Tory’s Isolations

· Reading Time: 7 minutes

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

With lots of rain this week and going into work late, I figured that shooting a waterfall might be a pretty good idea this morning.  The weather was right for it with deep, low clouds and even a little bit of mist here and there.  The trick was finding somewhere I could go that wouldn’t take too long since I needed to be at work around 10.  That pretty much limited me to Hanging Rock which was about 40 or so minutes away from home, and an hour from work.  That would give me enough time to do a little working of the scene.

Tory’s Character

My day started at about 5am, and I was on the road around 6.  I could have gone into the park itself and shot any number of the five waterfalls accessible from the main parking lot, but I’ve been happy with the images I’ve shot there.  The one that I have been wanting to do a little more work with has been Tory’s Falls which is outside of the park on Charlie Young Rd.  This waterfall is the tallest in the park, but is also the one that needs high volume water flow to really present well.  Most of the time I have shot this, there has been but a trickle and that has been disappointing.  With several heavy downpours in the area I was hopeful for a little different look at this waterfall.

The hike wasn’t long at all, in fact, I think it was just 0.2 mile from the parking area, and it took me about five minutes to get there.  When I first saw the waterfall, I was not all that excited as the volume of water wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.  Regardless, it was better than previous times, and for what I was wanting to do, it was fine.

I’ve shot this waterfall many times and have included the entire setting, and moved into isolations before.  I would really enjoy another opportunity to shoot the entire scene with a wider angle lens, but unfortunately the trees have gotten a little overgrown in the foreground, and another tree has started to infringe on the top of the waterfall.  I just can’t get the view I really want for a wide angle shot.  On the other hand, the sections that I like to work as isolations were perfectly clear and visible.

Textures in Paradise

Like I mentioned, I have shot isolations here in the past.  For this, I have used my 70-200mm lens racked out to 200mm.  This waterfall is a good distance away from the closest platform that you can shoot from which means that even at 200mm, I’m getting a pretty broad view of the waterfall.  Something that I had not tried before was using my 2x extender on the long lens which effectively makes it a 140-400mm lens.  This was the combination that I chose to use, and I added a B&W polarizer.  I didn’t go with my Color Combo because the colors that were there were super saturated already with the spray from the water.  The Color Combo would likely put those colors over the top for what I was wanting to capture.  After mounting the camera on the tripod, I started to move inch by inch looking for the right angle to get the shots I was wanting.

It was actually quite different looking at this waterfall through the eyes of a 400mm lens.  I could pick out detail shots within the detail shots I had done before.  The water flow was really good for these shots as well.  With the deep clouds and low light, I was able to keep a sharp aperture of f/16 and still shoot with a 20-30 second shutter speed.  Normally, I don’t like to go that long, but it really worked to create a mist where the cascades were dropping.  That was just the effect I was going for, and it worked out great!

Refreshing Steps

I shot about 20 different compositions focusing on different aspects of the waterfall but seemed to come back to the same sections over and over.  The orange stones and green moss were just the perfect splashes of color for the scene.  In fact, I had gone planning on shooting black and white isolations, but after seeing how the color really helped the image, I left them all as full color.

I would have stayed a bit longer and tried a different lens, but it was starting to rain.  Since I had shot this waterfall many times with my other lenses I figured there was nothing really new to gain.  I packed things up and started back to the car so I could maybe do a little rural exploration on the way to work.  When I got to the fork in the trail, the rain had let up a little bit.  I opted to continue on to Tory’s Den to see what I could do with it.

I’ve tried to shoot the den several times in the past but have never been quite satisfied with the outcome.  Mostly, I had problems with the sky being overexposed, or the shadows being too deep inside.  The compositions had been lackluster as well.  Since I was here and had time, I thought I would give it a try once again just to see what I could come up with.

Lost Souls

When I completed the very short hike to the den I found that the light was pretty good with just a touch of warmth.  I looked at what I had to work with and decided that I would go for the gusto and fit my 16-35mm lens.  I started to work compositions that showed the entire cave and the forest around it.  I even included the stairs to the left.  For these, I opted to fit a 3-stop ND Grad to control the sky, but in the end, I didn’t like the light gray of the clouds behind the trees.  It was just too contrasty, and pulled the eyes away from the actual cave.  The shot that I found that I liked the best was a simple one that I needed no filters for.  I had gotten in close, and racked the lens out to 16mm to really accentuate the foreground rocks, as well as the shape of the cave.  There was enough even light that you could even see some detail in the back of the cave, but that was just enough to capture the imagination of what was in there.  From this angle, the cave actually started to look like a spade, which I thought added to the geometric appearance of the image.  It was the foreground rocks that really made this image pop though, and I am pretty sure that this is my favorite image of the den that I have ever shot.

As I was working the den, the rain returned, and I decided it was time to get in the car and start looking on the back roads for additional subjects.  I took the scenic way to work, and found a few more locations that were pretty good for pictures, but all of them would have required permission from the property owners to make the images work.  I didn’t have time for that kind of conversation so I decided to take notes of what and where so that I could return later and do the subjects justice.  At least I have a direction for my next rural session.

At the end of the day, I had a total of 30 frames captured.  As I started to weed out the shots I didn’t want, I realized that my favorites were all of the same section of the waterfall, so I really worked on finding the best compositions to actually process.  I found three of those that I thought were really strong images.  With the cave, I reduced the 10 frames down to just one which captured the essence of the cave without the distracting elements that I had been dealing with.

It was a short day, with only an hour and a half in the park shooting.  I had another 45 minutes of successful scouting as well.  With that it was time to go to work.  It would be the following day before I could get the images edited and ready to go on the Internet.  I am not a fan of waiting this long to go through the pictures, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.