One of my goals for 2019 is to create a zine about the Juniper Prairie Wilderness area of the Ocala National Forest. My friend Alex and I have spent the last two years working on a much larger project about this area, but I wanted to create something a little more tangible and short-term that could ultimately become a small section of the larger project.
In conjunction with this zine, I’m creating a blog series called Contact Sheets, where I post the entire contact sheet for each roll of film I shoot for this project. I spent yesterday developing and scanning three rolls from a Juniper Prairie Wilderness trip I took on December 30, so what better day to publish the first post than January 1?
So without further ado, this Contact Sheets post features rolls one, two and three, all taken with the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II and shot on Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to 1600.
Roll 001 - Mamiya RZ67
Roll one was photographed on three separate days. The first frame was taken two weeks ago as Alex and I were driving home from a Juniper Prairie Wilderness trip. Frames two and three were taken in my living room to test out my newly acquired 50mm lens. The rest of the roll was used during my last Juniper Prairie Wilderness trip two days ago.
Roll 01, frame 01 - I took the image of this tire during my last trip to the Juniper Prairie Wilderness on December 16. Alex and I were driving home when we saw this tire just standing on its own on the side of the road. We thought it was a curious thing, so we pulled over and grabbed a shot. It will not make it into the zine, but I liked it and wanted to write about it anyway.
Roll 01, frame 05 - I won’t be able to articulate this the way it exists in my mind, but I’m really drawn toward trees that are standing alone beneath a canopy of other different trees. It’s not uncommon in Pat’s Island to find completely different variety of trees living together, such as this lone palm tree. This palm tree is probably around 20 feet tall, yet it looks miniature standing in the canopy of these long leaf pines. I like the exaggerated sense of scale it creates.
Roll 01, frame 07 - I scouted this location about three months ago during my first trip to the woods with my RZ67. Again, I love this little cluster of oaks standing amidst all the pine trees. I didn’t photograph it at the time, because I had a specific image in my mind, and I knew I needed to come back on a foggy morning in order to create the image I was visualizing. I visited this spot about six times over the last three months before the conditions were right to make the image you see below.
The next image is not part of this same roll, but I wanted to post it here, because it’s a good example of how the weather conditions can drastically affect the end result. This is the exact same location as the image above, but photographed about a month ago on a clear morning. You can see how the fog really helps to create that moody atmosphere and sense of depth I was visualizing the first time I scouted this location.
Roll 01, frame 09 - I’ve photographed the following oak tree too many times to count. I’ve shot it in color, I’ve shot it in black and white. I’ve shot it from several different angles, I’ve shot it with multiple different cameras. But since this particular morning was so unusually foggy, I wanted to take a couple more pictures to ensure I capture this tree exactly how I envisioned the first time I saw it.
Roll 002 - Mamiya RZ67
Roll two didn’t produce any keepers. I continued wandering around the Yearling Trail area visiting familiar places, trying to take advantage of the fog. But by this point, both the fog and my energy were burning off.
Between frames four and five, I decided to head back to my car, eat some food, drink some coffee and prepare for the next part of my plan, which was to test out my new 50mm lens at the Capitol. I hadn’t been to the Capitol in at least six months, so I was looking forward to it. I used this opportunity to explore a new trail that leads south to the Capitol from Forest Road 46.
Above: A rare selfie of me at the Capitol. I’m trying to make an effort to do a better job documenting the in between moments. The Ricoh GRII is the perfect camera for this purpose. It’s the only camera, other than the Mamiya, of course, that has accompanied me to the woods over the last several months.
Below: The Mamiya RZ67 Pro II and 50mm f/4.5 ULD with #25 red filter locked and loaded with some Kodak Tri-X 400. While this camera was engineered to live in the studio, there’s something beautiful about seeing it out in the wilderness.
Roll 003 - Mamiya RZ67
I spent the first six frames of roll three on the Capitol. Since I was testing out my new 50mm lens, and since the clouds were changing pretty drastically, it was a good opportunity to take a little rest and snap some shots whenever the composition changed.
Roll 03, frame 05 - The image below was my favorite of the bunch. I definitely don’t think it’s a keeper for the zine (I plan to photograph this same location under different conditions), but I liked the shape of the clouds and how the sun came out to illuminate the trees and the saw grass in the foreground.
Roll 03, frame 08 - This next image is of a pine tree I call Medusa. I realize it’s not a fantastic image, but I love the dome canopy of this tree and figured I’d shoot it while I was there.
The last photo of this post is of some craggy oak scrub near the Capitol. I’ve seen this area a thousand times before, but never really thought to photograph it. There’s something about lugging a giant 6x7 medium format camera into the woods that encourages inspiration.
I used my 110mm to compress the image a little more and put on my #25 red filter to create some more contrast in the clouds.
Roll 03, frame 09 - Here’s the final image. I’ll probably go back to this location in the future to try and capture some birds or something in the frame. That extra little element would go a long way.
This was a photo-heavy day. I think the combination of the ground work I’ve put in over the last several months and the perfect weather conditions this past trip helped me to finally create some images I have been visualizing for a while.