Posts tagged “river

Black River Scenic Byway

The Upper Peninsula. The U.P. for short. It’s attached to Wisconsin, but it’s part of Michigan. That’s ok. Who could Wisconsans make fun of if not for Yoopers? Lol.

The Black River Scenic Byway starts about 2 hours north of where I live and is an easy drive. Even if you’re coming from further away it’s worth the trip. You can see about 1/2 dozen falls in just a few miles of road and with very little hiking. Be prepared for a lot of stairs though! Boy were my calves sore after all that up and down. It was worth the pain and I only ended up bailing on one set of falls – Rainbow at the end. There’s just no good way to shoot them from the platform. Shame because they are impressive as hell. Maybe there’s a way to get to the other side. I see from the map that there is a road on the other side of the river, but I’m not sure there’s a trail system. I will have to investigate for another trip.

They plunged from sight

Although it was a perfect day for this kind of photography (overcast, bright, not too windy) I had a couple of things go wrong on me. First was my tripod – it has a removable center column which I put back on and realized the gasket on the inside of the tripod that keeps the column tight was incorrectly placed. This made the post itself too loose to be stable and sometimes it would sink a little under the weight of the camera (as little as that is). Ugh. Be sure you check your gear at home and know how it is supposed to operate and how to fix it if it isn’t working right. After I got home I tackled the problem and solved it. It didn’t take long, just needed a bit of concentration on the task.

And of course the height of the railings around viewing platforms was just at the height of the camera on the tripod without the center column. Precisely why I wanted to use the dumb thing to begin with. So I couldn’t use it much on the platforms and ended up hand-holding more than I usually do with this kind of thing. I did manage to use the same railings to brace myself so I had some leeway in exposure settings.

Gorge falls

Another thing against me was the limited view of the falls for many of them on this river. It’s part of the Ottawa National Forest and so has sturdy, wooden viewing areas, walkways and stairs that let you see the falls at least, but make it difficult to be creative with photography. You can basically take one view of each. But hey, at least we get to see them. Without the platforms it would be impossible or just too dangerous because the banks are so steep.

Black River Gorge

Funny though. I think forcing me to handhold a lot of shots made me appreciate the change in how the images came out. Too many times I think we get stuck in photographic ruts. As I mentioned in my previous post about Ripley Creek, the soft, silky water thing can get overplayed. Water presents so many looks and moods that we shouldn’t forget that the camera can capture those just as well. I also love the contrast between the tannic water and the snow.

Potawatomi Falls

In addition to making sure my tripod is in working order, I learned another lesson on this trip. Don’t buy crappy gear. If you need a piece of kit, buy the best you can afford. It’s better than having to buy it twice even if you have to go without while you save up. Also, don’t do what I did and think that your photography isn’t worth the best gear. I don’t mean to say that you should buy whatever you want even if you can’t afford it, but money aside, don’t discount your work so easily. I ran my work down over different items, saying to myself that I wasn’t a professional or making money with my photographs so why did I need something so grand. I ended up having to buy things over again which was more a waste than if I’d just bought the good stuff I longed for to begin with. Plus I’d have had a better time with my photography instead of being frustrated and ruining shots.

This time I’m talking about my neutral density filter. It was too bright to do long exposures without it and unfortunately instead of buying a good set, I bought a variable type. This works by sandwiching two pieces of glass together and rotating them to block the light coming into the camera. Sounds good, but damn it can really screw with the shot as illustrated by these two images –

Example 1

A little twist and look at the corners now.

Example 2

I noticed it in the field and had to settle for shorter shutter speeds than I wanted because of it. After this frustrating experience, I broke down and got myself a good one. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson with the polarizer after finally ditching the cheap one for something better. Both of mine are the same lovely German brand and I wish I’d not wasted money on cheaper ones.

Sandstone Falls

Yes, I did manage to fix the problems in Lightroom, but I’d rather have avoided them altogether. It might be a cliche, but you get what you pay for is true. I should write a post about my mistakes with this and photography. It would be long.

Emotional sabbat

As I mentioned above, I found a bit of freedom by coming off the tripod and playing with compositions and shutter speed. Lucky it was bright enough to handhold a lot of shots without resorting to high ISO settings and I had some fun on the frozen rocks below the falls. Also good that I remembered to bring my boot spikes because without them it would have been too slippery and dangerous to get out into the river where I have the most fun. I just love a raging river, don’t you?

Fleeting recollection

Because I’d driven a longish way to visit this area, I made the most of my time and explored side trails whenever possible. One led me upriver from Sandstone Falls, the only falls I could get to in an intimate way on this trip. I just LOVE exploring rivers. Both on land and in the kayak. The lure of what’s around the next bend is what does it. The changing landscape, the possibility of something new and astonishing. It’s wonderful and boy, did I get an eyeful of that on the Black River. There are lots of stairs here for a reason – the banks are steep. Check this out –

Loud and frenetic

Wow is that ever cool. Look at the log in the lower left – it shows the angle of the bank. Wicked steep. And the trail just here is about a foot wide. I just love nature in all its power and glory. A little further up are some rapids at a sharp bend. Not exactly photogenic on this trip because I couldn’t get down onto some rocks that would make a great vantage point, but that can be for my next trip.

 


The draw-down

Up here on the Wisconsin river are a bunch of things called flowages. A flowage is a section of river blocked by two dams; one up and one down river. With the flow restricted the water acts more like a lake. There is a slight current all the time on the one I live on, but it’s nothing like how fast the water rushes below the dam where there isn’t another close by to slow it down. But dams need maintenance sometimes and what’s the power company to do?

They let out enough water to get the job done. It’s called a draw down. The dam up river from us is called the Grandmother dam and the flowage it creates is called the Grandmother flowage. To repair the dam (which makes power for the electric company) they lowered the water by some 14 feet, which made for some interesting landscapes –

Hope shattered

I had no idea this was going on since the water level below the dam (and behind the house) wasn’t affected. By chance my husband and I happened to stop just to check out the dam since we hadn’t been there in a while. Well, he hadn’t, I padded there twice in spring. Lo and behold there was barely a trickle running through. The tree stumps with their exposed roots knocked me out and I made a mental note to go up there on a foggy or cloudy day.

Dispossession

I hoped for more fog, but since there wasn’t much water, there wasn’t much fog. They were letting water back in though and so there is more than there was when I first saw it. In any event, normally both of these stumps are under 3-4 feet of water at any given time. The current keeps the roots clear of mud and debris and I just loved how they looked.

I didn’t love the washed out, blah look of the shots out of the camera though, so I played with some presets to give things a bit more drama. Usually I process for realism, but this time I did so with an eye to an apocalyptic scene. Some ravaged landscape, irretrievably lost and ruined. I don’t know if it succeeded, but I like it.


Two near disasters and coping with direct sun

In NH part of the Appalachian Trail snakes through the state and Vermont has the Long Trail, but here in Wisconsin there is the Ice Age trail. It isn’t contiguous, but runs for 1200 miles and is a nationally recognized natural resource. It’s taken decades of persistent land conservation, but today there are dozens of trailheads in dozens of counties. I probably won’t hike all of it or even most of it, but I have gone out to explore some already.

Each trail is divided into named segments and they’re all mapped, signed and blazed fairly well. The section in this post is not far from my house, just a mile or so down river below the Grandfather Dam which makes power using penstocks. These things –

Crazy, what? Water from behind the dam is forced into these wooden tubes and regulated by the tanks you see in the background. Turbines get turned and the power plant, just out of shot to the left, sends power into the grid. It’s loud and wet and a bit nerve-wracking to be near them, but it’s the best and quickest way to get to the trail head, so that’s where I started. And no, that’s not one of the disasters. The penstocks are still holding! And the dam didn’t let water go either so I wasn’t caught in a flood (they do sound a siren warning though).

Being so close to the Wisconsin River, it basically follows the shoreline and what used to be the shoreline, but is now forest –

It’s a little hard to make out, but the darker area of the boulder there is concave; worn smooth by dozens and dozens of years of water surging and swirling. All of the rocks in the river are like this and are really interesting to see up close, which luckily you can do most times of the year.

Before I get to that here’s a little warning. Stay alert out there. Sometimes I’m guilty of being a bit too focused on my photography; the surroundings, composing, the light, the wonder of nature. All of it can be really absorbing. Not to mention I listen to audio books quite a bit when I’m out there. I can still hear sounds in my environment, but it’s one more thing my mind has to process other than what’s right around me.

So I’m standing there with the tripod, waiting for the sun to get blocked by a cloud a bit. I’m backing up, reframing, recomposing. Backing up again. I’ve got the remote shutter cable, a polarizer and other stuff. And what’s that? What’s with all these bees? No. Wait. Not bees. Hornets. Big ones. Whizzing around. They’re kind of all over the place.  Uh oh.

Yeah. That’s a bald-faced hornets nest bigger than my head. And it was about 20 feet behind me about 15 feet off the ground. No wonder there was practically a cloud of them. Dopey me just backing right into their territory. Yup, yup, yo.

I got right the hell out of there. Wide berth. Easy gait. Nothing too fast or jarring. Didn’t want to freak them out and send them after me. At home I looked at a close up of that shot and you can see a bunch of hornets right in the mouth of the nest. The thing is full of them. A pinata of venomous fun.

Ok, so note to self. Be careful. Be aware. Sigh. Good intentions. I really need to listen to my own advice.

So before I get to that, a word on sunlight and managing it in photos. Who wants to go out on cloudy days all the time, or confine your photos to just the golden hours at opposite ends of the day? Oh sure, they’re great, but learning to cope with direct sun can be really helpful during, you know, the rest of the day. And sometimes it can even help.

For me, the forest shot above wouldn’t work nearly as well if there wasn’t sunlight in it. It brings out the texture of that boulder so that you can see the carved nature of it. It shows depth as well, emphasizing the layers of the trees. I did soften the image in post though, bringing the highlights down and easing off on the contrast. Other techniques I use with dappled sunlight is to lower the luminance of certain colors if they seem to ‘hot’. Yellow and red often go off the charts with digital photography, so managing the color sliders can help tone those down.

It can help with direct sun as well. A beautiful day like this one is tough to shoot in. The shadows are harsh and the glare intense. Start with a polarizer. It can do a couple of things; reduce the glare on shiny surfaces like leaves and rocks, and also bring up reflections. The thing is that to do one it has to do the other less well. That’s where you luminance slider can help. This is not saturation!! That’s a different value.

For this image I really wanted to concentrate the polarizer’s effect on the reflection. That’s something you just can’t reproduce in post-production, at least not without a lot of work. It’s much easier to do it in the field. Then with software reduce the lightness of the colors that aren’t as affected by the polarizer. For this image it was the trees and the rocks. Using this technique leaves your overall whites and highlights where they are which is important for clouds!

Little scenes can benefit from a polarizer as well. The moss here was reflecting a good deal of light and so I reduced it with a polarizer and the green is lush and deep. You may have to use exposure compensation to get the exposure back where you want it, but once you get used to working with it, it’s second nature.

Inocybe geophylla

Another tool I’ve been using lately is a physical thing and not a processing technique. Recently I bought a collapsible diffuser (finally!) to make my own shade. I’ve been meaning to for ages, but just never have. Now I have a 12-inch model that folds down to about 4 inches and is very useful for diffusing light on or around my subject as well as creating reflected light. This coupled with some of the Lightroom techniques above have improved the overall look of my images. I used a combination of all of the methods I’ve mentioned for the following shots –

Boletus subglabripes

All the field and processing techniques don’t mean a thing if you can’t get the shot in the first place. Whether it be you that’s all busted or your camera. Or in my case both.

While making my way across a small feeder stream, the big, flat rock I stepped on tilted. Sharply. Throwing me straight down onto my butt and tripod with camera attached. Into the drink it went and damn if my ankle didn’t hurt, too. My first thought, of course, was for the gear. A quick look and I saw that the front of the lens was fine. Wet, but undamaged. The lens cap did its job and I fished it out of the water and gave it a shake.

A whole bunch of things saved my bacon with this little tumble. First is my lifelong habit of replacing the lens cap between takes. It might seem silly or a pain, but it literally saved my lens and/or filter this time. And given that it’s a really nice B&W filter, I’d have been bummed to have to replace it. Better than the $1200 lens, but still. Spendy. So I tells ya – put that lenscap on, you never know.

