Ever get that feeling that the universe is against you? Ever find yourself trying something over and over without success? I'm really starting to feel that way about working waterfalls these days. I've been trying to get to both Linville Falls and Roaring Fork Falls for some time now because they are two of my favorite falls to visit. Since the early Spring, I have been watching the weather and trying to figure out the best time to get out there. For the most part, the cloudy days come after too long with no rain, and both of these waterfalls benefit greatly from increased water flow. The few times when it appeared that everything fell into place, I was at work which meant there was no way I could get out there (its over a two hour drive away). It just wasn't looking promising at all.
Last week, on my last day off, I saw a window where I might be able to grab a quick session with both of these waterfalls. The forecast was calling for storms and rain for much of the day, but as I was looking, there appeared to be some clearing shortly after lunch where I could stay dry and make use of the residual cloud cover. I grabbed my stuff and headed out just before lunch. Much of the ride out there was in the rain, but the intensity was ebbing so I kept thinking positive thought. In the last few miles of the ride, the rain started back up with a purpose though. When I arrived in the parking lot, I chose to stay dry in the truck and hoped that it would pass.
I checked my phone and saw that the edge of the rain looked like it was over me based on the radar image. However, the hourly showed rain for the next hour before clearing. I had driven over 2 hours to get here...I opted to stick it out. As the hour ticked by, the hourly forecast kept stretching the rain further out, until eventually there was no respite from the downpours in the near future. With tail firmly tucked between my legs I started the truck and headed home without even opening the door.
I had unfinished business with the waterfalls, and I had been watching the weather yet again. With rain in the forecast off and on yesterday, the water levels should be up, and there was approximately 75% cloud cover forecasted for both Linville Falls and Little Switzerland. With the rain chances in the single digits, this was going to by my day! I made plans to leave shortly after daybreak to time my arrival with the clouds around 9am. I was a little bit late leaving because I was seeing some changes in the forecast, and Toni was telling me that there was a chance of rain now. Despite this, I opted to give it a try since the extended forecast showed no more promising days for a very long time.
When I left, the sky was fairly clear, but I could see clouds in the distance. That was falling right along with what the forecasts were telling me was going to happen. I was very optimistic, and excited about getting out to see my waterfalls again after many years. I stopped in Wilkesboro to get gas, and happened to see a couple of old pickup trucks which were parked right off of US 421 showing to be for sale. They were the right body styles for what I liked to photograph, but one of them was spray painted black, and they were parked very close together. I had other things to focus on right now so I didn't even stop to look any closer.
When I arrived at the Blue Ridge Parkway, I started to see rain drops hitting the windshield. There were sporadic and I've worked in worse. The main thing was I was seeing the cloud cover that was going to provide my diffused lighting that I was wanting for the two waterfalls. The further South I traveled though, the more rain was falling, and the more foreboding the clouds were becoming. I was starting to cuss under my breath and thinking that I should have just stayed home since this was turning into a repeat of last week.
About 10 miles before getting to Linville Falls the rain stopped and the clouds thinned just a little bit. This was going to be perfect! I had gambled and it had paid off!!
Don't cash out your chips before the dice finish rolling....
When I parked in the visitor center parking lot, I realized that it was awful bright. I stepped out of my truck and took a look at the situation. The sun was blazing through an opening in the clouds, but it looked like there were more clouds about to move into position under the sun. I took a deep breath and grabbed my equipment for the short hike to Dugger's Creek Falls. The clouds moved into position and everything started to come together for me. I shimmied down to the actual water below the observation bridge and started to build my camera. From experience, I knew that my 24-70mm would be sufficient to capture the composition I was after. I added both a polarizer and my vario-ND filter. I then waded out into the water and found my composition. Unfortunately, my shooting location was dictated in part by the water level. While it was nearly perfect for the waterfall, the actual creek was pretty deep where I liked to shoot from.
|Hope Springs Eternal|
The waiting did pay off though as I managed to see the sun fading in time to turn the camera back on, fine tune the exposure, and crank off a quick frame. Just like that, it was over. Looking up, all I saw was blue sky. Having gotten two different compositions from this waterfall, I decided it was time to pack things up and head back to the truck to assess the situation. The barrage of sap that was now falling on me also prompted that same decision.
When I arrived in the parking lot, there was not a cloud in sight. So much for 75% cloud cover in the area. This was just no good at all. Roaring Fork Falls is very unforgiving of directly light. It was about 30 miles to the South, and I wasn't seeing any clouds in the distance. I tried to access the weather on my phone, but I didn't have any service this time, so there was no way to check on the weather. Not wanting to push my luck, I opted to forego Roaring Fork and save it for another time when I was assured some clouds. It was time to bow out gracefully (well, not so gracefully because I wasn't sure I had anything usable), and start home while looking for other targets of opportunity.
There was not a cloud to be found along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and nothing all the way down the mountain. I was pretty sure I was headed home with 11 frames from one waterfall and doubted that any of them would be good enough to keep. Chalk this one up to another trek where I come home with my tail between my legs in defeat. I'm not liking this habit one bit!
I tried very hard to isolate the Chevy from the Ford, and was able to do that rather well. The problem though was the power lines above that came into the frame based on my composition. I was going to have either power lines or a satin black Ford in the picture. Since I can't stand power lines in pictures, I opted for the Ford. At least the black color was subdued and didn't carry much visual weight when paired with the other colors in the scene.
|Looking Through the Lens of History|
|Jack of All Trades|
|Used and Abused|
|Age Old Debate|
OK, I was starting to feel better now. I might have something from Dugger's Creek Falls, but I was pretty sure that I had a keeper or two from the Chevy. I was starting to get my optimism back again. In just a few miles, I turned off of US 421 and started to snake my way East along the local roads. I was looking behind houses and businesses for clues that I am starting to recognize when it comes to looking for these old vehicles. I'm not sure exactly where I was, only I was in Western Yadkin County, but I passed by a metal building and caught a glimpse of a pickup and a small car to the rear. I got turned around and drove into the gravel lot. The front door was open, so I poked my head in and found the owners.
I introduced myself and asked if it would be OK for me to grab a few pictures of the cars out back. One of the gentlemen stopped what he was doing and asked for what purpose I was wanting to take the pictures. I was starting to have flashbacks of the armed property owner telling me that he didn't want me on his property. I answered that the pictures were for my own personal purpose and that I just really enjoyed photographing old cars. With that simple explanation he gave me permission to go around back.
|Ran When Parked|
After about 45 minutes here, I was getting very hot and decided it was time to get back in the A/C and call it a day. I had a little over 65 frames from the day. Considering the fact that nothing I was planning for panned out, I was pretty happy about that. I wasn't too sure if any of them would come out though. The sun had been so bright I was having a hard time reviewing the images on the LCD, other than to check the histogram. I was conservatively hoping for three usable images when all was said and done.
Obviously, I didn't have high hopes for this happening because it was hours before I even looked through the pictures to see what I had. Looking at the digital negatives, I was pleasantly surprised and my excitement started to build once again. As I was putting them through post processing and converting them from the RAW format I found that I had quite a few more than I had originally thought. Seven pictures would have been a 10% crop and I would have been absolutely thrilled with that, but instead I ended up with 10 pictures I deemed good enough to hold onto. That is not too shabby considering how I had been viewing my progress all day long. All I can say is, I"m glad I went, and I'm glad that I kept trying to get some more subjects in before getting home.