I found a couple of negatives I shot 2 years ago stashed in a box of rejects. I may have initially thought these negatives too contrasty or improperly processed. However in the darkroom I was able to pull out the details using split grade printing and a bit more skill than I had in the past. I ended up using Grade #00 and #2 contrast filters with most of the work being done with the #00 low contrast filter. The exposures under the enlarger were 1:15 long with filter #00 and 15-30 seconds with #2 filter. Dodging some areas with #2 and burning in at top of images due to flare for an additional 15seconds with the #00 filter. The water on the lower falls required the long times while the foliage needed almost none. I did not record my EVs for this shot but I am betting there was a 7-8 stop range and/or processing error in the negatives boosting the contrast.
The images are the upper and lower falls of Helton Creek in North Georgia. There is a long dirt road to get to this location and often only wide enough for one car, though you meet many coming and going as it is partially a residential area and camp ground. Once at the falls it is an easy 1/4 mile hike with gentle slope and rock steps. The lower falls are usually shot from the right side as there is a rock formation that juts out into the creek. I think this was the first place I had used my 65mm lens on the Ikeda Anba which required racking the bellows all the way back. The upper falls have a viewing platform so a strait on shot is easily achieved. I am thinking this pair would be nicely framed as diptych if I could match the contrast and general tonality of shadows.
Technical: Ikeda Anba 4×5 Delta 100, HC-110 68* 1+63 for 12mins (N). Lower falls f32, 3seconds, 65mm. Upper falls f22, 1second, 135mm. Printed on Ilford MGFB warm tone using Ilford Multigrade developer for 2 minutes. I will not likely tone these as they have lovely mixes of black, midtone greys, and pure whites.
9/1/2017 – I took a day off work and was in the mood to go reshoot the tunnel at AT- Byron Reece Trail. It was raining for the past few days due to hurricane Harvey in Texas. I also had a new-to-me 90mm to try out. When I arrived it was pouring rain. I waited about 30 minutes and the rain stopped but the sky was still cloudy and overcast which is fairly good for that location due to density of the canopy. The 90mm shutter is a bit quirky in that to use time I have to activate one shutter release and close it using another. I can not reliably hold the shutter open with the cable release. This was fine for the 6 second exposure but may be more problematic for 2-3 seconds. This was my 4th visit to this location so hopefully have learned from my prior attempts.
I also stopped at Boggs creek at 129/19 2 miles past Turners corner to reshoot the image I had tried before but ended up with too much fog. The air was clear and the sun was in and out of clouds. I chose to stop down a tad more than f22 and expose for 1 second vs .7 as indicated by my average meter reading.
I took two of each of these shots and will process individually. A good day despite the few number of targets.
The AT BHR creek negative was under exposed by at least one and a third stops. my first attempt to develop it was very thin, so I was able to adjust the development to add density. The low SBR allowed me to expand the mid tones while keeping the whites of the water within range. The negative still looks thin to me but scanned surprisingly well. Here is the scanned image with a little manipulation of tone in Lightroom.
Tech info: FP4@ EI 100, f22-, 6 seconds, Pyrcat HD 32mins minimal agitation.
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.
My monthly excursion to the mountains took me to the south end of the Chestatee WMA area to where Waters Creek and Dicks Creek merge and create a lovely cascade of waterfalls. I had visited once before with my family so the location was on my mental checklist of places to shoot. I arrived early but there were already fishermen extracting trout from the rushing pools. While I was there a photographer also began doing portraits of a family at the creek. The day was fairly productive with several targets and views to work with. I got 5 shots in all within a 2 hour window.
Image 1 – The upper falls drops sharply between a slit in the rocks and forms a nice pool which then cascades over a smaller wider rocky set of falls. There is also a fallen tree which arches over the top of the falls. I flubbed my first shot forgetting to stop down the shutter but did not realize until I was set up for next shot. I went back later to retake the image which went smoother, but I could not get back to same position due to fishermen in the space.
Image 2 – The laurel were blooming and the top of the lower falls had a nice angle across the creek with some still water pools and moving water to make for an interesting shot. The foreground laurel were also twisty and interesting.
Image 3 – The lower falls are much wider than the upper falls and are what most people like to capture. I started off with a 135MM lens but it was so wide I was capturing the fisher men on the banks of the creek on right.
Image 4 – Lower falls again but with 180mm lens and changed from horizontal to vertical view emphasizing the trees above the falls too. However another fisherman popped up at the top of the falls so I may not have this scene without people.
Image 5- I wandered down the trail a bit and found some laurel plants growing straight up with some nice ferns at their base. Light green ferns, dark foliage, and some twisty laurel in the background should be interesting. Low contrast scene so I will need to bump it up in development and printing.
Over the next few weeks I hope to share the images from this outing. My 135MM lens at f22 was my main workhorse for this trip. I need to get some ND filters and step up rings however so I can extend the exposures for waterfall shots.
Last Sunday I went for a hike on the Appalachian Trail at Woody Gap again, except this time I hiked back the other way. I knew there was a tree that sat at the base of a sloped rock that is sometimes covered with water at about the 1/2 mile mark. The tree has a large burled area at its base where it clings to the rocks. I had visited here once before but could not get a good angle on the tree and did not have a wide enough lens. This time I came prepared with my 65mm wide angle and got the shot I was after.
