Long Cold Night in Catskill

On a very cold weekend in early March 2016, I decided to take a ride to Catskill in upstate New York. My goal was to train myself on night photography with film. I parked at the Ashokan Promenade just before the bridge. I scouted the location before on a previous weekend and I knew where I was going. I reached there an hour and half before sunset.

It's very beautiful spot, certainly Catskill doesn't get its fame for nothing. It's truly a very beautiful area. I walked on the bridge and saw the scene below. Sun was setting already, water was so still and you can see there's some frozen water and ice on rocks. I setup my Mamiya RZ67, loaded it with Kodak Portra 400, and took this shot.

Sunset at Catskill. Mamiya RZ67, 65mm at f/22 1/60 sec. Kodak Portra 400

Just couple of steps to the left and I took another shot. Very quite cloudless sky, very cold air and still water at the southern tip of the Ashokan Reservoir.

Sunset at Catskill. Mamiya RZ67, 65mm at f/22 1 sec. Kodak Portra 400

Sunset at Catskill. Mamiya RZ67, 65mm at f/22 1 sec. Kodak Portra 400

And couldn't resist taking one more. I liked the symmetry between the sky and water. The mountains reflecting like a mirror.

Reflections at Catskill. Mamiya RZ67, 65mm at f/22 1 sec. Kodak Portra 400

Reflections at Catskill. Mamiya RZ67, 65mm at f/22 1 sec. Kodak Portra 400

After that I took couple of another shots, slightly different compositions. Then I had only one shot left in my roll, I saved it for the main event. I started taking couple of shots using my DSLR. I waited till moonset and with the help of the shots that I took with my DSLR and couple of reciprocity graphs for the Kodak Portra 400, I setup my Mamiya on f/8 and T and clicked the shutter release cable. Very quietly I rested the shutter release cable on the tripod, I head back to my car, it was freezing, I couldn't feel my fingers. I decided to take a nap and setup my alarm after 2 hours.

Two hours later I woke up, decided to go ahead and check the camera. It was still there (which is good, yayy) but according to my calculations I had one more hour at least to go, so I headed back to my car again and took a nap again. One hour and 10 minutes later I woke up, walk up to the camera, check the stop watch that I had running to calculate the shutter speed. I released the shutter after 3 hours and 13 minutes to have the following shot.

Stars above Ashokan Reservoir at Catskill, NY. Mamiya RZ67, 65mm at f/8 3 HR & 13 Min. Kodak Portra 400

Stars above Ashokan Reservoir at Catskill, NY. Mamiya RZ67, 65mm at f/8 3 HR & 13 Min. Kodak Portra 400

I spent the rest of the night shooting with my DSLR till sunrise, that's when I switched to Velvia 50 and took couple of shots for the sunrise, but that's for another post.

Surprisingly this shot turned out to be successful one. It certainly could have used more exposure, but I don't think that I could get any details in the mountains. There's definitely lots of grain in this one, I didn't enlarge it yet but I printed it with my Epson printer and it turned out pretty. As a first attempt for night/star film photography, I'd say that this one is a success.