“Swirling Fork Falls” – Great Smoky Mountains National Park
I have just returned home from 8 days of shooting and leading a Photo Workshop in the Great Smoky Mountains. Over the next week or 2, I will be posting some of my favorite images from the trip with stories and how the image was made. For the first in the series, I would like to share my “Swirling Fork Falls” image which I made along the Roaring Fork River on a very wet, cold and overcast day. I had scouted out this location 2 years ago and make a point to visit the location each time I am in the park. Unlike most images made along Roaring Fork, which are usually shot from the side of the road or on one of the many bridges along the drive, I made this shot from a secret location along the river which requires a climb down a steep hillside, a bushwhack down the banks of the river and at this time of the year an almost waist deep crossing in icy cold water. It’s the only way to get the shot of the swirls in the foreground and is well worth the effort and discomfort. Anyway, I try to set myself apart from many of my contemporaries by putting myself in uncomfortable situations or going in the back-country in search of rare images and not just roadkill shots.
Once across the banks, I climbed on to a wet slippery moss covered rock to get into position to get all 3 swirls in the frame. In order to capture the swirls of the foam in the river, I needed an exposure of over 10 seconds. This was no problem in the soft overcast light with a circ. polarizer and f16. Here’s the problem with the long exposure, if I expose for the swirls, I lose all the texture and detail in the waterfall. Solution, record two images. The first at 10 seconds @ f16 at ISO 100 and the second @ 1/4 of a second at f4 and ISO 200. Once I got the images back on the computer, it was a simple task of manually blending the two together in Adobe Photoshop CS4 using layers masking and soft brushes for the blend.
Check back in a few days for the next instalment from the Smokies!