I then hiked another mile to the top of the ridge. That last few hundred feet is almost straight up but the ridge has a nice granite outcrop that over looks the valley and surrounding mountains. There is a tree there as well that provided a nice frame for the top half of the image. There were no clouds in the sky so the tree’s branches help break up the expanse and let the viewers eye observe the valley below. I might have hiked a bit farther but there seemed to be lots of hikers out that day, and several young ones were making the trek from Georgia to Maine. So my 3.2 round trip pales in comparison. I only took the two images this time but there were some nice little flowers I should have shot. Its a reminder I need to carry a smaller format for the “extras” that I don’t feel warrant the big camera. I really enjoy the discovery of the trail each time I visit.
Here is the burled tree and its surroundings. The image is best printed using a split grade method. I find the image rather busy and need to determine a way to bring in the 3 dimensional qualities of the natural site. There are several cropping possibilities.
Technical: Ilford Delta 100 4×5 ISO100, 65mm, f22, 1/4second, EV 8-14, 11 on zone V. Developed Pyrocat HD 22 minutes minimal agitation, printed split-grade on Ilford MGFB Classic in LPD 1:1.
As discussed in my previous post I was not happy with this image in the standard flat grey of Ilford MGFB or Warmtone papers. So I ordered some selenium and performed some tests. This image has been toned at 1:6 dilution for 15 minutes. The color shift began after 4 minutes in the dark tones and was fully toned by about 12 minutes. Overall I like this image better now.
I also toned the image from the classic paper for the same time but it was too purple of a tone for my liking. 3 minutes would have been fine for archival purposes.
Below is a comparison of before and after toning (upper left corner) for the different papers.
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.
As a personal project I plan to photograph as many waterfalls and scenic hiking areas in North Georgia as I can in the next decade. This area is known in Indian lore as the land of a thousand waterfalls. Fortunately many are preserved in the Chattahoochee National Forest and are fairly easily accessible. Water has always been a draw for me and even a deafening waterfall some how is peaceful. The rocks and trees are also great reminders of strength and solitude.
Trahlyta falls is located on Hwy 19 in Vogel State Park. Its an easy walk around the lake then down the path near the spillway. The landing platform is nearly at the bottom of the falls. This image was taken on a misty day with a bit of brightness in the sky creating a great deal of contrast. I metered on the water and rocks to right and shot the average but had to add time for reciprocity.
Ikeda Anba 4×5 FP4+ (iso 125), Schneider 65mm, f32, 3 seconds to get the water flowing effect.
Processed with Kodak HC-110 Dilution B (1:31) for 7.5 mins in a SP445 tank. Probably could have run longer but the negative is thick enough.
Prints easily between Grade 2 and 2.5 with 20% burn at top to reduce the sky flare.
Up near Helen Georgia is a great twisty road known as the Richard Russel Scenic Parkway. There are some scenic valley views and it is a heck of a fun drive in a sports car. There are at least two major waterfall destinations. Dukes creek falls, which is a relatively easy hike with wide pathways and a singular water fall that is spectacular to view. The second area known as Raven Cliff is about the mid point on the parkway and is more of a hikers trail. The narrow path meanders along a small creek which has at least 3 small scenic falls over the 2.5 mile journey to “the Wall”. At the end of the path one is confronted with a large exposed granite wall with a narrow slit cut in it by a sliver of water over time. During dry seasons there is almost no water flowing into the slot, but after a rain the water shoots and dances off the sides of the slot wall. During the winter months you can get up to the top of the wall and travel further up stream.
I was there during August on a comfortable 75 degree day after it had rained some. About 10:00 a.m. there was some light from the top left side of the wall that lit up the slot slightly. The textures in the wall were beginning to stand out. I began setting up my camera and was taking my meter readings when a couple decided they needed to stand where my camera was to take their I-Phone photos. Shortly afterward a large group of unruly teenagers showed up hollering and standing in front of my camera. Somehow I managed to find a window to take the shot between groups. An older woman nearby expressed interest in the camera and engaged me in conversation for a few minutes, but then asked if I could email her the image I just took. When I explained it was a film camera (as if the bellows did not give her a clue) she looked confused. I was tempted to take a shot with my I-phone and email it to her. I packed up and started the hike back to the car, but did stop and photograph some of the smaller falls on the way back. The five mile round trip was exhausting yet exhilarating knowing I had captured some interesting sites.
The image sat in the film holder for a few weeks before processing and printing. After developing the negative I could tell I had captured what I wanted. The negative had a nice glow about it and was well placed within the 5 stops of brightness in the scene. Printing the image is effortless and has the right look at grade 2. I finally felt like all the years of study and practice had come together for this one image, and it would be what would drive me forward and cemented my love of the 4×5 film format. Not everyone is able to identify this as a waterfall which is also why it holds interest for me. The textures on the granite cliff form a sort of abstract that can be explored in addition to hunting for the water.
Technical – Ilford FP4+ (rated iso 80), Ikeda Anba 4×5, 90mm Schneider SA, F32, 3sec, Developed in HC-110 1:31 @72 degrees for 5.5 minutes.
Continuing my self assignments I have been searching for locations nearby where I can experiment and learn once again. I had found a website of North Georgia hiking trails and found one location very near by. I even had some old ruins and several miles of trails through the woods. I took my son along to get him out of the house. He came in handy as an assistant both in scouting and carrying the heavy gear. While I had set out to shoot the ruins I found many more interesting shots along the creek.
These 3 stone stacks were interesting but in a difficult location to shoot. The orange color of the water is from mid afternoon filtered sunlight through brown leaves. Always remember to shoot subjects from different angles. Below is a wide angle shot of the river. There are so many potential rocks to shoot from I will likely revisit this location after rain and various times of year.
The ruins gave me a bit of trouble. There was a lot of sun flare and the dead trees seemed to add clutter to the image I wanted to create. I may reshoot these in the spring.
My Assistant and Son