|The Skull Behind the Water|
I checked out the sunrise forecaster and saw that there was a moderate chance that I would get to see some color in the sky at dawn. That meant that I might as well wake up early and try to shoot a sunrise. The question was, where to go? I had been thinking about going to Stone Mountain after all of the rain that we have had to work on Widow's Creek Falls again. This is one of my favorite waterfalls to go to because of its character. The clouds would be great for that, and according to the forecast, the rain/snow would not start until about 3pm. That would give me plenty of time to walk along Bullhead Creek and Widow's Creek from the lower trail head. As far as sunrise, I thought that I would try to shoot it using a barn that I've seen several times in Yadkin County which was on the way to Stone Mountain.
|Rock and a Soft Place|
I was making great time down the highway, and actually got to the barn a little earlier than I had planned. I started to scope out the scene to see how the sun would be in relation to the barn. My estimations were a little off unfortunately, and the angles that I had thought were not going to work. To make matters worse, I was going to have to include a very large power pole in the composition that I did not really want there. I still had time to get to another potential location in Traphill where I could shoot a sunrise. I got back on the highway and continued on.
I got there just as the park was opening up. In fact, I had to wait at two gates for Rangers to open them up. I arrived at the lower trail head and checked the sky once again. It was just gray, and it was about 5 minutes away from sunrise. I could have hoofed it over to the meadow that I like to photograph so much, but I really didn't think that it was worth the jog. I was also noticing that it was flurrying which probably meant that the clouds were a little too thick for any decent color. I grabbed my gear and started to walk down the main road which parallels the two creeks I wanted to work with.
As I was shooting, the snow was falling a little more heavy now, and I was pretty sure that the forecast was wrong about the starting time. I happened to look up at the sky a little while after sunrise. There was a pale pink hue in the clouds. It wasn't anything that I would have been interested in photographing so I was pretty happy with my choice of getting my feet wet.
There was a little water slide below where I was shooting that I went over to investigate. There was a small bit of white water, but more interesting was a flat rock that was propped in the creek bed in a diagonal fashion. I also saw a tree with a rather complex trunk system that caught my eye. I went ahead and started to work that scene out. The rock paired nicely with the white water coming off of the slope. The two really framed the tree quite nicely.
There was a nice row of rocks stretching from coast to coast that I was able to work some compositions out with. I kept my 70-200mm lens attached, and tried to keep it angled down since it was snowing pretty good now. With the Polarizer attached, I was unable to use the lens hood, so keeping the camera pointed down was the easiest thing to do. Fortunately, I found so many great things to work with in this section.
While I was up close to the waterfall, I decided to get a shot. I found a swirl forming in what would become my foreground. The amount of water sliding down the rock face was pretty impressive for this waterfall. Short of floods, this was the most I've seen here, and I liked it. I was having a very hard time keeping the glass dry though. I was using my hat to cover the element, but with the ballhead dripping wet, the camera was hard to fine tune with one hand. I decided to give up on this location and move under some trees in the hopes that I would be shielded from the rain a little.
It seems that more and more, these places of natural beauty are becoming targets of vandals. Sure, they are doing it in good fun. I've carved initials in benches before as a young man, so I'm not alien to the concepts of why it is done. However, putting initials and messages right next to a waterfall is something else entirely. I've seen it at several different falls over the years and it really ruins the beauty for the rest of us. I do wish that there was a way to stop this from happening, but it is just too easy to be unwatched at these places.
|On the Ledge|
I packed up the camera and started the mile walk back to where the truck was. There were a couple of places that I wanted to shoot on the way back when the sun was a little higher, but with the rain falling like it was that wasn't possible. The closer I got to the truck, the more the rain was starting to become snow. It was pretty, but it was also about five hours early according to the forecast.
With a narrow depth of field, I was able to focus only on the tree and not the background. This turned out pretty good, and the colors all complemented each other. I only got three shots before the snow turned back to rain again. With a fairly short shutter speed, you can actually see the snow streaking across the image. It doesn't really show up in the low res web version though.
With that tree completed, I finished the walk back to the truck and tossed the soaking wet equipment in the back and hopped in the front seat. I was cold and wet, but thought that I had a pretty good amount of shots for the morning. I had just under 100 frames shot in the three hours that I was at the park, but I didn't feel like I was finished with the day. I still wanted to shoot more, but the rain was telling me otherwise.
I did know that Winston was supposed to get the weather much later than the mountains so I decided to take the scenic route home and try to get in front of the heavy rain. I waited until I got into Yadkin County and saw that the rain was almost non-existent. That was where I branched off of the highway and went through Yadkinville.
|The Builder's Toys|
When I was done with the panorama, I heard somebody coming out of the shop. I was expecting the typical "What are you doing," followed by "Get the hell off my property!" routine. Instead I was greeted by a very nice man who invited me to come on in closer to photograph what I wanted. This was a nice turn of events, and seems to be the case with folks in Yadkin County. I chatted with him briefly, and found out that he built rat rods using the cars that were on the property. He had been doing it for about eight years now, and had completed 38 builds, some of which were shipped out of the country to clients.
I went back to the truck and swapped out my long lens for my 24-70mm and a polarizer. I was so excited that I forgot to put in a new battery which was getting depleted quickly at this point. I was like a kid in a candy store, the only problem being which car to shoot first.
The rain started to ease up once again, and I started to make my way around the property again. I had been looking at an old GMC truck for a while and decided that I would go and give it a closer look now. It was in a row of four trucks, and the one next to it was pretty interesting as well. I tried a group composition and reduced it to just the two. None of them seemed to work out the way I really wanted them to.
Now I was really looking for color having found this treasure trove of hues. My next subject was about 50 feet from where I was standing. It was an old Chevrolet tucked away in the weeds. I did notice that the trees were blooming behind the truck, and the blooms were a perfect pink. There were also burnt orange blooms mixed in which made for the perfect backdrop for this truck.
|Spring in Your Step|
I shot a few different exposures of this old truck, but with the rain really staring to come down, I decided that it was time to get a few more subjects under my belt before I lost the opportunity. I went back over to the rat rod side and started to look at the one completed rod situated in front of the barn. I had a lot of issues with exposure on this one since I was going to have to include the sky. I decided to get in close and skew the perspective to compliment the feel of the rat rod.
The rain was getting worse and worse now, and I decided that it was time to break stuff down and get back in the truck. As I was walking back to the truck, I went past the big white firetruck that had caught my attention earlier. I decided to give it another try with a different composition. I got myself positioned so that I had a minimum of distraction in the background and made the exposure.
I'll have to see where I can wedge a few into the gallery tomorrow as it is getting late right now. While I love coming back with so many pictures from a trek, it does take a bunch of time to do all that needs to be done with them. Until next time...