A Couple Falls at Hanging Rock

Saturday, February 10, 2018

So this is how my day played out.  Sierra was at my Mom's, Toni was at work, and I was at home alone for the day.  Times like this I enjoy taking advantage of by getting outside and doing a little bit of photography.  The problem....rain.  According to the weather forecast, there was going to be rain pretty much all weekend long.  I can shoot in the rain, but I try to avoid it because of all of the concerns with getting water on the lens, and having to dry my equipment out.  That kind of meant that I was going to be staying home and watching TV.  Boring!

When I woke up, I could see that it was foggy outside, and had been raining.  However, it didn't look to be raining currently which was a nice surprise.  I poked my head outside and found that there was a slight mist that was associated with the fog.  I could deal with that if I decided to go out.  I looked at the weather and saw that there was a brief period where the rain would likely stay away.  TV, or going out and enjoying nature.  Well...you know how that discussion went.

I decided that I would find some waterfalls to shoot.  Since I didn't have all day before the rain returned, and I didn't want to spend the entire day driving, I wanted to go somewhere close.  That pretty much meant Hanging Rock or Stone Mountain.  Stone Mountain only has one waterfall that I am particularly interested in, and I wasn't really feeling like working that one today.  Hanging Rock had several falls that I liked to photograph...five named falls with another two unnamed falls.  I would have much more to choose from if I went there.  That made the decision easy enough.

In about 45 minutes I was pulling in the parking lot under a heavy drizzle.  Nothing like an accurate weather report huh?  Well, I was here, I might as well get to hoofin' and see what I can capture.  I had decided that since there was a slight fog in the air, I really wanted to try window falls which has some really nice textures to play with.  I could also stray down another trail and get a few of Hidden Falls along the way.

By the time I got to Hidden Falls, the rain was a little more steady, but still bearable.  I didn't need to put the all weather cover on the camera, but I did need to use my hat to shield the front element from the drops.  I was using my 24-70mm lens with a B+W CPL on it which just didn't have the coverage needed from the lens hood.  I tried to get something different from my normal compositions at this waterfall, but kept finding myself repeating those standard shots.

I backed up a little bit and went wide with the lens.  That gave me the opportunity to include some of the greenery to the left which added a bunch of depth, and helped to accentuate the fog that was hanging over the waterfall.  I had done this composition before, but the water wasn't flowing as nicely, and the falls got lost in the overall composition.  This was working out much better today.

Weeping Rocks
Leaving my camera built as it was, I continued down the trail to Window Falls.  I was pleasantly surprised that the water was flowing much better than the last time I was here.  In fact, it was prominent enough that I was convinced that I could get a decent overall image of the waterfall which I was unable to get last time.  I had the right lens on to get the job done, I just needed to flip the camera on its side to shoot the scene vertical.  I ended up setting the tripod on top of a system of roots from a fallen tree as I stood on a muddy slope.  I didn't fall, and the composition was well worth the uncomfortable shooting position.

For many years, I would stop with this particular angle and turn around to make my return trip.  I have, however, found that there is a lot more that can be done with this waterfall from the other side.  I worked my way around to the other side of the falls, and started to look for compositions.  What I like from this side is that the rocks take on a completely different look.  There are more curves, and the composition becomes more dramatic overall.

A Subtle Sigh
There are clues which will tell you this is the same waterfall, but unless you are expecting it, it is not immediately recognizable.  That is what I like about this composition since this waterfall is photographed so many times every month.  In fact, that is the problem with all waterfalls.  They have all be shot so many times by so many photographers that all of the pictures start looking the same.  I try my best to get something a little different when I go to shoot waterfalls.

Careless Abandon
I have found that this waterfall has a few different isolations that work very well.  With the water flow today, I found that some of my isolations would actually work very well.  I got in close and cropped in tight to the areas that I wanted to capture.  The trick here was to get the textures in addition to the moving water.  I positioned myself so that the brighter parts of the rocks in the background lined up with the main shaft of water.  The idea was to create an optical illusion that the water was pouring from a hole above.  The cascades at the bottom become my foreground and visual anchor.  The composition is simple but effective in getting the viewer to look ever closer to determine exactly what they are looking at.

Heavenly Overlook
Since the rain was starting to get pretty heavy now, I decided to seek a little bit of shelter under the rocky wall where the waterfall originates.  While I was there, I started looking through the waterfall at the overlook just up the hill.  While I normally don't care much for photographing the man made parts of this scene, something just felt right about it.  I was imagining how it would look with the water blurred and just a hint of the overlook in the distance.

I went ahead and set up the shot.  There were a couple of really nice rocks that I was able to use as a foreground.  To close the upper portion of the frame, I included the steeply sloped wall that was providing me cover.  A nice long exposure blurred the water into several distinct shafts which became the focal point of the composition.  Just beyond those streams of silk is the overlook.  It is worth noting that the position of the camera is crucial here as I wanted to keep the stone columns visible and out of the way of the water.  The wooden boards were less important to me, and I wanted to keep the vertical elements going.

Ethereal Gathering
As I was wrapping up, I realized that the rain had let up once again.  I wanted to get one more shot before I left.  I moved out from the cover I was in, and started to inch my way across a large rock that I had been shooting beneath earlier.  With the elevation and perspective, I was able to get the top part of the waterfall in a way that I had no captured it before.  The angle provided enough separation between the streams of water that I could space them out across a vertical frame.  The curve of the rock seemed to embrace the water as if trying to gather the streams.  The first set of cascades below became the lower framing element of the image.

The composition of this shot made this image my favorite of the day.  It had the mood I was after, and the composition was complete with natural framing elements.  I had textures, muted colors, and depth.  Everything really came together well for this shot.  

As you look through these six photographs, keep in mind that there were only two different waterfalls that were shot.  Five of the six are of the same falls, but look nothing alike.  I always consider that a success when I can get multiple images with different personalities from the same subject.  Always look deeper at what is in front of your camera.

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