Tight Compositions at Dismal Falls, Virginia

December 24, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

The winter in the southeast can be a real bummer!  It seems like everything looks grey for 6 months or so, with only a brief shot of snow here and there.   And since my desire to be outside and taking photos transcends any weather or time of year, I headed to Dismal Falls to shoot tight compositions(basically photos that aren't reliant on any color in the forest:)

Dismal Falls WaterfallDismal Falls WaterfallLocated near Dublin and Bland Virginia, Dismal falls is a small cascading waterfall with a nice big swimming hole.

I figured a few factors would be working in my favor to photograph the falls. The first, was that we have had a bit of a drizzle lately, which means the falls would be flowing more than the winter normal(read normal as 'very little').  The second would be the temperature.  While most Virginia residents see mid-30's temps as cold, I see them as not cold enough to freeze waterfalls!  Now, I love a frozen waterfall as much as the next guy, but I really was just wanting to photograph water splashing down the rock ledges at the falls.  And I got exactly what I wanted... no ice, and not too much or too little flow.

The gear I used today is as follows...

Pentax K3

Pentax SMC DA* 60-250mm f/4

Hoya Polarizer

Induro Alloy 8M Tripod AT-413

Giottos MH1000-652 Large Ball Head

The Pentax and lens are a bit new to me, and so far I have loved using both, but the jury is still out!  I really love wide angle photography, and unfortunately there just isn't a super wide lens that is as good as the lenses from other camera companies.  But Pentax apparently has a new one on the roadmap, so I am interested to see what they produce.  That said, I have REALLY enjoyed the DA* 60-250.  The range on this lens is awesome, and it is very sharp and contrasty.   I used it exclusively for this set of images.

I digress...

Dismal Falls is located near Highway 42 in between Highway 100 and Bland Virginia.  Turn on Wilderness Rd, then Dismal Creek Rd, and you can't miss it.  Oh and btw, the Wilderness Rd is also highway 606 if this helps.

Dismal Falls WaterfallDismal Falls WaterfallLocated near Dublin and Bland Virginia, Dismal falls is a small cascading waterfall with a nice big swimming hole.

This is a REALLY AWESOME fall for this type of photography.  There are lots of different compositions available, and quite a few different places to set your camera.  If you have waders, or are willing to get wet, you open up a whole different set of available compositions.   If you have room in your car, it is a good idea to always have a set of waders with you!  That way, when situations like this arise, you can go wherever you need.  If the weather is warm, just bring sandals and walk on through! 

Dismal Falls WaterfallDismal Falls WaterfallLocated near Dublin and Bland Virginia, Dismal falls is a small cascading waterfall with a nice big swimming hole.

My eyes were drawn to the little 'stairstep' many times during the shoot.  I took a series of images to get it just right for my taste.  I really wanted to get one where the stairs were void of water, I felt that this would draw more attention to them.

Dismal Falls WaterfallDismal Falls WaterfallLocated near Dublin and Bland Virginia, Dismal falls is a small cascading waterfall with a nice big swimming hole.

On the right side of the falls, there is a big wall where the water runs down over the rocks.  It catches on these ledges and 'bounces' down.  With the crop sensor and telephoto lens, I was able to get a really tight composition of a couple ledges.  

One of the best parts of digital photography is getting instant results, and being able to compare images in the field.  Below, you can see where I made a minor exposure time adjustment and changed the image completely.  First, with a bit of a long exposure... 

Dismal Falls WaterfallDismal Falls WaterfallLocated near Dublin and Bland Virginia, Dismal falls is a small cascading waterfall with a nice big swimming hole.

Now, shortening the exposure to about 1/4 of a second, much more detail was captured in the water.  After some consideration, I chose the bottom one as my favorite of the two.  I just love how much more 'action' is caught in the water.

Dismal Falls WaterfallDismal Falls WaterfallLocated near Dublin and Bland Virginia, Dismal falls is a small cascading waterfall with a nice big swimming hole.

You can really spend a lot of time shooting these falls.  As the sky got a little darker, I headed for home.  I shot one more photo through an opening in some trees.  I like how the evergreens contrast against all the leafless trees, with fog coming in from the top.

Dismal Falls WaterfallDismal Falls WaterfallLocated near Dublin and Bland Virginia, Dismal falls is a small cascading waterfall with a nice big swimming hole.

Have a Merry Christmas!

 


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