Cooper Creek Trout Stocking Point

After an early morning hike along the Appalachian Trail I decided to follow Highway 60 up past Suches, GA to find a fishing spot I had heard about. Cooper Creek is stocked with trout and is a favorite spot for campers at the Cooper Creek WMA campground. The river runs along Hwy 60 so no need to go into the campground area to see it. When I arrived the sun was bright and low in the sky still which gave very bright highlights on the water, so I waited a few minutes to see if it would lessen as the sun rose more. Fortunately some clouds formed as well and the angle of the sun gave just enough bling to the water to make it interesting. I metered in several places and saw there was only about a 4 stop difference from dark to light so picked a middle reading for my exposure. I probably should have double checked the mountain laurel over hang as it was a bit darker once processed. The negative is a little flatter then most that I am used to so I did bump the contrast a tad. I also ended up dodging a bit of the bushes at the top of the image so their detail stands out.  It is not a great composition but I think with varying conditions of light and time of day this spot holds some potential to capture some moving water images. I will certainly go back there to fish. I may even try printing on warm tone paper and let it go a bit more old looking.

Technical Notes: Jan 15 2017 4×5 FP4+ EI80, 180MM, f22, 1/8 sec, EV 9.2-13.3 avg 11.8.  Developed in Pyrocat HD 1.5:1:157 for 20mins minimal agitation.

UPDATE: Click to see this image in warm tones.

Fallen Tree at Preacher Rock

I had visited Preacher Rock on a previous excursion and tried to make some interesting images but yet failed due to haze and glare so common in the Blue Ridge moutains. So I returned early one morning to try again. It was a bit cold at sunrise but the morning unfolded to a nice 50-ish degrees and inspired me to hike a little further than I had planned and explore the area more.

This tree was the only image I made that day as nothing caught my eye and the same haze had formed in the valley.  I had shot this tree on the trip before but the holder I used apparently had no film in it. The fallen tree marks the turn in the trail for the last quarter mile steep up hill trail to the granite out crop on the ridge which overlooks the Blood Mountain area. I like the trees bent shape and the angle of the landscape that shows how steep the terrain really is. The rocks behind the tree sit like sentinels overlooking the valley below. You can even see another tree that has been bent by the boulders as it grew around them. Photographically I was concerned about the shadows on the tree since the sun was to my back. However it really gives a greater feeling of depth to the whole image.

Beyond Preacher Rock the trail meanders slightly downhill along the ridge line. I walked about 2 miles out so knew I had to climb back up the ridge trail to get back. The trail is narrow but has a couple of interesting camping areas and rock out crops to explore. Park at Woody Gap on Highway 60 East of Suches, GA. Take the Norther trail into the Blood Mountain area. Its an easy hike except for that short push to the ridge.

Technical Notes: Jan 15, 2017, 4×5 FP4+ EI 80, 135mm, f22, 1/4 second, EV 8-13 avg 10.7 on Zone 5. Pyrocat HD 1.5:1:157 for 20 minutes with minimal agitation.

First time Pyrocat HD

I had a couple of shots to develop from a hike in January. A nice fallen tree near Preacher Rock on the Appalachian Trail near Suches, Georgia, and a spot along the Cooper river near Suches as well. I decided it was time to see what all the fuss is about Pyro negatives and FP4. My traditional developer is HC-110 and it is very predictable for development times regardless of dilution.

Pyrocat HD on the other hand seems to have a wide variety of users with differing dilutions, times, agitation methods, and films. So I consulted an expert via a post in Facebook large format group, Steve Sherman. Steve recommended 1.5 : 1 :175 for 25 mins as a starting point for normal development agitating at 1/3 time points (semi stand). After more research I learned that development time is a factor of not only temperature but also agitation methods used and desired contrast. Normal dilution is 1:1:100 by the inventor, Sandy King, but he likes to use rotary agitation and has much shorter development times. However, he also has recommendations for increasing times for other methods. So what to do? I hate film testing and just decided to guesstimate and see what happens.

I knew I had rated Ilford FP4 at 80 vs box speed of 125 so would need to reduce time a bit. This is habit and yields a better negative with HC-110 for me. I had used an average meter reading dark and light spots so felt I was well within the  film latitude so no time adjustment needed. If I were doing a single sheet I may have added time for the River shot to boost contrast.

My 4×5 tank needs 475ml to cover the film but 500 overflows it so I would use slightly less dilution than Steve’s recommendation and would have to adjust time downward again. Less dilution = more activity of the developer.

Indoor temp was about 70 degrees so I aimed for that and figured a little less time.

So with all the input I came up with roughly 4.5ml A+3ml B+470ml Water = 477.5ml (1.5:1:157) @ 20Mins with 4 minute agitation intervals(30 seconds of tank inversions at 4,8,12,and 16 minutes). I also estimated I could have used 1:1:100@12mins with 1 minute agitations for normal contrast.

Overall procedure: Pre-soak 5 mins. Pyrocat HD as described above. Plain water Stop bath for about a minute. TF4 Fixer from Photographers Formulary (mix 1:3) for 4mins. 20 minute wash with fill and dump every minute, with last minute using photo-flow in the rinse. Hang it up to dry.

First Impressions: The negatives are lively but a little thinner than I am used to with HC-110. I can see so much more shadow detail on  the river shots but it was fairly low contrast to begin with. The tree shot is well within the latitude of the film. The stain is a nice golden brown color even in the dark areas of the film. No obvious scratches or problems from the tank or agitation method. In the future I will likely make 2 of each shot where feasible so I can learn how to adjust the final product without too much formal film testing.

First Prints: Contact prints showed the images were very printable and had about the contrast that I expected. The images enlarged easily but were short exposure times as I expected. See Fallen Tree at Preacher Rock and Cooper Creek images.