fall

That Lens Isn't Wide Enough

This past weekend, I met up with a small group of friends to do some waterfall photography in the back woods of North Georgia.  I am always up for waterfall photography!  When you throw in nice weather conditions and a waterfall I've never visited before, I will be even more excited.

I wanted to make sure I was traveling light for the trip, so I only took the Canon 5D IV and the new Tamron 24-70mm G2 Lens.  This was my second chance to try out the new Tamron Lens.  I have no idea how they did it, but they managed to make it even better than the previous 24-70, which I used more than any other lens in my arsenal. 

One of the falls we visited was Crow Creek Falls.  It has two parts, an Upper Crow Creek Falls and a Lower Crow Creek Falls.  I enjoyed the upper falls much more and spent more time photographing it. 

Did I mention that I only brought my 24-70mm lens?  When I typically shoot these water scenes, I like to use a wide angle lens and anchor the foreground with something.  In my experience going with a wider lens, like a 15-30mm is usually too wide for these scenes.  It also presents a bit of another problem in the fact that you will absolutely need a circular polarizer for these scenes...and although I have the polarizer setup for that lens, it is bulky and takes a bit of work to assemble.  I went the lazy route and stuck with the 24-70mm lens and its easy peasy, screw on polarizer.

Aperture-priority, 2.5 sec, f/16, ISO 100, 24mm

I wanted to use this group of rocks and small cascade as my foreground anchor, but when I tried that at 24mm I was losing the main waterfall in my composition.  I need to be wider!  Crap, I was lazy and didn't bring my wider lens.  What did I do?  I took two shots.  One for the foreground, then another including the main waterfall in the background overlapping the scene by about 30%.  In Lightroom I used the Photo Merge feature to create a panoramic out of the two images.  I got the composition I wanted and I could still be a little lazy by only bringing one lens...winner winner chicken dinner!

Image made with Canon 5D IV, Tamron 24-70mm G2 Lens and Sirui Circular Polarizer.  Gear supported by a Sirui W-2204 Tripod and K-20x Ballhead.

Machine Falls

This past weekend I got the chance to meet up with a friend that was traveling from New York to Texas and show him a few waterfalls in Tennessee.

This turned out to be a much better trip than I had ever anticipated.  We've had so little rain here in the last several months I didn't really expect there to be much water anywhere.  The water level at our first waterfall, Rutledge Falls,  was OK.  It was definitely low, but it was still good.  Then we moved onto to one of my favorite falls, especially near my home, Machine Falls.  Machine Falls still had a pretty good amount of water, which made for great shooting.

I've been to and photographed Machine Falls more times than I can count.  It's always a bit of a challenge to come up with something different while I am there.  

Aperture Priority, F/16, ISO 100, 6 seconds

I tried a composition I have tried in the past, only this time I was able to do it with a very wide angle lens in the Tamron 15-30.  I basically climbed right up next to this lower fall and shoved the lens right in it's face.  Then I used a circular polarizer by Vu Filters to cut all the glare off the rocks and water.

Canon 5D III, Tamron 15-30, Vu Filters, Sirui W-2204 tripod and K-20 Ballhead

 

More Fall Color From Maine

I cannot even begin to tell you how great the fall colors were when we were in Maine for our workshop last month.  It was some of the most intense fall color I had seen in a very long time. I tried capturing it in many different creative ways.  One of those ways was to put one of the many birch trees in one half of the frame and have the fall color melt into the other half of the frame by using a shallow depth of field and a long lens.  I did this same technique for this image, but I changed the focus point to be the leaves just past the birch tree.  

Aperture Priority, F/5.6, 1/125th, ISO 800

For this image I used my Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600 G2 Lens.  I had that setup mounted to my Sirui W-2204 tripod with K30X Ballhead.  I simply set my aperture to wide open, and being only 7 or 8 feet away from my subject, I was able to get a very shallow depth of field and isolate the leaves.

Looking Glass Falls

Yet another roadside, North Carolina waterfall that I hit last week was Looking Glass Falls.

Looking Glass Falls is inside the Pisgah National Forest.  It is located right along the road with a staircase that leads you to the bottom of the falls.  This fall is located near Brevard, NC along U.S. Highway 276.  It is about a 60 foot fall.  This is a real nice fall, and one to hit if you have little to no time to spare and want to see an impressive fall.

ISO 50, 15mm, F/16 @ 1 second

I made this image with my Sony A7R II, Metabones Adapter and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  My tripod of choice was the Sirui W-2204 and K-20x Ballhead.

Image was processed in Lightroom and On1's new Suite 10.  I loved the On1 Products before but now they are easier to use than ever before.

Another North Carolina Waterfall

When I started researching waterfalls I wanted to stop at on my trek across North Carolina, I knew this one was a must see after viewing a few images of it.

The one was a little tougher to track down though.  It seems several people have several different names for it.  I saw it listed as Cathedral Falls, I saw it listed as Shoal Creek Falls and I saw it listed as Bird Rock Falls.  Tracking it down was a little harder since it had several names.  Also, it was not visible from the road and it was on private property.  The property owner allows visitors to enjoy the waterfall as long as the park along the roadway and not on their property.

I basically found the GPS coordinates online for its location.  Once I got there, I parked the car, got out, walked a little, got back in the car, drive a little, made a lot of u turns, spotted the red building, parked along the road and followed the "private property enter at own risk" signs until I saw the falls.

ISO 50, 15mm, F/22 @ 1 second

I shot this with my Sony A7R II, Metabones Adapter and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  I had all of this mounted atop the Sirui W-2204 tripod.  

