Upper Desoto Falls

The Desoto Falls campground and trail has become one of my favorite spots lately. Frogtown creek at the campground level is a rock filled creek with plenty of composition opportunities. The 3/4 mile hike to Upper Desoto Falls is relatively easy and has a good viewing platform. The sound of the rushing water is very loud even for this small volume of water. There are four tiers of the falls and some interesting white rock near the top tier. A sign at the base of the trail indicates that the DeSoto Falls are named for Spanish explorer Hernando deSoto, who passed through Georgia around 1540. A plate of armor was discovered at the base of the falls in the 1880s. There is also a second set of falls only a 1/4 mile hike from the bridge but it is all up hill and not nearly as scenic.

I captured this image on a warm early morning in December of 2016 which is why most of the trees are bare. During warmer months the vegetation would be more dense and partially block the view of the top falls. I processed the 4×5 Delta 100 film using a diluted HC-110 at 1:63 but found the negative to be very contrasty and to have some other issues near the top that look like a light leak possibly from an unseated film holder or brief exposure while re-inserting the slide. So I filed it away thinking it wasn’t very printable and planned to re-shoot it someday. I went back to the Desoto Campground this month but the trail to the upper falls was closed due to storm damage.

So I had to re-evaluate how to approach this image for printing. First thing was to crop in a bit to remove the damaged top section. The right side of the image was in bright sunshine while the left side was shaded. This led to quite a bit of tonal difference which required nearly two stops more burning in. My field notes show there was only 5 stops of light difference but I think I over processed the negative a bit so the higher tones were expanded and had to be contracted during printing. I started with 10 seconds overall with a #1.5 filter. I then burned the top and upper left side an additional 5-10 seconds. The right side required a full 20 seconds to bring the tones up similar to the rest of the image. I also think I might like this image better cropped square from the bottom eliminating most of the upper trees. I could go darker too, but like the details in the lower rocks. Despite being a somewhat difficult negative to work with is has some interesting opportunities to explore as I revisit it. Your constructive criticism and feedback are always welcome if you have any other ideas for improving the image.

Technical: 4×5 Ikeda Anba, Delta 100 @100, f22, 1 second (+1/2 stop) , 65mm lens. Developed HC-110 1:63 for 12 mins. Printed on Ilford MGFB Warmtone 8×10. Color scan of print which shows the warmtone of the paper base but is warmer on screen than in person.


Partially bleached Split toned in Thiourea 20T:30SH:500 and Selenium 2:32 2 minutes. This formed a rich overall brown tone. This particular image was also printed lighter on the right side which was more in keeping with the light. Can achieve same tones with Nelson’s Gold Toner with full toning.
Split toned with Nelson’s Gold Toner for 12 minutes and 3 minutes in dilute Selenium for archival preservation. 10 minutes Gold toner would yield softer “tan” in highlights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *