Every winter I get this feeling about halfway through the month of January, I am ready for spring! This year winter feels especially long, and in fact it has rather felt like spring most of the winter. It’s been mild, way too mild. No ice, no snow, no frozen waterfalls. Without the wintry white stuff and plummeting temperatures, there is little to shoot, and I am suffering from a severe case of cabin fever. If I didn’t have so much damn work on my plate I would be half tempted to buy a ticket and take off to the desert, or any other old place than the Mid Atlantic. But alas, I a stuck here for at least another month getting caught up on the dullards of office work: writing blog posts, submitting articles and the such. I know I shouldn’t complain, but hell it’s an art I’ve mastered over the years, just ask my wife Amber and she’ll tell ya. So in the spirit of warmer weather, fresh greens and flowing water, I thought I would share a few images from my annual spring trip to Ricketts Glen State Park to shoot waterfalls. Ricketts Glen is no doubt a waterfall photographers wet dream with over 20+ falls in the park and numerous other small cascades and stream scenics.
All of these images were made in late May over the course of a very wet and foggy weekend. The perfect conditions to shoot waterfalls and forest scenics as it adds a sense of mystery as well as softening up the backgrounds and therefore they become less busy and don’t compete for the viewer’s attention as much as the falls themselves. The shot above is of Mohawk Falls, one of the first falls you will encounter when starting the hike from the Lake Rose trail head. Because there was absolutely so much water coming down the falls this day, I took full advantage and waded out across the rocks to a perspective below the falls with a series of interesting foreground cascades. In order to create a truly dramatic image and really emphasize the cascades I got low and close to the water. At knee level the front of my lens was a mere 12 inches or less from the from the cascades making them incredibly prominent and powerful in t he composition. The water was flowing fast and every few seconds the lens would become soaking wet with spray, so I made sure to keep wiping it down in between shots. All in all, it took me close to 25 exposures before I captured an image free of water droplets.
This is a favorite area of mine to shoot on Gonoga Glen just below Ganoga Falls. It is not an official waterfall, but the stream in the section of the glen has some great little drops and cascades along with a nice open view of the canopy. Because of the thick fog this afternoon I was able to go ultra wide using my Nikon 14-24mm at 14mm to include a sweep of the stream and the foggy forest in the distant frame. Even though the light was soft and overcast, it was essential to bracket two exposures in order to blend in detail from the brighter canopy while being able to expose for the darker stream and rocks. The two images were later hand blended using Adobe Photoshop CS5 via layers and masks. In order to gain the position and perspective for this composition, it meant getting wet and wading waist deep into the stream. I carried along a set of fly fisherman’s waders and each time I needed to get in the stream I would put them on and jump in.
And finally, here is an image from another favorite location of mine in the park. I call this area Triangle Falls, and I I’m sure you can guess why. This location is not officially marked on any of the maps of the falls, but is pretty obvious if you hike the entire circuit. Whenever I am out shooting I am always on the lookout for interesting shapes and lines to help compose my images. This area is a no brainer with the extremely graphic repeating triangle shapes. The lush spring forest in the background also makes for an appealing image. I got low and close once again with the wide-angle to emphasize the foreground shapes. I also played around with different ISO and shutter speed combination’s until I felt I had the right action and clarity in the water.
Every year I lead two One Day Workshops in the park. One in the fall and the other in the spring. Out fall workshop for 2012 is booked solid, but we do have 2 spaces available for our spring workshop. We would love to have you and always operate with small groups, no more than 6 individuals for this particular location.