Erin series
Water Lilies
Curio Shop

Reflecting Curio Shop Window

Passing from one "illuminated" area to another in downtown Mansfield, through an alley in which I almost made the mistake of assuming nothing there would be nothing of interest, this pleasing window appeared on my left. It was early afternoon, and the southerly sun shone in on a wall behind me as I faced the window, creating an almost startling reflection of both a brick wall and an old fire escape. The moment would never be better; if the sun had been more to the east or west, the reflection on the wall would fill less of the upper window pane.

Setting up directly in front of the window posed a problem. Not only would the camera be reflected, a very disturbing window frame near the top of the fire escape would intrude on the image. Using lens shift, I was able to position the tripod a bit to the left of center, recomposing to eliminate both distractions. Using my (old) faithful 210 mm lens, I was still backed up literally against a wall but, with a bit of lens rise, everything fell in reasonably well.

I could have metered the scene with my incident meter, taking the low reading just about anywhere, but the high would have required a long walk out into the sun and, even then, I wasn't sure I'd get a representative reading. Instead, I chose to spot meter the scene, changed my default settings in ExpoDev to "zone", placed the reflecting wall on zone VII and a textured shadow value in the window on III. The program calculated an SBR of 7.6, which seemed reasonable. On 400 TMax film, I exposed 1/4 second at f 22 5/6 as ExpoDev suggested. Development was to an an average gradient of .51.

In retrospect, I should have placed the illuminated wall on Zone VIII, which would have produced an SBR nearer 6 stops. This placement would have increased the negative's contrast and produced a print, without manipulation, closer to my visualization, which was of a "glistening" reflection.

Instead, a contrast adjustment is necessary when printing. Intended to print on Kodak FA paper, "grade 2", this print is made at about grade 2 1/2. Even now, I think it is a bit flat and might benefit from further contrast adjustment. Another metering option would have been to "hyrbrid" meter the scene, using the incident meter for the low value and the spot meter for the high.

Hoping to do one or both, I returned to the scene recently, only to find that the objects inside the curio shop had been rearranged and that the sun no longer cast the pleasing reflection. Maybe "Same Time Next Year?"






2003 Bill Waldron