My first trip for this project outside the Hocking Hills region of Ohio had me traveling further South, just outside the city of Athens. This was not a day I'd normally be shooting. The weather forecast was calling for partly cloudy skies and < 5% chance of rain, yet Athens was the lucky recipient of a cold, blustery, rainy morning. I was faced with two options; one left me down a quarter tank a gas and no photographs, the other with a chance at something plus some water-logged gear. Not to be outdone by fate, I decided the entire 8x10 kit was due for a bath.
Riddle State Nature Preserve occupies a portion of a local park known to residents of Athens as Hawk Woods. The park winds around a ridge (do you call anything a mountain in Ohio?) that overlooks the city. The trail being surrounded by trees, shrubs, and moss made for a fun hike, even with heavy rain at times. Many parts of the trail appeared to get heavy foot traffic, but much of the natural flora were undisturbed and maintained a very settling, natural feel. This particular morning I found myself taking more small breaks on the large rock outcroppings waiting for the weather to break (no such break came).
Looking through my negatives made from that morning, I can't say there was anything I was super excited about. Overcast skies present a big challenge, flat contrast. Just about everywhere I pointed my meter there were about 2-4 stops of range (from shadows to highlights). To eek anything interesting out of this meant playing around with a combination of exposure and development to push a more natural 5 stop range out each scene. I opted for exposure as normal, with extended development, what Zone System practitioners would refer to as N+1 (in some cases N+2). To add a little bit of "pop", I used my 150mm super wide angle lens without its center filter and ignoring bellows factor, adding a nice vignette and boost to contrast.
All in all, I can sum up my rainy morning visit to Riddle SNP with this quote from the mega talented painter and photographer, Chuck Close: