Dark Hollow Falls – Part 2 (In the Zone)

As I mentioned in my last post, it often takes a while before the creative juices start flowing and things begin to fall into place – when things just click.  So it was at Dark Hollow Falls: I started out shooting the obvious stuff, but after about an hour, I began to unconsciously “get into the place”.  Initially, I spent some time shooting “into” the falls, try to capture some of the magical quality that falling water possesses as it moves over the rocks.    I then put the camera in the bag and collapsed the tripod, and did some conservative rock scrambling to get a different, and hopefully better, perspective on the scene.  Once I was up at the next level, I set up the camera and tripod and began taking some more pretty conventional pictures looking up the falls.  But, it wasn’t until I looked back down to the pool at the base of the falls that several more shots presented themselves one right after the other.  The following two shots are what I consider the best that I got on that day.


As is typical with this type of experience, you realize the moment has passed and it is time to pack up and head home when you start taking those “standard” shots again.  The sky had been getting darker as I climbed back to the car, and my trip north on Skyline Drive was shrouded in fog.  The rain started just as I exited the park on my way to Sperryville and then Warrenton, where I had lunch with my son-in-law, Zack.  All in all, a pretty good day.

Dark Hollow Falls – Part 1 (The Big Picture)

It was beginning to seem like forever since I had been out for a day of dedicated photography, and the fact I had a new camera and lens to try out wasn’t helping the matter.  Although the forecast called for some strong storms later in the day, yesterday, I decided to make a dash to Shenandoah National Park to see Dark Hollow Falls.  So, I was up at 0:dark:30 and on the road by 0:dark:45, arriving at the parking lot for the falls at 7am.  A short 15 minute hike got me to the base of the main falls, where I wound up spending the next two and a half hours blissfully ignorant of the time.

I started, as usual, taking several “standard” shots of the falls, trying to get a feel for the place, and hoping my imagination would be sparked along the way.  One of the first things I did was to shoot a 180 degree panorama.

This shot is a 6-image panorama.  I placed myself in the middle of what would be the run-off area for the falls when they are moving storm water or a major spring melt.  Now the area was dry and the falls had a very moderate, picturesque flow.  I set up my tripod so that the bubble-level at the collar indicated it was level, and the set the ball-head so the bubble-level on the clamp bed was level.  I then clamped on my Really Right Stuff pano head, and then attached the calibrated rail on which the camera sits.  The camera was placed on the sliding bed on the rail in a vertical format, and I then set the bed of the calibrated rail to my calculated non-parallex point (NPP) for the 24-70mm set to 24mm.  Since all the exposures had to be the same, despite changes of brightness changes across the panorama, I set the camera to manual mode and made six 4 second exposures at f/22.  Back in the digital darkroom, I used Photoshop CS5 to stitch the six shots together, and then used several of the Nik filters to help open up some of the shadows and add some contrast.  Next time I am at the falls, I want to try a 360-degree pano, and I have some ideas for other panos along the trail.

I have a couple more shots from Dark Hollow Falls that I will be processing in the next couple of days that I will post soon.