Monse Wheat Field Monse Wheat Field

Photographed: Oct. 1991
Format: 4x5
Film: TRI-X
Development: N

    This wheat field, about 20 miles south of Okanogan and on the Colville Reservation, beckoned to me during a search for odd looking rocks.

    I'd dabbled for a couple years in trying to photograph with an old 4x5 Speed Graphic I purchased from a friend, Mike Irwin. I'd mentioned to Mike my love of using a similar camera in college in the late 70s to make images. I'd always wanted to give it a try again. So Mike, being one of the nicest guys I've ever met in the newspaper business, sold it to me on the cheap.

    This was one of the first pictures I developed half-way decent. I was using a dip tank where I always seemed to over agitate the film. I think that is one of the reasons I cropped the sky so close, because I'd seen how motley my clouds had been with this developing style. I now use a plastic Jobo tank with reels. I prefer the small one with a reel that takes six frames. I use a larger 12-sheet, two-reel tank when I'm in a hurry. (I know, I know, being in a hurry is a no-no, but there are times when I HAVE to see an image NOW). I use a twisting, turning side-to-side motion when agitating, the same as I use with 35 mm tanks. The process works quite well.

    I actually spotted this field a few weeks earlier traveling the back roads of the reservation with my son. I felt it would look best right at sunset. So I timed a return trip for when the sun would dip behind the Cascades. I took a few negatives just before, during and after sunset. I really liked the way the field weaved its way into and around the rocks.

    During one of my trips to photograph the field, its owner, Maurice Joy, showed up. I thought as he pulled up in his pickup "Oh, Oh, I've been caught trespassing." But Maurice appeared amused that someone would want to stand in his field to make a photograph. He turned out to be way-more knowledgeable about art and photography than I could ever hope to be. I bet he was one of the first in the region to be on the Internet, researching his favorite art subjects. He was very nice in taking me to another bunch of rocks which were akin to Stonehedge in that they formed a circle. The rocks lay in the middle of one of his fields. The heck if I can remember where they are now, but he did say I could walk out and photograph them any time I wanted. Of course, I also would need permission from the rattlesnakes that called the place home.

    On a last note, the stubble in this field is razor sharp. My son (he turned three during these trips) stumbled, cutting his hand pretty good on the stuff. The ground is extremely hard, so it makes sense anything growing in it would need to cut like a knife to reach sunlight.

Copyright © 2000 by Al Camp. All Rights Reserved.
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