Winter is here, and is starting to take its hold in the Southeast. While not the single digits like it is supposed to be tomorrow, it was rather cold all day long and the temperatures kept on dropping as the day went on. The early morning clouds and drizzle were a little too good to pass up photographically speaking though. Looking at the weather, I had a window from about 8am till noon where I could take advantage of the really good lighting. The trick was....where to go? I had a lead on a couple of old 50's model cars on the other side of Yadkinville that I'm pretty sure would have benefited from this light, but after having spent a good portion of my more recent treks shooting old cars, I opted for something a bit different. I was wanting to work waterfalls, which I have only tinkered with in this photographic rebirth.
I opted to go to Hanging Rock for a couple of primary reasons. First of all, it is close so I would not waste valuable daylight getting there. Second of all, There were still a few falls in the park that I have not photographed recently that will have benefited from the recent rains that we have had. It wasn't going to be a grand trek by any stretch, but I was still looking forward to it. My plan was to head to Hidden Falls first because it has always been a favorite of mine. While I was there, I would go a little further down the trail to get to Window Falls which isn't one I typically care for, but its close to the other one so I might as well check it out while I'm there.
I started out early enough and made my way to the park shortly after the gates opened. I was the only person other than the rangers in the park....just the way I like it. I got parked and loaded up with my equipment before starting the relatively short hike to the first waterfall of the day. While I am not as interested in waterfall photography at this stage in my life, I still get a thrill heading out to one. It brings back all the memories of when I was known for my waterfall photography. Starting in late 2006, I answered the "call of the waterfall" and sought them out near and far. I can't remember the count of waterfalls that I had photographed, but I quickly built a section of a portfolio based solely on moving water. These days it isn't about finding and photographing as many waterfalls as I can, its about creating the quality images that convey what I am thinking and feeling at the time. Today, I was feeling the moving water, and that was what I was going to capture!
|The Hidden Falls|
When I was finished with Hidden Falls, I was starting to walk up the stairs to head over to Window Falls when I found this odd little sight. I almost passed it by, but the hole in the ground caught my eye. Mainly because inside of it was a spider web hammock. I wanted to photograph it, but wasn't sure how to go about doing it. I decided to make a "macro landscape" of sorts. By getting in close, and using a 70mm focal length, I was able to isolate a couple of key elements. As I played around with the scene, I found that the spider web wasn't the most interesting part of what I was seeing. The leaves in the foreground kept assuming the visual importance, so I embraced that and worked out a composition that turned the spider hole into a mystery of sorts. In the final image, it looks like a cave in the distance, but it was less than two inches in diameter. I'm still not convinced that I like this image, but it does hold a certain amount of interest for me.
|What Lurks Behind|
When you arrive at the top of the observation deck this is what you are faced with. You get a nice view of the waterfall, but it sure isn't picture worthy. To get a good view of the waterfall, you have to continue down past the observation deck to the base of the waterfall.
Even down at the base of the trail, you can see that there is very little to work with as far as composition. Usually, the best angle is to photograph it from this angle, only getting closer in. Today, I wasn't really happy with that. it was too done (by me), and I saw nothing special about what I was seeing. However, I was here, and I thought that I would spend a little time working this waterfall just to make the hike worth my time. I moved over to the other side, and I saw something that I hadn't seen before when it came to a composition. I guess it was the amount of water coming off of the rocks that really caught my eye, but for the first time, I saw real photographic potential here. I set the camera up in the middle of getting sprayed. I had to wipe the polarizer off before I started shooting because it had gotten so wet while I was picking my best spot to make the exposure. Before long I was bracketing exposures to get the right effect with the water. I didn't want it too milky, but I also wanted to avoid the choppiness of a short exposure as seen in my cell phone captures above.
I had worked this waterfall as much as I could imagine, and with the sun starting to peer through the clouds on a regular basis, it was time to pack up and move along. While hiking back to the truck, I kept an eye out for any other potential shots that were wanting to be captured along the way. I found several downed trees that wanted to be photographed, but as is the continual problem with the woods at Hanging Rock, there is just too much ground clutter! I tried to resolve several different scenes without any success. Everything just felt forced, and I didn't want to have any photographs that felt "forced" from today.
Thinking that I was done, and almost back at the truck, I happened to pay a little more attention than normal to the picnic shelters near the parking lot. I have always liked the stonework and wood, but have never really cared to photograph a picnic shelter before. As I was walking behind one of them and looking up, I saw the blue sky with some nice clouds floating around. There were some interesting trees close by the chimney as well. In my mind's eye, I no longer saw this as a shelter, but as the side of an old home. It was time to bring out the camera and work some compositions.
|Feels Like Home|
As you can see, the sky was clearing and that meant that it was time to move on. I looked for some other subjects to photograph after leaving the park, but since it was getting close to noon, the lighting was much too harsh to even try. I did find a lot of new potential subjects as I took a different way home this this time. I have a handful of ideas for another day now, and I am looking forward to that next day.
While I was at home, I found a couple of really nice surprises while I was processing the images from the day. As I was working on the picnic shelter images, I happened to notice the tonal values that appeared on the final images. I had everything from black to white, and lots of very good contrast. This would make for an excellent monochrome rendering. Shooting RAW affords me the ability to convert any of my pictures to black and white with relative ease. However, a good black and white image requires more than just the flip of a switch. It requires the right raw material to begin with. I felt that even though I had not shot these images with monochrome in mind, the elements were already there. I gave it a shot on Feels Like Home and was blown away by the results. Everything fit, and what is even better...the images work equally as well as color and as B&W. Because of that, they will both be appearing in my Rustic Scenes Gallery here.
|Feels Like Home in B&W|
|Stone Chimney in B&W|