The other thing is that I fell uphill. The stream was flowing down a slope and so in crossing I fell upstream instead of downstream which was lucky. And that my lens and camera are weather-sealed. A quick dunk in very shallow water is something it’s designed to take. And it did. Yay for magnesium camera bodies, too!! A quick wipe down to remove some debris and water droplets and it was good to go.

The last thing I was immediately grateful for was that I didn’t have the Olympus 90mm macro on the camera. That might not have worked out so well. Yeah, it’s a tank and I always put the cap back on it, too, but it isn’t weather proof and it’s old. Almost irreplaceable. Sure they come up on eBay now and again, but not often. So glad it was in my bag. No one wants to see a grown woman cry.

The tripod did well, too. It’s scratched up on one leg, but I think of it as a battle scar not a blemish.

So that’s my tale of near woe. Almost stung to death by hornets, but escaped at the last minute only to fall on my butt and put my oh-so-precious gear in harms way. But wait! Good habits pay off and there’s no damage, except to my pride.


Contoocook River

Several weeks ago, I bought myself a kayak. I’ve wanted one for years, but never bought one. Sure, I’d paddled a couple of times with other people’s boats, but never owned one. Now I do it’s allowing me a new way to engage with nature and my photography. Here it is – a Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 (12 foot, recreation boat) –

What goes better with a Subaru than a kayak?

At first I didn’t really dare to bring my camera with me, but I have worked up some skill and some confidence, so I’ve begun to bring it with me when I’m out. Of course the first time I brought it, I forgot to put the memory card back in. Doh! In a way it was funny. Still had my iPhone with me though, so all wasn’t lost. Here’s the Powwow river –

Clouds over the Powwow river

So on my next outing, I remembered the memory card! Again, I chose a slow-moving river, this time the Contoocook which is a really pretty river and because it’s dammed quite a bit, a lot of it is great for quiet-water paddling. For most of the day, I kept the GH3 in a drybag, but then toward the end of my session, I kept it on my lap. It got splashed, but since it’s weatherproof, it doesn’t matter. I may not keep it there going forward, but for a quiet river it was fine. When I really had to paddle hard into the wind and chop, I put it back in the drybag. This first one is from a side channel I explored for a bit. It got narrow at one point, but I paddled through and look at what I found –

Backwater

Isn’t it amazing? Without a kayak, I’d have never seen it. I sat for a while, just floating and soaking up the atmosphere. It was a bit like a fairy story – an enchanted pool or magic glade. Dragonflies and damselflies kept me company. On my way back out to the main channel, I turned back to catch these ferns in the sunlight. I wish there’d been a bit of cloud cover to soften the harsh sunlight, but I still like the way they’re lit up. And the reflection.

Soaking it in

Paddling upstream didn’t yield any keepers, but drifting down current did. I would drift for a bit and try for compositions  on the bank. The light and the ferns kept me shooting. And the reflections are just a bonus.

Promenade

Bright sun isn’t the best light for photography, but I think it can be managed if you’ve got strong, colorful subject and balance to your composition. I drifted into some pickerelweed and kind of sat for bit, hunting a good shot. I’m pretty happy with this since it illustrates the perfection of the day –

Azure Interlude

This section of the Contoocook is dammed to make the Powder Mill pond and part of the joy of paddling here is going under this gorgeous covered bridge. I couldn’t resist shooting it (with a couple paddlers underneath) even though it’s a New England cliche, could you have kept the camera down?

Hancock-Greenfield covered bridge

So that’s my first full day on the water with the camera. I’m not 100% into a groove or routine, so I forgot my polarizer and binoculars, but overall I think I’m getting into the swing of it. I’ve started a new category here on the blog for future kayak posts. More water adventures to come!


Step into the past

A couple of years ago, when I first saw photos of Royalston Falls in Royalston, MA, I knew I had to go see them for myself. For the longest time I thought they were on the Tully river, but it turns out that the watercourse is actually Falls Brook. Original, huh? Hey, I didn’t name it. If I did it would probably be something like Amazing Time-traveling Waterway of Antiquity. Catchy, huh? I think I’ve posted shots of the falls before, but what the heck, they’re gorgeous so why not show them again?

