Between conventions earlier this month, we were staying with friends in Tennessee and decided to go for a little hike. They lived close to the Smokey Mountains, so we headed out to a trail that led out to Falls Branch Falls.
I was working in the earlier part of the day, and we needed to be home in time for supper, so our hike happened to be a late afternoon excursion. It was a beautiful, sunny, spring day! This meant that there would probably be full sunlight on the falls. Not knowing what to expect, though, I brought my tripod and camera anyway to see what photos I might be able to come away with despite the harsh lighting.
The hike down was through the woods and full of little things to take pictures of along the way. As always, some subjects work, and some don’t.
When we got close to the falls, I pulled out my tripod. It was kind of neat how there was an opening right through the trees at this spot.
On a cloudy day, this angle would be worth working. The falls would be the only bright thing seeking your attention. But that day, there wasn’t much potential.
However, when we got right up to the falls, I was so excited to see that the bottom half of the falls (not visible in the photo above) was actually in shade from the trees and steep hill on the other side. I put on a zoom lens and went to town!
First angle felt too cropped in:
Then this green spot of moss caught my attention. Thought it would fit nicely into a vertical composition:
The light on the moss disappeared as soon as it had appeared. I went back to capturing the entire base of the falls:
Falls Branch Falls, Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee
Download as a free desktop background in the next Latest from Lenspiration update (subscribe)
I think this is my favorite shot. The sunlight streaming in. Sparkles of water catching the light. The contrast between light and dark. A frame full of motion and mystery!
Not knowing at the time that the above photo would be my favorite, and always trying for better and better shots, I tried a slightly different perspective. A little more simple, focusing on the water pouring onto that one rock on the left, highlighted with just enough sunlight to make it glow:
Now going vertical again to catch the light rays, this time a little less tight:
By this time, more of the falls was in shadow. As I stood there, satisfied with what I had captured up to that point, I realized that if I went and stood on the other side of the falls, with my back to the sun, I should most certainly see a rainbow!
So I scrambled across the raging stream and climbed part way up the steep, slippery bank. Wow! There it was:
Crawling down a little further, now in the wet zone, where water sprayed over me continually, there was a better angle on the falls, though not necessarily as good for the rainbow. This was the best I could get before my lens covered with spots of water.
And I can assure you there were still lots of water droplets to edit out of this one.
I felt like I was in some exotic jungle as I perched there on the algae covered ledge, wet from the spray, lush greenery surrounding me, and the constant roar of falling water thundering in my ears. I couldn’t help but throw back my head and laugh in the glory of that awesome moment enjoying God’s incredible creation!
On my way back across the stream, I tried to photograph this one last angle:
The spray was awful. I wiped my lens continuously, and tried to take multiple shots for a photo merge. But that was impossible. The lens needed clean between each photo, and every time I touched the lens, the camera would move ever so slightly. Plus, for longer exposures to exposure for the dark areas of the photo, the lens would get covered before the long exposure was half way finished.
But I did manage to get this one shot exposure:
By this time, my fellow non-photographer hikers had displayed patience more than I deserved to receive. It was time to go, but I knew I was walking away with some good photos and was looking forward reliving the experience again whenever time allowed to sit down and process them.
“But the LORD [Jehovah] is the true God, . . . He hath made the earth by His power, He hath established the world by His wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by His discretion.” Jeremiah 10:10,12
Wow! These are some awesome waterfall pics! God’s creation is so amazing! I think these are some of most epic waterfall pictures I have ever seen. My favorites were “Raining Sunshine” and the last picture.
Yes, it was an incredible waterfall! But it also had a lot to do with working the scene, finding the right angles, and include/excluding specific things. That’s what makes photography fun, though. 🙂
Beautiful photographs, James! The forest is such a lovely, lovely spot. It is my favourite place in all of God’s creation. I, too, would be thrilled to shoot in a forest such as that- with a waterfall as a magnificent bonus!