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.

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.

 

Tellico River

On my way back home from the Great Smoky Mountains the other day I took a detour to a little place in Tennessee called Tellico Plains.

Tellico Plains has a lot to offer in the fall.  The color here was better than any color I came across in the Smokies, there is a river with a ton of water shots to be had  here, a very nice waterfall, not near the crowds of people and it's near the Cherohala Skyway.

I went for a few things, to photograph the water and escape the madhouse that was the Smokies in the Fall.  I accomplished both with ease.

This shot was taken from the first bridge I crossed as I traveled along River Road.  I normally like to get right down at water level when I photograph these rivers but, in this case, I wanted to capture the vast amount of color that was surrounding the river.  That was much better done from the bridge itself.  Getting down on the river I would have had to shoot upwards to include more color and that would have included a lot more of the nasty, no-nothing sky.

However, the no-nothing sky was what made the day!  It was very overcast and even started raining a few times while I was there shooting.  The overcast skies made the colors pop.  The little bit of rain also helped with that, too.  Make sure you have your polarizer, though, to kill reflections from everything being wet.

ISO 100, 30mm, F/16 @ 1/3 second

I shot this image with my Sony A7R II, LA-EA3 Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  I also used my Marumi Circular Polarizer to enhance contrast and eliminate reflections.  Of course I had my new favorite tripod, the Sirui W-2204.

Spruce Flat Falls

I returned this weekend from a quick 3 day trip in the Great Smoky Mountains.  I wanted to visit in the Fall, since I hadn't been there during this time of year in quite a while.  The Fall Colors were in full swing, too.  

I was primary focusing on photographing the rivers and water of the Smokies.  If you know anything about the park in the Fall, you know it's beyond crowded.  So, I tried to stay away from the Gatlinburg area all together and focused more on the Townsend side of the park.

The colors along the river were really, really good.  I got several river and waterfall shots that I am excited about during my 3 days there.

Here is a waterfall that is "off the beaten path".  I first saw it in a book about waterfalls in the Smokies and I knew I wanted to check it out.  This is Spruce Flat Falls.  It is located along a trail that starts behind the Institute at Tremont.  It is about a 1 mile walk in, but there is a significant elevation gain, so it is rated a moderate to moderate-difficult trail.  The trail isn't maintained so there are some tight spots, some boulders to pass over and around and a lot of tree roots along the trail to navigate through.  The reward was worth it, though.

ISO 50, 15mm, F/22 @ 25 seconds

This falls has about 4 "layers", of sections of falling water.  The main section, at the top, is about a 30 foot fall.  I wanted to get as much of that swirl effect from the leaves in the lower left corner of the frame as I could, so I dropped my camera's ISO down to 50 and stopped the aperture down to F/22.  That gave me a shutter speed of 25 seconds.

This image was made with my Sony A7R II, Metabones Lens Adapter and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  I also had a circular polarizer for this lens that is made by Fotodiox.  Since this lens has a large front element, a specialized filter setup is required and Fotodiox is the only company I know of that makes such a thing.  I also had all of this mounted to my Sirui W-2204 Tripod and K-20 Ballhead...my favorite new tripod and ballhead combo for waterfalls.

Anna Ruby Falls Pano

A few weeks back I was in the North Georgia Mountains with my good friend, David Akoubian.  We had an extra day to get in some shooting so we went to a couple of waterfalls.  One of those waterfalls was Anna Ruby Falls near Helen, GA.

While we were there, we were photographing from a bridge that the creek flowed beneath.  Well, right at the edge of the bridge was a cascade that I really wanted to get into the foreground and still be able to include the big falls in the background, too.   I was limited to a 24mm lens as my widest and it wouldn't allow me the composition I wanted.  I decided to remedy that situation by shooting a vertical panoramic image.

Most people always think of panos being in a horizontal format, but you shouldn't rule them out all together for a vertical.  In this case, I zoomed into about 50mm and set my aperture to F/16 and ISO to 100.  My shutter speed varied from frame to frame, but it was roughly around 2-3 seconds for each frame.  Once I had my settings dialed in and my focal length set, I basically started in the upper left and took three frames across the top left to right making sure to overlap each frame by at least 25%.  Then I went down about 75% (in order to overlap again by about 25%) and started the process over from left to right.  I repeated this process until I had everything I wanted to include in my image.  It ended up being 27 images (9 rows of 3 images)  total.  I then brought those home, and using Photoshop, I merged them into a panoramic file.  The result is what you see below.

I used my Sony A7R, LA-EA3 Lens Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens to capture this image.  It was mounted atop my Sirui R-5214X Tripod and K-40X Ballhead.

Minnehaha Falls in Veritcal

Here's another shot of MInnehaha Falls in North Georgia.  It, too, was taken with the Tamron 15-30.  This image is a vertical composition vs. the horizontal I posted a few days ago.  It's certainly a good idea to shoot both compositions when on site, and I recommend doing so.  I also believe that some scenes just lend themselves better composition wise to vertical more so than horizontal.  Of course, everything is subjective and mostly personal preference, but I think this scene looks much better as a vertical.

When I was standing there, in the water, I knew I'd like this better as a vertical composition, too. I could get more of the foreground anchor of the cascade and rock in the scene while still including all the top of the falls.  Also, there wasn't very much interesting to me along either side of the image, so I knew it would look more pleasing as a vertical to not include those portions of the scene.  It also allowed me to use the dark edges as kind of a natural vignette.

This image was made using my Sony A7R, a borrowed Nikon mount Tamron 15-30 Lens and a borrowed Novaflex lens adapter.  I had all of this gear mounted on my Sirui R-5214X Tripod.  I often get asked if I am in the water when I make these waterfall shots.  The answer, more often than not, is yes.  Sometimes that water is flowing at quite the force.  Having a stable and sturdy tripod like the Sirui R-5214X gives me the security that my image will be tack sharp, even in fast moving water.  That thing is SOLID.  It stands up to the moving water with ease.  I'm still impressed with how little it weighs for how much weight it supports, too.

ISO 100, 15mm, F/22 @ 20 seconds

I mentioned I was using a borrowed lens and adapter.  The way this adapter worked was the adapter had it's own aperture ring that you adjusted vs. adjusting the lens.  The adapter did not report a F # back to the camera, but I had it cranked down as far as it would go, so I'm assuming it was about F/22.  It gets pretty scientific out there, folks ;)