Vivaldi’s Pond

It’s Sunday morning.  Any Sunday morning.  I look outside my window.  The weather is cold and miserable.  It’s windy and it’s snowing.  It’s overcast and humid.  It’s rainy and drizzly.  And I know what that means.  No matter what the weather, I have to go to that spot and photograph again.

I don’t care if it’s -20°F or the rain is cascading from the sky.  This photo project has to work.  And I can’t let bad weather affect what I’m doing.

Thus begins my project for 2015… Vivaldi’s PondWell, it actually started in 2014, in case anyone really wants to nitpick…

For the longest time, I’ve wanted a location where I can photograph the same scene in the same spot for an entire year, in order to capture the change of seasons.  I looked at several locations – a bridge near the Corning Preserve; a spot off I-787 that overlooks a small river; a location on the Black Bridge that spans between Green Island and Van Schaick Island…

But nothing matched up the way I wanted.  The resulting image was bland.  There wasn’t a solid location where I could set up my camera exactly in the same spot.  But I kept looking, never wanting to give up … and after much testing and confirming and experimentation… I eventually found a prime location.

I returned to the little hamlet of South Corinth, where there’s a small pond at the intersection of Chapman Street and Miner Road, just a stone’s throw away from an old general store.  The pond has everything nature could ask for – blue skies, sparkling water, warm green trees, nobody disturbing me…

And, as an added bonus, the pond also has a concrete ledge on its shore.  And after taking several test shots along that location, I found a spot that would work every time.  All I needed to do was line up the camera to the edge of the concrete embankment, check the shutter speed and the aperture… and tell nature to say cheese.

And from that moment… at least one weekend every month, I drove up to South Corinth.  My photographic weapon of choice?  The Kodak Medalist II.  The Medalist’s powerful rangefinder capabilities will allow me to truly capture some tack-sharp images throughout this project.  I stockpiled enough Kodak Ektar film to make this work.  Ektar had the most flexibility for me, and I needed to use the same film throughout the entire project.

It’s October 2014.  And as the fall foliage fell, I placed the Medalist in the proper spot on the concrete ledge for its first exposures.  Thus begins the lessons learned from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

"Kodak Red," my 1940's-era Medalist II camera, at the ready.
“Kodak Red,” my 1940’s-era Medalist II camera, at the ready.

In that book, I learned the benefits of analytical thinking and algorithmic prep work to achieve success with this project.  Since the Medalist II only takes film on 620 rolls, I must re-roll 120 film onto the smaller, thinner spool each night prior to shooting.  I had to make sure that McGreevy Pro Lab, my film developer of choice, returned my 620 spools so I could recycle them for new shooting film.

And most of all, I had to make sure that all my exposures were properly calibrated – everything from f/stops to ISO to shutter speed.  Thankfully, I have an app on my BlackBerry that can calculate all this information – wow, I never thought I would say the words “There’s an app for that” in my lifetime, and certainly not on my BlackBerry.

And once every picture has been developed and is exposed to my satisfaction, I digitally scanned the entire strip of film at 3000 dpi, making sure to capture the film’s frame numbers in case I needed to re-scan or re-touch anything.  And once I had all the pictures scanned, I looked for commonality points in the photos – angles in tree branches, for example – to line up the pictures.  Follow my formula.  If treebranch A in Photo 1 is at x 5000 / Y 2000, and treebranch A in Photo 2 is at x5020 / Y 2060, then I had to use my software to realign the photo so that both treebranches lined up synchronously.

Okay.  Four decent images – fall, winter, spring, summer.  And although I did take some pictures at night, and some others in the rain, I eschewed the idea of incorporating any rain or darkness photographs, at least for this project.  Maybe for another time.

Now what do I do with all these images?

Simple.  I’m going to take the best portions of each image, and I’m going to combine them so that you can see the waters and the leaves and the greenery and the snow in the picture…

And the image you see depends entirely on where you stand to see it.

Or, in case you haven’t figured out….

Chuck went lenticular again. 🙂  Let me explain.

In 2014 I tried creating lenticular prints with “magic motion” technology.  I had three pictures last year that actually benefited from the technology – Fagbug and Vaudeville, Relighting L-Ken’s and Come to Hoffman’s Playland.  Those worked.  As did my shot from earlier this year, Paradox or Pair O’ Dux, which is scheduled for a lenticular print job.  But as much as I was able to achieve in those photos… this Vivaldi’s Pond photo may top them all.  I can only hope.

So depending on where you stand when you view this picture, you will see the little pond with the ambers of autumn, with the crisp blue-whites of winter…

And if you’re wondering where I came up with this name Vivaldi’s Pond for this art project…  I mean, there’s really no “official” Lake Vivaldi or Vivaldi Stream or Vivaldi Brook or Vivaldi Creek or Vivaldi body-of-water in the Adirondacks…

Now I have to send the digital file off to my lenticular print shop, SnapilyPro.  And I cross my fingers.  Because my digital file is on a journey – from Green Island to New York City, then to a processing facility somewhere in Tel Aviv, and then back to New York City, and then the finished product arrives at my doorstep in the Town and Village.

This is the moment of truth.  Did a year’s worth of work turn into something beautiful?  Is this creation truly ribbon-worthy?

Vivaldi’s Pond. Kodak Medalist II camera, Kodak Ektar film, four images combined in cinemagraph. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Now once this picture is printed, the photo will change seasons depending on where you stare at the image.  That’s right, it’s going to be another lenticular print.  Which would explain the name Vivaldi’s Pond.  Right?

So what do you think?  Competition-worthy?