Fall Royalston Falls

A sign says that the drop is fifty feet. It goes straight down into a round gorge. Looking at it, you can imagine the other courses the water took to carve the whole thing. It literally inspires awe. You can’t help but go silent when you first see it. Even though the falls is the star of the show, the supporting cast is exciting, too. That would be Falls Brook itself. Well, maybe not exactly, but the way the water has shaped the rock it flows through is wondrous. It’s almost like you’ve gone to Middle Earth or something. Intriguing shapes and surprising formations are literally around every bend.

Immemorial

Primeval isn’t it? You can’t tell by looking at that one, but right there at the end of the shot…that big rock formation is actually an arch. An arch!! Over a brook in New Hampshire. Well, it might still be Massachusetts, the border is right around here. Just look. It’s fantastic. You should have heard me laughing the whole time I shot. I couldn’t help it. Joy just bubbles up in this place and it needs a place to go.

The Arch over Falls Brook – an arch!!!

Isn’t that the coolest thing? I’ve walked a lot of brooks around here, but never saw one of these before. Other than getting into that pool (who knows how deep it really is), I couldn’t find a better way to shoot it, unfortunately. The water doesn’t flow under it strongly anymore, it’s carved a new route just on the other side of the rock. Now it just pools there, making a nice hangout for frogs, one of which was a few feet from me while I shot. Green frogs are so friendly.

The rock formations are incredible and the contortions the water goes through to flow are challenging to photograph. To the eye, many of them are imposing and mysterious, but they don’t necessarily translate to 2D. Some did though. Not only did I have to get the tripod into the water (and my feet), but I also had to move a really big branch out of this shot. Any bigger and I doubt I could have done it, but I did and it really helped focus the composition.

Beyond Reckoning

The whole place is tough to photograph, but absolutely engrossing to be in. Thinking about the thousands of years it took for the water to carve the gorges is pretty humbling. Geologic time just laughs at us biologicals. I did a lot of rock scrambling and wish I could have reached this one gargantuan boulder with a fantastic view of another amphitheater of rock. The falls are gone now, but you can imagine what they were like. Earthquakes even more powerful than the one the other day must have really changed things up over the millennia. I climbed on the other side of it on top of an outcrop like the ones below and just sat and listened to the water and thought about how ancient this waterway is. One of these days, when the light is more cooperative, I’ll have to find a way to shoot it. It’s pretty jaw-dropping.

Cliff Walk over Falls Brook

It goes on and on like that. I only hiked a couple hours down there, but I think I’ll go back in winter. Maybe after the first snow if it’s just a light one.

Anyway, when I was done there, I decided to check out another set of falls which are truly gorgeous (and with bonus stone arch bridge), but like the Royalston Falls, they are barricaded and compositional choices are quite limited. I did a little exploring on the other side though and there’s good reason for the barricades and the re-routed trail. The gorge face is crumbling and collapsing. Even where it’s stable, its wicked steep. Impressive though.

Doane’s Falls

Not the most autumnal images ever, but the magic of Falls Brook more than makes up for it.


Piscataquog: Middle Branch

I’d been meaning to get back here since the first time I explored this little swatch of conservation land.  It contains the middle branch of the Piscataquog river and has some interesting aspects to it like a pond and some defunct bridges.  Unfortunately the light wasn’t overly cooperative and when the sun came out I had to pack it in.  While it lasted though, I got some decent images and I think they show why this river is so special.

For this first one I had to dodge poison ivy, a pretty regular thing in these parts.  The bank is high and steep and I liked the vantage point.  At the very back of the shot, the river takes an abrupt turn, just like the one in the very front of the shot.  A zig-zag.  It’s pretty great.  The ferns in the foreground (and some of the rest of the greenery) are royal fern and I just had to use them to frame the shot.

If you stayed at this position, you could have watched me take this next shot.  It’s looking back this way from just in front of that bend down there.  I loved the juxtaposition of the dead tree and the live, bendy tree and so I got in the river to frame them together.  The ferns on the banks are a combination of royal and what looked like cinnamon fern, although I didn’t really look closely for the cinnamon-y spore stalks.  Might have been interrupted fern which is of a similar height and leaf structure.

A neat feature of this property is the old mill pond that is now semi-dammed by beavers instead of humans.  The trail actually includes the beaver dam and you have to walk along it.  The pond helps to create a slightly different habitat for local color.

