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.

Important, Overlooked Items For Waterfall Photography

Yesterday, I headed to Southern Tennessee to do some waterfall photography.  The places I went I had visited several times in the past, but these are also places that could never get old.

When I left the house it was steadily sprinkling rain and had been for several hours.  Perfect weather!  When I got out to start photographing, of course the rain got heavier.  However, I was prepared.

Aside from all of the critically important things, like a solid tripod and circular polarizing filter, there are several things that often get overlooked that can make you leave happier.  First, a lens cloth.  I took several yesterday, and needed them all.  Even if it isn't raining steadily, a lens cloth can be used to wipe water spots off the front of your filter.  I tend to create wide angle compositions and put my lens really close to a cascade.  I place this cascade in the foreground to anchor the image.  Even it is isn't raining, splash from the cascade finds it's way onto the front of my filter.  The lens cloth saves the day!  There isn't much worse than getting home and finding blobs all over your image.  Another important item is a shower cap.  Although keeping my hair looking stellar is of utmost importance, I am using the shower cap to keep my camera and lens dry.  It is cheap, and works remarkably well.  I have a weather sealed camera body and lens, but I still throw the shower cap on as added protection.  It's not a bad idea to have one even if it isn't raining, too.  It can keep those splashes off of the camera.  A good item to keep in the camera bag is a terry cloth.  Typically if I am putting my camera in the bag and it is even a little wet, I will wrap it in the terry cloth and let the cloth absorb any moisture.  I never "wipe" the camera.  This could force moisture into tiny cracks and crevasses.  The best method is the dab the areas, or just wrap it up and let the cloth do the work.  Silica Gel is another item I keep in the camera bag.  You know those little packets you get in packages that come with the "do not eat" warning.  Those are designed to absorb moisture.  They can be purchased cheap online, or you can just save them from any packages you receive.  I typically keep a few pouches in my camera bag at all times, but I especially make sure I have them in there if I am going to be shooting near water.  A few last things to consider are bath towels and a change of clothes.  These items can save you from a long, soaked, cold ride home.  

Here is one of the images I made yesterday at Short Springs Natural Area in Tullahoma, TN.  This is such a great area to visit if you are nearby and love photographing water.  

Aperture-priority, 6 sec, f/16, ISO 100

This image was made using my Canon 5D IV, Tamron 24-70 G2 Lens, Sirui Circular Polarizer and Sirui W-2204 Tripod.

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

 

Spruce Flat Falls

Here's an image of Spruce Flat Falls located in the Tremont area of GSMNP.  This is a really nice waterfall with the upper section being about 30 feet tall.  It is about a mile hike to get to, however.  The trail for this fall begins at the Tremont Institute.  

I took this image using my Tamron 15-30mm lens and just got as close to the water as I could.  You can't shoot these waterfall scenes without a circular polarizer.  I used a special filter mounting system designed for the Tamron 15-30 by Vu Filters.  It allows me to have a polarizer on that lens.  I can also add additional filters if needed, like a neutral density or graduated filter.

Sony A7R II, Metabones Adapter, Tamron 15-30, VU Filters Polarizer, Sirui W-2204 Tripod and K-20 Ballhead.

Aperture Priority, F/16, ISO 100, 2 seconds, 16mm

 

Spring Fever

Over the last few days here, when it hasn't been raining, the weather has been off the charts good.  That has brought on a huge case of Spring Fever for me.

I have a few trips upcoming to focus on the plants and animals coming to life again, but I'm also super stoked about our upcoming Smoky Mountains workshop.  With all the rain the area has been receiving the rivers and streams should really be flowing this year.

ISO 100, 24mm, F/16 @ 1.3 seconds

This is an image from The Roaring Fork Motor Trail.  It is always a hot spot for nice flowing water against the green, mossy rocks.  Using a circular polarizer not only helps to reduce glare and reflections, but also helps to boost contrast, which makes the greens pop a little more, too.

This image was made with my Sony A7R, LA-EA4 Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.

Favorites of 2015

I've had a few months absence from posting to the blog.  I really took the last few months of 2015 to chill out and hang with the fam.

I see the "in" thing now seems to be everyone posting  their "best" or "favorites" from the year of 2015, so I thought I'd follow suit here.  Many of these photos are special to me for various reasons.  It's mostly the memories made more then the photographs made.  Spending time with friends, stories we will talk about for years to come, some killer breakfasts after sunrise, I could go on and on...the point is, I probably like these for reasons that wouldn't make much sense to many of you, but that's one of the aspects of photography that I enjoy the most; friends and memories.

I hope you enjoy!  I included 15 images, since it was well...2015.

You can click on each image to view it larger.


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.

Dry Falls

All last week I was traveling for business.  I had the opportunity to drive through North Carolina.  I took this chance to stop at a few waterfalls along my route that I had researched and decided would be worth my while.

The first falls I stopped at was Dry Falls.  It's so named because you can walk behind the waterfall without getting wet.  This is a very popular waterfall located just north of Highlands, NC,it's inside the Nantahala National Forest and is about a 65 foot fall.

It's very popular because it can be seen from the road and there is virtually no hike to get to it.  From the parking lot you can view the falls from an overlook, or, if you choose to go behind the falls, there is a staircase leading down to a path that takes you behind the falls.  That is also one of the reasons I choose this fall to visit.  I had very little time to spare on my trip, so I needed to choose falls that had little to no hike involved.

ISO 100, 24mm, F/22 @ 0.8 seconds

If you look closely at the image, you can see the walkway that goes behind and around the falls. It was a chilly, fall day when I was there, so the crowds were at a minimum.

I made this image using my Sony A7R II, La-EA3 Lens Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  I also used a circular polarizer and, of course, my Sirui W-2204 tripod.   

More Falls in The Fall

Here's another shot from last week in The Great Smoky Mountains.  The color was really nice while I was there.  These kinds of photo opportunities were plentiful along Little River Road and in the Tremont Area.

ISO 100, 15mm, F/16 @ 2 seconds

When I came upon a scene like this I tried to take the same approach to most of them.  I was using my new Tamron 15-30mm Ultra Wide angle lens.  I knew I needed to find a foreground anchor, so I usually looked for an interesting flow of water or a rock.  A foreground anchor really helps add depth to your images.  If I chose a rock, sometimes it had a nice set of fallen leaves on it, sometimes I put some leaves on it. Once I had the foreground anchored, then I made sure my composition lead you through the image to the brilliant display of fall colors in the background.   

This image was made with my Sony A7R II, Metabones Lens Adapter and Tamron 15-30 F/2.8 Ultra Wide Angle Lens.  I can;t photograph water without a circular polarizer, so I had one of those, too.  All of my gear was resting atop my Sirui W-2204 Waterproof Tripod.