Dreamy Waterfall

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Well, it’s time for a little experimentation.  I have been fooling around with photoshop a little bit trying to create a “dreamscape” type of shot.  You might notice that some areas of this picture are kind of blurry, and some are in relatively crisp focus.  It’s an effect I’ve seen out there and I really like it.  Some would call it a painterly effect, but I don’t really think that’s what I’m going for.  I’m sure that if you asked 10 photographers how they achieve their unique effect, you’d get 11 different answers.  Mine involves Gaussian blur in one layer and a high pass filter effect for ultra crispness in another layer.  Then I used a layer mask to paint blurriness in.  I used a reduced flow brush to put more blur in some areas than others and believe me, lots and lots of use of the history tool to erase all kinds of mistakes.  Overall, I’m pretty ok with the end result, but I reserve the right to work a little more on the technique.  I’ve heard of photographers taking two different pictures to create this same effect.  Each picture set at a different aperture for a different depth of field, or two completely differently focused images.  This might be a great idea, however, I had no idea I was going to try that with this image when I took it; so I only had the one image to work with.  I’ve also heard of people using textures to achieve this effect.  Like I said, 10 photographers, 11 answers.  If you’ve ever tried this sort of thing let me know.  That is if you don’t mind sharing your secret sauce.

A quick note about this picture.  It is, of course, of a waterfall.  As I’ve said before, waterfalls are one of my favorite subjects.  I took this image at Rickets Glen State Park, which is a short drive from my home.  I’ve posted waterfall shots from this place before, and I have plenty more to share. There are a few dozen of them in the park.  It was late afternoon, and a really hot day.  Some friends of ours from the UK were with us, and we happily obliged them in a quick nature hike along a cool stream.  Later that evening, we roasted marshmallows and made them speak with American accents!!  It was awesome and hysterical!!!  Almost as funny as our British accents, that is!!

Niagara!

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Today I thought I would offer you an odd angle of Niagara Falls.  So often we see them from above, but this shot is from below.  When my family and I went there this past summer, we shelled out a few bucks to partake in the “Journey Behind the Falls”.  That last bit should be said with a loud bellowing echo type of voice.  All kidding aside, this was an awesome experience and my kids especially loved it.  Even better, the wind was blowing in the opposite direction, so I took my camera out from under the supplied “spray coat”, a glorified piece of Saran Wrap, and got a few pictures.  This one is near the base of the falls looking up.  The right hand portion of the shot is actually looking “behind” the falls where sheets of water endlessly spray out.  It was a vantage point I had not seen before and felt kind of special seeing it this way.  It took a fast shutter to freeze the falls in this manner, so I was glad for the sunny day to make it happen.  Good times!!

As I write this, I’m warming up with a hot cup of tea after a short, but sweet hike through a local park.  The recent coating of snow, and some nice sunrise color were calling, and I couldn’t resist the urge.  Especially after my wife said, “It looks pretty nice out there, why aren’t you out taking pictures?”  She knows I disappear in the morning after the kids get off to school, so off I went.  It’s funny how when you start out on a snow covered trail, there are so many footprints you can’t make any sense of them, but as you hike further on in, the tracks diminish slowly until you’re the only one out there.  It was a welcome Zen moment shared with a few Chickadees and Blue Jays.  I could hear some Phoebes and Woodpeckers but couldn’t put my eyes on them.  All in all, a great morning before I head to work later.  Right now, I’m staring at my camera waiting for it to come back up to room temp so I can check out my results.  I hope to share them with you soon.  Have a great weekend.

Water Fall Relief

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There’s no place better on a hot summer day to take refuge from the heat than a waterfall.  That’s exactly what happened a few months back on a crazy hot day this past summer.  We decided to pack up, and hit the trail.  This place is so cool.  There is a huge lake on top of the mountain, and it cascades down a  five mile slope resulting in close to 40 different waterfalls, some of which are 100 feet (30  meters) high.  The trail has some challenging elevation changes but that’s what gives you these awesome waterfalls, and on this day, some much needed relief from the heat.  If your ever near Red Rock, PA, check it out, it’s Rickets Glenn State Park.  It’s a bit of a drive from my home, but well worth it.  It’s funny because I always knew it was a nice place for photography, but when I started seeing pictures taken there by people from Europe, I was so surprised.  I guess it goes to show you a truth we often ignore in photography, that some of the best shots to be had are practically in your own back yard.  I once believed I could only get amazing shots by traveling somewhere exotic, but not any more.  Rickets Glenn proved that to me.  Challenge yourself to see what you’ve been missing in your own hometown.  Look at it with a strangers eyes and you’ll be amazed at what you’ve missed.

With that said, I’ve included a shot of one of the many waterfalls at Rickets.  I love photographing waterfalls, but I have such a difficult time framing them, or finding the best point of view.  Then there’s the whole, ” to long expose the water or try to freeze it” conflict.  If I made a top 10 list of favorite things to photograph, waterfalls would definitely be in there, but if I made a list of most frustrating subjects I try to photograph, waterfalls would be right near the top.  (I think this just gave me an idea for another post)  Anyway, I hope you like this one, and remember we’re on the downslide to the weekend at this point.  Have a great rest of the week.