Pickerelweed

Common water snake

Cardinal flower

Not all of the trail around the pond is so accommodating, but there are some helpful walkways and bridges.  The light wasn’t good enough to shoot the pond itself, but it was terrific for adding much needed depth to the woodland trail.  Just back beyond those dark trees, I scared a deer half to death.  Sorry deer!

If this entices you to get out into the woods – go!  And if you’re in southern NH, you can get a map of this bit of the world here – Middle Branch map.  When you get there, be kind, be responsible, pick up other people’s trash (and don’t leave any yourself) and enjoy reconnecting with nature.


Waterfalls and Wildflowers

Crazy, huh?  Spring is so…springy.  The two Ws are just irresistible – wildflowers and waterfalls. I’ve shot these particular falls before, but after a big storm knocked branches and whole trees down so the cascades were a mess.  When I saw fellow photographer Jeff Newcomer’s recent post about Garwin falls, I saw they were clear and that I’d have to copy his composition.  I didn’t copy his processing though; sepia is something I don’t often do, but this time it seemed a great choice.  There was color in the shot, but not like the side view and so I processed it differently.  Ditto with the long view.  I wanted to see if I could warm it up some and still make it believable.  If I were presenting these as a set, I’d process them all the same, but since I’m not I didn’t.  These are my rules, I make ’em up.  : )

Rampaging Somewhere

This is the part of the falls you can’t see in the shot up there.  It’s behind the ledge on the left.  The brook sort of curves around it,  making it damn hard to photograph.  I brought my knee-high muck boots and got in the water just once since it was deeper and faster than I remembered.

Separate Lives

Wending Down

And now for the wildflowers part of our show.  First up, painted trillium.  I’ve shot them before, but just look at ’em.  Could you resist?  Just before I put this shot together I made a couple images in a standard sort of way and liked them well enough, but thought they were kinda repetitive.  So I took the camera off the tripod and set it on a nearby stump and lo, this composition came together.  I just love the intimacy of it and those drops off the leaves are such a bonus.  Ah the forest after rain.

A Grand Gesture

Look what else is blooming – wild geranium!  There were scads of it nearer the coast in a couple of spots and even though it was hanging out with tons of poison ivy, I had to try for some images.  The one I had in my catalog was sheer crap so I braved the ivy and got one that doesn’t suck.

These are challenging to shoot in a couple ways.  First is that like a lot of other flowers, the least little breeze makes them wave around like they’re doing some mad dance.  Waiting for the lull is the worst part of shooting them.  I swear that poison ivy was inching toward me angling for a pounce.  The second thing is getting the color right.  Try as I might, I couldn’t quite get it right in camera with a white balance setting.  They were too blue or too orange.  So I set it close and then processed by memory.  These next ones had a similar problem although they are a different shade of pink.  I’d never seen them before and found out that they’re an introduced species from Europe.  Pretty little things though.  They were in a river flood plain and I took a zillion shots to get one that worked.  Oh that wind!  It conspires against me.  LOL.

Ragged Robin (what a strange name for a flower)

Anyway, that’s it for now.  I have a few more flower shots, but I haven’t processed them yet so they’ll have to hang fire for a bit.  Hope you all can get out and enjoy the bounty of spring, too.


The Mighty Piscataquog

The Piscataquog is my favorite river.  I know, weird, huh?  It’s an important waterway not only for people, but for many animals and plants that thrive in the ancient glacial habitats along its course. It has 3 branches (north, middle and south), runs for 57 miles with little interruption and its name translates from a local Indian dialect as The Great Deer Place or The Place for Many Deer.

Over the last couple hundred years, many local towns have sprung up on its banks using its regular and forceful flow to power mills, one of which is said to have been the very first shoe factory in the United States.   Only remnants remain and much of the land around the 3 branches is officially protected. Each branch has unique geological features which I’m exploring as a project of sorts.

This is the only gorge so far as I can tell and unfortunately most of it is covered in no trespassing signs so I didn’t explore where it was prohibited.  I hope someday easements can be granted to allow hikers and of course, photographers.  : )  It is on the south branch and is on the border of two towns – Lyndeborough and New Boston.

