, in some cases. Have fun, and good luck with the photos!
At the Grand Canyon I shot from the rim, not hiking into it.
I'd suggest that you hike down, at least part of the way. It gives you a different perspective than shooting just from the rim. Early morning is a good time to hike down and come back before it gets too hot. Do that right after you'd finished taking sunrise pictures from the rim.
But just in case it gets hot when you are ready to return, bring more water than you think you'll need. Once you are down from the rim, there will be no water until you get to the bottom (or hike back up in hot weather). Of course, you should wear the proper hiking boots. The trail can be rough.
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