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.