Now that summer is in full swing, I like to get out in the coolness of the forest and look for waterfalls, or Geocaches. We didn’t get to go out much last year with Ella’s arrival, but we plan to go more this year. I found this falls a couple of years ago with the help from the Waterfalls list at Tennessee Landforms. But every time we went back to photograph it, the gate was closed. As luck would have it, yesterday was the perfect day for us to go. The trail isn’t too bad, but it brings you out at the top of the falls. You will have to navigate down a steep trail to the bottom, but it’s pretty good with plenty of Laurels in ideal locations for hand holds as you hike down to the bottom pool. As always, keep your eye on the little ones. Emily did fine going down, but with pine needles, and loose dirt, it could become slippery. It really is just a short hike from the fire road, so all ages should enjoy the hike.
I recently purchased a Sekonic L-758DR light meter and loaded calibrated profiles for the D700 with each of my lenses. To get this shot, I took a meter reading for the ambiant, then spot metered the highlights and shadow areas of the scene. I know that I have 6 1/4 stops of Dynamic Range with my camera and lens combo from the calibration process, so I found a point where I could keep detail in the shadows, and not blow my highlights too bad. Once I got the capture, I then took it to Lightroom for quick edits and cataloging, then to Photoshop for the heavy edits in pulling out the details in the shadows. Using layer mask along the way, I kept the midtones and highlights in check, but brought out the detail in the rocks to show the moss and sharp edges. Just as the old guys would do in film days with dodging and burning in the darkroom, some images aren’t complete until after postproduction.
I think I am on the right path with visualizing the results using various meter readings before pressing the shutter. In some cases, I am just manually doing what a good matrix or evaluative meter is doing. But with this process, I know exactly what I am up against before pressing the shutter and looking for blinking highlights. I will also know where my shadows are so I can keep detail in them, instead of going pure black. I like the image I got using this method. I believe it has plenty of contrast, and replicates the scene well. In the past I have tried High Dynamic Range with waterfalls and got “ok” results, as seen with this 5 frame HDR of Laurel Falls off Dennis Cove in Carter County. But with the constant flow of water, it brings a breeze to the low lying limbs and leaves. The lite breeze causes ghosting with 3 frames, let alone 7 or 9, for the HDR process. Personally, I would rather have movement blur, over the ghosting, it drives me mad in post! I still like HDR for some captures though. But for waterfalls, I think I will continue to just use a single image. I hope with this practice, my photography will become more deliberate rather than luck, with pre-visualizing the print before the capture. I’ll keep working at it, but still, a little luck never hurts…
As always, thanks for reading, and see you soon.
Capture Info: Nikon D700 and 17-35mm f2.8 AF-S, Really Right Stuff ballhead, Gitzo carbon tripod, shot at 17mm but cropped to around 35 in post, ISO 200, 2 seconds, at f20.