Since backpacking in South Mountain State Park a few years ago (near Hickory, NC), I’ve wanted to return to the Jacob Branch water features and capture their beauty. This has been especially true since I recently purchased a 3 stop neutral density filter to go with my new wide angle lens. This morning I got up at early to beat the fall color spectators to the park.
I wanted to capture the High Shoal Falls waterfall, which is the primary point of interest for most day hikers in the park. It looked like the best shot of the falls was on the other side of the stream. Unfortunately, the aggressive terrain and large boulders didn’t offer a safe means across. I traveled back downstream a few hundred yards and precariously bouldered my way over to a section of the stream quite audible, but not visible from the trail. There I found a great location and captured the images in this post.
With my neutral density filter, I ended up with exposures around 20 seconds, at f16 and ISO 250. To recompose, I was able to keep my ND filter on by using my camera’s live view mode at f2.8. Though I’m pleased with these images, I’ll need more practice to perfect my technique with this filter. I didn’t make it to the other side of High Shoal Falls today. I’ll plan to return in the spring. Hope you enjoy!
These two images are from the second show featured during the Caswell County Matinee I introduced you to several weeks ago. The second show was just a dramatic and spectacular as the first! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Click on an image to see a higher resolution version from my portfolio site. Thanks for stopping by today.
Here’s one more image to end this series. I’m sure there are other forgotten images from 2015, and perhaps beyond. One rainy weekend afternoon, they will be discovered, processed, published and hopefully appreciated.
Bear Island is a short ferry ride from the launch at Hammock’s Beach State Park in Swansboro, North Carolina. It’s also part of the Boque Banks, just south of the better known Outer Banks. The ferry approaches the mainland side of the island through a vast estuarial marsh. A 3/4 mile trek to the seaward side of the island takes you through dense scrubs and tall dunes. Along the way I came across a beautiful windswept live oak tree. A cold front brought large dramatic, thick cloud formations. With all the beauty and drama already in place, a group of passing pelicans added a nice touch to an already spectacular image.
Northeast of the park, the historic White Oak River empties into the Atlantic. Visiting the area last weekend with my Scout Troop, we camped at Cedar Point Campgrounds near wetlands at the mouth of the river. I captured the image below the in the marshes just behind our camp area. The trees offered an interesting shape with contrasting limbs and trunks against a dense backdrop of pine, undergrowth and grasses. Careful processing of the tone curve created a nice extended range of tones. Larger versions of the images can been seen on my portfolio site by selecting the image.
My Scouts love to backpack in and around Grayson Highlands State Park, VA. The location is part of the Mount Rogers National Recreational Area and the Jefferson National Forest. Each time we backpack, I always bring my camera. On the trail, I’m always at the back of line taking pictures, or running ahead to catch our Scout Troop navigating the beautiful terrain.
Scientists tell us this area was considered an alpine forest during the last ice age. As the ice retreated, the alpine forest retreated to higher ground. A mix of evergreen firs, spruce and hemlocks mixed with Chestnut, Locust trees and mountain brush once covered the area. As a result of the great loss of the American Chestnut in the early 1900s, loggers came into the area to retrieve the dead trees for it valuable lumber. The impact of this event along with the well-drained rocky soil, weather, spruce-fir & hemlock loss to pests, acid rain, and wild ponies all contribute to this unique biome. The terrain is absolutely stunning, especially in the fall, offering a tremendous opportunity for beautiful natural photography.
The first photo, Hemlock & Birch Tree Composition, was taken just after sunrise in the early Fall. It features a dead hemlock on the left with a live birch in front, on the right. Only the green, and a slight amount of yellow, were left to highlight the lichen and add visual interest. As usual, I processed the image with a Panatomic-X filter in Exposure 7 to add old school grain, contrast and character.
One of our most popular backpacking trail routes is along the Appalachian Trail (AT), briefly cutting through the top of the park before looping northward out of the park along the western edge of Wilburn Ridge. The next image, Ghost on the RIdgeline, was taken along the AT on the western approach to Wilburn Ridge. It represents one of my favorite shots from Grayson Highlands. This dead, lichen covered hemlock appears as a ghost haunting the ridgeline along the dense, dark brush lining the rocky trail. The smaller image in this post appears a little darker than the normal preview on my portfolio site. Click on the image name to see a larger view from my site.
On a visit last September, I took Locust Tree Composition inside the park looking back at the western side of Wilburn Ridge. At some level, this image reminds me of a stain-glass window. Locust trees are to be respected, especially when you’re trying to tie your camping hammock between two of them after sunset!
I plan to have more images from Grayson Highlands next week. I hope you enjoy.