Under High Bridge

The bridge in this shot used to connect the two ends of High Bridge road, but is now unsafe as the decking has rotted and there are many holes and the iron supports have rusted to lace in some spots. When a horse put its foot through in the mid 1990s, the bridge closed and has remained so. There is a project underway to raise funds for its restoration, but they have a long way to go.  Further downstream is another set of gentle falls as well –

South Falls

Over the coming months I hope to continue to explore different branches of the Piscataquog.  I already have a few scouted and am waiting for some ferns to grow in, etc.  There are some flood areas called eskers I want to try to locate as well, so hopefully you will like what’s to come as I explore.


Waterfall weekend

This year we’ve had so much rain that the waterfalls are still flowing mightily.  Strange for this time of year when most streams, rivers and brooks are quite low.  Makes for some fantastic photography though and of course I was out there.

This is Mill Brook.  Yeah, original huh?  There is still a semi-active mill on this waterway, but most of them are gone (there are remnants of one just upstream and across the road from here).  This section is just before an old reservoir where the dam has been breached.  I wished I could have gotten into the water for this, but it was way too deep and fast for that.  So I clung to the bank and did the best I could.

Before the Dam

Farther downstream on Mill brook are the massive and difficult to photograph Garwin Falls.  I’m by no means the first photographer down there and it has been photographed in a more classic way than I have here, but I was interested in trying to interpret the falls differently.  They’re quite wide and actually curve, with tons of trees both upright and blown down by the Halloween Noreaster we got.  Also, the far bank is private property.  I could have trespassed, but I don’t ever want to be ‘that asshole’ if you know what I mean.  This first shot is just before the water plunges down the ledge.  I loved the little bridge I found.  No way in hell was I going to step on it.  Oh to be young again and indestructible.

You first

Just after the first drop, it turns a bit and I stood the tripod on top of a huge boulder and aimed it down.  The curvy log there I thought would make a great leading line and the angle is pretty trippy.  I don’t think I’ve seen the falls shot from here.

Salvador's Angle

A little further down the falls I found a big beech tree that had recently come down.  I carefully walked partway down a big slab of granite and shot from the side.  It’s another strange angle, but I like it.  That bit of direct sunlight in the trees in the back is pretty sweet.  I didn’t have much more time left though since the clouds were burning off and the sun was getting higher.

The Fall

Now let’s leave New Hampshire and go to Massachusetts and Royalston falls; a very accessible and dramatic waterfall.  The river itself winds through dense woods and has carved some very impressive gorges over the thousands of years its been flowing through here.

Tully River

I wished I could have spent some more time exploring and looking for unique compositions, but with the daylight hours being so short this time of year, I went right onto the falls.

Royalston Falls - the big drop

The gorge is amazing and almost as impressive as the water.  I got to thinking about the thousands of years it took to carve the rocks and how the course of the water has changed.  It is as close to eternal as I think it gets; it’s old and doesn’t care about us and what we do.  We might dam it for a while, but when we’re gone it will flow on.  Makes you feel so small and insignificant.  In a good way though; minimalizing my own existence has never frightened me.  What did frighten me a bit was the terrain and how treacherous would have been without a sturdy fence being there.  It did somewhat limit compositional possibilities, but I didn’t mind.  For this shot I put the tripod out beyond the fence though.  It’s about a 50 foot drop down.

The Plunge

After seeing the Royalston Falls I wanted to check out two more, but only had enough light for one.  It’s the massive, astonishing and incredibly difficult to photograph Spirit Falls.  I’m pretty sure this is also on a branch of the Tully river and isn’t far from the Royalston Falls.  It went for hundreds of feet through thick forest and dropped hundreds of feet as well.  The roar was so constant and so loud it was all-enveloping.  I poked around a bit, but I’d need hours and hours to find views and segments for photos.   It went down much further into a very large floodplain that was gorgeous from the couple of vistas on the top of Jacob’s Hill.

Spirit Falls

Well, that’s it for now.  I don’t have much planned in the way of shooting.  Brown stick season is well and truly here and so nothing springs immediately to mind.  Hopefully it won’t last long.

 


More Fall Favorites

Some from a nearby apple orchard.  I particularly liked the juxtaposition of these two.  Plus the light was great!

What Might Have Been

NH Apples

Some watery views from my hike up Mt. Hale this past weekend.  The light was direct sun and rather harsh and contrasty, so I did the best I could  –

Little River Window

TSF