This waterfall was a little tough to shoot, simply because if you wanted to include the entire red cabin, you had to include the sky, too.  Although the sky was a no nothing overcast sky, which was great for shooting the waterfall, it's not so great when it's part of the image.  I attempted to overcome that by using On1's new suite 10 to help process the image.  I was able to boost the colors of everything else and add a vignette to try and draw you away from the sky.  

I, myself, am not a fan of the included sky, but I am big enough fan of everything else that I can learn to live with it.

Bald River Falls

On the detour trip home from the Smoky Mountains, we got to swing by a little known place in Tennessee called Tellico Plains.  Although there are several places along the river in Tellico Plains to shoot and get great images, the main attraction is Bald River Falls.

Bald River Falls is a 90 foot waterfall.  It is easily viewed from a bridge that goes along Tellico River Road.  Some consider these falls to be the most impressive and scenic in all of East Tennessee.  I can certainly tell you it's worth the visit.  This was my third of fourth trip there but the first time during fall colors.  The colors did not disappoint! 

ISO 50, 30mm, F/22 @ 1 second

I made this image with my Sony A7R II, LA-EA3 Lens Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 Lens.  I also had my Marumi Ciruclar Polarizer on the front of my lens.  All mounted to my Sirui W-2204 Tripod, of course.

Smoky Mountain Cascade

Here is one of many images I shot along the Tremont area of The Great Smoky Mountains last week.  The color was good, the shooting was good and most of all it was a relaxing trip that relieved a lot of stress from the weeks before.

I know what you are asking me right now..."Did that leaf happen to fall perfectly on that rock in the foreground?".  Nope, I put it there.  I think it helped anchor the foreground and give you the feeling of Autumn much more than the plain rock without it.  Not only did I put it there, I probably even splashed water on it to give it more contrast.  Call me a cheater... ;)

ISO 100, 19mm, F/16 @ 2 seconds

I made this image with my Sony A7R II, Metaobnes Lens Adapter and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  I also had my gigantic Fotodiox circular polarizer rig and my Sirui W-2204 Tripod.  

One of the things i really like about the Sirui W-2204 being waterproof is before Whenever I spent the day photographing water, I'd have to come home, extend my tripod and let it dry out in the garage...well those days are over with this thing.  Since no water ever gets in the leg sections that is no longer necessary.

 

Variable ND Filter

Last Friday, on All Hallows's Eve, a friend and I went on an all day photo excursion which led us to Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, GA.

Although the forecast wasn't calling for it, the weather turned out to be perfect for waterfall shooting...it was really overcast and was even starting to spit rain a bit.  

Once we arrived I noticed the color in the canyon was off the charts good!  So we start walking the 6, 450, 000 stairs to the bottom (that's a rough estimate based on my heart rate coming back up) and we finally make it to the big waterfall, which I believe is Cherokee Falls.  While the color around the falls was good, the sky was not so good...just a boring white, no nothing sky.  So that was the first obstacle to overcome.  The next obstacle was leaves in the water.  See, I wanted them to swirl around and look all cool like, but they weren't moving all that much and my exposures were in the 2 second range with only my circular polarizer on. Here's an image with just the polarizer:

ISO 100, 70mm, F/16 @ 2 seonds

ISO 100, 70mm, F/16 @ 2 seonds

Notice how the leaves really didn't move enough to cause much of a fuss about?  Enter stage left...Vari-ND filter.  I normally don't use ND filters on waterfalls themselves, however in this case I wanted the leaves to show a lot more movement than 2 seconds would allow for...so I dialed it down until I got to about 25 seconds.

ISO 100, 70mm, F/16 @ 25 seconds

ISO 100, 70mm, F/16 @ 25 seconds

The only thing that has changed here is the shutter speed (I took both of these shots with my Sony A7R camera, Metabones Lens Adapter, Tamron 24-70mm Lens and Vanguard Abeo Plus 323CT Tripod)...and what a difference it has made!  Now we can see the movement much, much better in the leaves!  We've also smoothed the water itself out quite a bit.  

The moral of the story is:  1. Get a Vari-ND filter (or a regular ND filter in a 6 or 10 stop would work, too).  and 2. Always carry it with you!

Infrared Mountain Scene...from somewhere in the Tetons.

On this trip to the Tetons, I took a lot more gear than I've taken in the past.  One of those pieces of gear was my Canon 40D that was converted to infrared by Lifepixel

On our first day in Grand Teton National Park, we were pretty much just scouting and venturing around when we came across this scene.  I'm not sure we even knew where we were, but we did pass a sign that said something about Bridger-Teton National Forest...so I'm sure that's where we were...I'm sure of it.

This was a beautiful scene, and we knew it once we first came upon it.  There was a stream, great trees decorated with fall color, mountains, cows....how could it not be great?  Well, I wanted to capture it in a different way than I normally would, so I put my Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Lens on that converted Canon 40D and fired off a few frames.  Since I was hand holding, and depth of field wan't an issue since everything was so far away, I went with an aperture setting of F/8.  I also bumped the ISO a tad to 400.  This gave me a shutter speed of 1/160th of a second.  Since it was shot at 60mm, and that lens was equipped with Tamron's VC Technology, I had no doubts I could hand hold and get a nice crisp image. 

There is a little bit of extra post processing that goes into getting these infrared RAW files to turn out looking like infrared shots, but I do believe the extra effort is worth it.

I really like how this image turned out, and I'm glad I shot it because I may not be able to find my way back to it! ;)