While in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, I had a photograph in mind that I was hoping to capture. A beautiful waterfall in its autumn glory with silken water and golden waves of leaves winding within the water.
Perhaps you know of the images that I seek. Just search waterfall autumn swirl on Flickr and you’ll see many examples of what I’m talking about.
After the mountain hike, the next day I was a bit worn out, but swore I was going to hike down White Oak Canyon to reach a beautiful 86-foot waterfall. I knew this was no small undertaking as you start by heading down the mountain, then all of the return is uphill. A total of nearly 5 miles with 1,200 feet of elevation gain coming home.
So time for a challenge, but most of it was due to my lack of preparation. First, I wore the wrong shoes, left the hikers at home. Second, didn’t pack water. Third, put way too much camera equipment in my backpack. Things I did right? Brought a pair of hiking poles, trail map and cell phone. And, plenty of camera equipment to capture whatever I please.
Took an hour and a half to reach the first overlook of the large waterfalls. By then I was parched and it was nearing mid-day. It didn’t help that when I arrived I saw several horses. Heck ! I could have done it by horseback ! So I took the snapshot that you see above just to say I was there. Then began my slow ascent as I knew it’d take me longer than getting down there.
Now that I’m back home, it was time to try another waterfall. This time easier to access and much smaller. First, travelling much lighter with just the tripod, a pair of filters, and the camera off I went to Patapsco Valley State Park. Over the swinging bridge and along the paved walkway, I ducked through a train underpass to reach the Sawmill trail. Much shorter, I reached a few locations that would be great for what I had in mind.
With a nice cloudy day, I didn’t have to worry about sun highlights coming through the trees, nor super dark shadows. But I missed my hiking poles, and once again, no water. But I knew this was to be a much shorter visit.
Carefully stepping over the wet, moss filled rocks, I positioned myself in front of the small falls. But wait ! It’s missing something. Mainly the leaves that cause the beautiful swirls. It is now that I realize that this really is a two-man job. One sitting with the camera, one throwing leaves into the water at the right moment to create the effect. Either that or a nice remote trigger switch.
Set timer for 10 seconds, position myself and click!
It is a work in progress, but I’m pleased with the initial results.
Now for the technical part: Canon 5D Mark III, EF 16-25mm f/2.8L, Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3. Two filters: Hoya HRT Circular Polarizer 77mm, Hoya Formatt Hard Neutral Density 0.9 Grad SE. Settings: f/22, ISO 100, 4.0 sec.