Names and Places : Oregon

I discovered this spot on a family trip a month ago and was pleased when I had a chance to go back with a camera and tripod – and some rare decent weather. It is also only accessible at low tide, and happily, that worked for me as well. This small (4′ high) waterfall dries up later in the summer, so I was pleased to catch it still flowing. I worked the scene between passing clouds and got some lovely light before the clouds moved in. So everything was in place: light, timing, tide. Easy, right?

The fact is, the problem here was composition. I messed with this spot for an hour, trying close-up and distant, wide-angle and telephoto, backlit and front. In the end, this was my last, and favorite, of the bunch. But it is still, in my mind, imperfect. The tree in the background – a crucial part of the composition –  is simply not a strong enough shape to hold the design. The clouds in the sky add a nice touch, but they are basically filling in a big empty space. Hmmm…

For me, it’s hard to walk away from a place that I just don’t feel I’ve nailed. I just know this is going to bug me until I go back. It is possible, of course, that some locations simply don’t have great pictures in them. Try as you might, they just don’t do everything you want them to do.

Meanwhile, you might notice that I don’t mention the name of the waterfall, or the specific location. There has been a lot of chatter on the message boards lately about the ethics of identifying – or not – the locations of photographs. (Any comments here?) Many posters seem to feel that photographers are somehow obliged to reveal where pictures are taken. That seems a bizarre notion to me, partly because I am a professional and am materially harmed when identical pictures appear in the marketplace. But more than that, I am a big believer in “finding your own icons,”  e.g. discovering your own images rather than chasing the same old well-worn locations  (think : Snow on Merced River rocks, or bears catching salmon).

This waterfall is not particularly hard for anyone with an internet connection to find , so I’m not going to go out of my way to make it easier for you. But I do have to admit: I would be curious to see what someone else could make of this place. Good luck!

Nikon D3, 17-35mm Nikkor lens, 1-second exposure