Saturday, May 14, 2011
Adventures in Photography: Bash Bish Falls
Photographing waterfalls may be the most satisfying experience in nature photography. Photography is essentially about capturing time. Most photos capture a split second in time. The camera shutter opens and closes within the blink of an eye. Making an image of a waterfall is a different experience altogether.
My favorite technique for photographing waterfalls is to make a long exposure and let the water flow through the image. This creates a silky smooth effect, while capturing longer moments of time. Any exposure from 1/8 second or longer will create this effect. Using your camera’s manual setting and a tripod are necessities. Set the f stop as high as possible and set the shutter speed for the correct exposure.
The rushing water creates enough sound that every day life can be washed away in the rushing torrent. Time simply passes away as the water rushes down stream. Hours seem to pass like minutes while a connection with nature is re-established. Often, my inner self will “awaken” as I finish photographing. I had been in another place at least for a little while.
Last fall I spent a morning photographing Bash Bish Falls in western Massachusetts. These beautiful falls are the tallest in Massachusetts, measuring over 60 feet. They are classic icons of the Berkshires and have been the subject of numerous artists since the 1800’s. Making a new and interesting composition is very challenging, but the effort is well worth it.
On the day I visited Bash Bish falls, the autumn leaves were past peak, but a few maple trees tenaciously held onto their yellow leaves. Other trees had conveniently dropped all of their leaves on the rocks in and around the river. The contrast of the yellow leaves against the grey granite rocks made for a very interesting foreground.
Be careful when visiting Bash Bish Falls. They were recently ranked by AOL as one of the most dangerous destinations in America! Climbing on the rocks around the falls can be treacherous. Be especially vigilant on the dangerous cliff side trail that leads to the falls. For an easier, much safer hike, park in nearby Taconic State Park in New York. The state of New York maintains a beautiful trail that follows the river for approximately 1 mile to the falls.
This Month’s Tip: When photographing waterfalls don’t be afraid to get in the water. Standing in the water creates an interesting perspective. It also allows you to more fully connect with your subject, Mother Nature. Be wise when wading in the water. Make sure that the current is not too powerful and that the water is not too deep. At a recent workshop, renowned photographer Tony Sweet suggested wearing waders and testing the water without your camera first. Once you have established a safe location for shooting, go back and get your camera. This will save you and your camera from getting in over your head!