Details of the Appalachian Trail – Rocks and Roots.
The ability for roots of trees to take hold in rock crevices has always amazed me. This particular pair of trees did so with tremendous style, creating a nearly abstract artwork within the rock cliff. The colors of the tree roots is almost the same as the rock wall so I had to work a bit more than usual with film choice, developing, and even printing.
I captured the image with a 65mm lens fairly close to the rock wall to enhance the depth of the roots. The small plants at the bottom were as important as the rest of the composition while the sky above is intentionally blown out. The textures of moss and the dark crevices have a depth on the print not really evident on the screen. My scan of the print is picking up the warm tone of the paper which might lead me to toning this image at a future printing.
Technical: 4×5 Chamonix 04N2, Delta 100, Pyrocat HD N+, Ilford MGFB WarmTone in LPD 1:3.
Details of the Appalachian Trail – Staircase on Blood Mountain. I should call this the Devil’s staircase because it took the wind out of me and several other hikers to get up it. It is only about a 50 foot rise in elevation but is merely the first in a series of steep inclines and switchbacks. The stairs continue up and to the right of the large rock. The air is different at this spot , a little cooler and windier. The light tends to shift as wind blowing the trees above and to the left (mid morning sun) changes the canopy filtration. Most of the trail is sheltered until you get nearer the summit. The 8 second exposure (4sec metered + 1stop reciprocity) shows a good bit of movement in the smaller vegetation which adds to the spooky atmosphere of this spot. The negative is also very dense compared to others I shot that day so likely overexposed due to changing light or miscalculated reciprocity.
Technical: FP4@100 8seconds, PyroHD, Normal dev 27:30 minimal agitation, printed on Ilford MGFB Warmtone paper. It is a good candidate for toning to get closer to the real tones of the rocks.
I re-visited the Byron Reese trail again today with the intent to re-shoot the tunnel and creek near the parking lot. We have had several days of rain so I knew the creek would be flowing well. It was flowing so well that I had to work my way around the far side over the tunnel to get to the location I wanted and even that was in water. I then decided to walk the trail a bit and look for some shots I missed previously. When I arrived at the AT intersection I went a bit further toward Blood Mountain. I made it about 1.75 miles but my legs were already burning and I was moving slow up the never ending ascending stairs. I also was running out of time since a storm appeared to be moving in. The temperature on the mountain was a comfortable mid 60’s with a breeze, but humidity was high. At one point I was even in the clouds.
Coming back down the mountain I stopped and photographed a series of rock steps between two trees. I think this was about the steepest point I had climbed. I had also made mental notes on the way up about a twisted tree with roots exposed that I knew I would capture on the way back. And finally there is a stream that crosses the pathway near the starting point. It was over flowing the rock steps by a good inch so its upstream was broader than usual, so I stopped and captured it. The rhododendrons were blooming too but I did not really find a good composition. Overall it was a worthwhile hike, but I need to build up my climbing legs a bit more to make it to the summit. I will return again in the fall.
Pictures to follow soon.
Details of the Appalachian Trail – Mushrooms in fallen tree.
In a previous post I mentioned shooting with a fellow LF’er at the Byron Reese trail on the AT. This was also my first outing with the Chamonix 4×5 04N2 camera. We had barely begun to walk the trail from the parking lot when I noticed this mushroom growing in a fallen tree. Bryan went to photograph a tiny stream and I walked back to try to capture this log and mushroom. I moved a piece of the broken tree that was blockng the left mushrooms but left it in the image.
It took me a few minutes to setup the camera and compose the image, as I was not used to a fresnel ground glass. I was only a couple of feet away from the tree and very low to the ground. I knew I wanted to to blur the background a bit so I only stopped down to f8 hoping I had enough depth of field in the foreground as the texture in the shadows and log was as important as the mushrooms. The area around the mushroom metered 3.7EV to 6.7EV so I placed an area that metered EV 5 on zone 5 and let the rest of the tones fall naturally. The meter called for 2 seconds at f8 so I had to add 1 second for reciprocity. I also chose to expand the contrast a bit in development. This is a contact print at grade 2 with no dodging or burning or computer manipulation. The scan is a bit darker than the actual image in the shadows. I am pleased with the results except that I may crop it square to reduce the upper area.
Update: I revisited this site a few weeks later. The left mushrooms had fallen off and the mushroom on the right had grown so large it no longer created a good composition.
Technical: Chamonix 04N2, 135mm Schneider lens, Ilford FP4 4×5, f8 @ 3 seconds. Developed in Pyrocat HD 3:2:500 for 32.5 minutes using minimal agitation. Contact print on Ilford MGFB classic using grade 2 filter.
Another visit to the Appalachian Trail (AT) in North Georgia. This time I met up with fellow photographer Bryan Garris at the Byron Reese trail near the Wasil-yi store on Hwy 19. The first .7 miles of this trail is a steep switchback wide path with lots of steps. At the point where the Byron Reese trail meets the AT, instead of continuing on to Blood Mountain, we then turned East toward Neel’s Gap and walked about another mile gently down hill. We stopped often to capture some interesting trees and rocks. The hike back was less difficult but still very tiring. At the parking lot there is a nice small waterfall and tunnel that goes under the road.
Shooting with someone was very different for me. We were carrying similar cameras and lenses, we often saw the same subject matter, and at times both of us shot the same subject but not from the same tripod holes. Bryan’s approach is to take lots of photos from different angles or using different lenses, while I rarely shoot more than one image of a subject (something I need to improve on). We talked about photography, developers, style, toners, films, formats, interesting locations, and other general topics as we hiked. This was a tough slog for me and had to rest plenty while Bryan was much younger and fit than I but was patient. I was also trying out my new (to me) Chamonix 04N2 4×5 camera so was having to learn its idiosyncrasies and taking longer than usual to set up.
Shot 1 – Mushroom in a Fallen tree’s roots. We passed by this mushroom and said we might stop back later. Bryan found a small creek up ahead a short distance so I went back and captured it. The lighting was dim and the difference in tone between the mushroom and detailed shadow areas was about 3 stops. I took two shots, one overexposed by 2 stops, dark shadows on zone 5+ and one placing the dark shadows near Zone 3+. We shall see which I like better. See image here
Shot 2 – We found an interesting root embedded in a rock wall. We both took this image with different points of view. Bryan used an extreme wide angle and got in very close. I used my 65mm lens from a bit further back. Tonalities in this shot were only 2 stops apart and required a long shutter of 22 seconds at f8. I do have bits of sky in the image but may still expand the negative to increase the contrast of the main parts.
Shot 3 – While Bryan was focused on an interesting fallen tree I saw a Ferns and Trees composition that captured my attention. With fairly even lighting this scene was also low contrast with only 2 stops difference. f32 for 1.4(ish) seconds on my 135 lens. The shutter 1 second timer is a bit slow so closer to 1.4 seconds so changed from f22.5 to f32. It will be interesting to see how Pyrocat HD will expand the negative for N+3 tonality.
Shot 4 – The waterfall and bridge tunnel – I shot this with a normal 180mm from a distance, while Bryan worked the scene from different views and lenses. I was worn out but noted the location for future visits. Bryan commented there is potential for an 8×20 format composition. Another long exposure due to sun going in and out of clouds at f22 for 14 seconds. When the sun was out the small waterfall was lit up a bit. So I took two shots with the sun shining and one while in more subdued light. The overall brightness of foreground did not change much. I need to reshoot this one.