Michael Nath  

Rock Art by Michael Nath

June 2020 - Rock Art

About the Image(s)

The image is another petroglyph taken with my Burke & James large format camera using Bergerr B&W film, ASA 200 12" lens at f22 and 1/4 s processed in Rodinal (1:25 dilution at N+1). The negative was scanned using an Epson Perfection 4990 photo scanner and the digital file processed in Photoshop. Levels and curves adjusted and some dodging of the petroglyphs to bring them out more. When printed, done in a style to mimic a contact print produced in a traditional darkroom.

This round’s discussion is now closed!
10 comments posted

Peter Clark   Peter Clark
Michael - another fine image of the petroglyphs with a nicely balanced composition. I feel that the tonal balance of the image requires some attention. The top in particular and the lower right to some extent are rather bright and there are some areas of near burnout. Conversely the shadow areas have areas which appear to be blocked up.

Interesting to see the whole film area including the side cut outs.   Posted: 06/06/2020 03:06:48

Ella Schreiber   Ella Schreiber
HI Michael: Living in Arizona, I've seen many petroglyphs and really appreciate their beauty. You've done a great job in composition. My eye, is drawn to the top of the image where the rocks are very light... just thinking out loud, and wonder if cropping the top a bit might focus the viewer more on the art? Having said that, I do believe you've got a strong image!   Posted: 06/07/2020 18:05:57

Ian Chantler   Ian Chantler
Hi Michael
Another intimate image of these amazing rocks and their decorations again really well composed and presented the lighter areas do not bother me too much but a few small dark areas could maybe be lifted a touch,but you can only work with the lighting conditions on the day,another important capture of social history.   Posted: 06/09/2020 08:18:10

Michael Nath   Michael Nath
Thank you very much Peter, Ella, and Ian. I really appreciate your input.

When working with film (as in this image) I tend to do very little dodging and burning when making a print as I attempt to do as much of the work as possible in camera. As this is a scan of a film negative, I use Photoshop to try and reproduce the same image digitally before printing. I agree with the lighter areas being distracting but burning them in (in my opinion) ruins the overall tonal balance.

A questions for those of you with more experience that I have. Does viewing a photograph on a monitor versus in a print produce a perceived increase in contrast in the highlights and a decrease in contrast in the shadows?   Posted: 06/09/2020 11:45:43
Peter Clark   Peter Clark
Re. contrast print vs monitor - contrast on the monitor is adjustable so it depends on your monitor settings, but in viewing in print form the lighting under which it is viewed can be a factor in the perceived contrast levels. A no win situation!   Posted: 06/09/2020 13:18:33

Ed Ries
Hello Michael. Rock art is fascinating because of its age and the implications of its artist so long ago. My art will not survive that long. I understand that it can be very difficult to capture rock art and create contrast that separates the art from the base rock. I might have tried to tone down the bright area at the top of the image and some how increased the contrast between the drawings and the base rock. I have never tried this so I really don't know what the obstacles are. Good job.   Posted: 06/09/2020 15:26:02

John Gilkerson   John Gilkerson
Michael, I am extremely impressed to see someone making good use of large format film.
I myself still use film occasionally but never above medium format!

You have chosen a difficult subject here but you have produced a super image of that subject.   Posted: 06/09/2020 17:13:41

Michael Nath   Michael Nath
Thank you Peter, Ed, and John.

Peter - Everything I submit here has been printed first and viewed under a color corrected light. I then submit the finished image (saved as a *.jpg) for everyone to comment on. Everyone has been very helpful and I am thankful for that.

Ed - The obstacles differ in the chemical darkroom from the digital darkroom. Selective bleaching of a silver print with potassium ferricyanide (Farmer's reducer) works well with a small watercolor brush. Dodging is about the only tool in an editor and has more limitations.

John - I have taught photography classes in the past and it was always fun to see a students reaction to being "under the hood" for the first time with a large format camera. It is an eye popping experience for them to actually see the change in the depth of field when shutting down a 12" lens on an 8x10 camera from f45 to f5.6 when standing in the student parking lot and actually watching cars go out of focus on the ground glass. That 15 seconds explains it all without me saying a thing. After that, the rule of reciprocity makes sense when explaining the exposure triangle when talking to someone holding a digital camera set on manual for the first time.   Posted: 06/09/2020 22:59:13

Paul Roth   Paul Roth
Michael you have certainly captured the petroglyphs very well. Perhaps using a gradient filter on the upper and lower right portions of the image might help? This would be very easy if you have lightroom. In addition you could use the shadow adjustment tool to bring out some of the detail in ths shadows.   Posted: 06/12/2020 13:00:03

Michael Nath   Michael Nath
Thank you Paul, I appreciate it.   Posted: 06/14/2020 05:37:53