Beautiful Looking Glass Falls

Every year I am always looking for places to visit and photograph before the crowds start arriving. I love to photograph waterfalls in North Carolina. Of course, I have my favorites. One of my favorites is Looking Glass Falls in near Asheville. It is a beautiful 60 ft waterfall and people come from all over the state to visit the waterfall. It is also a very popular summer hole for many people, including photographers. Looking Glass Falls is not like some waterfalls that are difficult to access and may require a lot of hiking. It is actually located roadside which makes it pretty easy to access. I had no problems taking my image because I chose to photograph the falls during the off-season. There was no one there. It was pretty nice to have the waterfall all to myself.

Looking Glass Falls

Looking Glass Falls

It's pretty easy to access Looking Glass Falls by traveling on U.S. 276, Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, near Brevard in the Pisgah National Forest. To get to Looking Glass Falls, take U.S. 276 North from Brevard about six miles. Or take U.S. 276 South from the Blue Ridge Parkway for about 10 miles.

Directions from Downtown Asheville (about 36 miles): Take I-240 West / I-26 East. Continue on I-26 East to Exit 40 for Highway 280 (and the Asheville Airport). Take a right onto Highway 280 West and go 16 miles toward Brevard. As you enter the Brevard area, you will see a big shopping center on the right (with Wal-Mart). Just past the center, turn right onto US Highway 276 North (Forest Heritage Scenic Byway) to enter the Pisgah National Forest. Go 6 miles.

What is very cool about the waterfall is it is always open. If you go in the summer, be prepared to deal with the crowds. Getting a great image of the waterfall is very difficult in the summer months due to the volume of visitors at the falls. If you are a photographer that loves to photograph waterfalls in North Carolina, I highly recommend visiting Looking Glass Falls.

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger

 

Photography is More Than Just Getting the Shot

We have all heard the motto that "it is not all about the reaching a goal that is most important, but it more about the journey". When it comes to photography and wanting the capture a nice photograph of a location you have never visited that motto can be a great one to remember. Recently, I visited a state park in North Carolina that I had never heard of before even though I from North Carolina. The state park gets very little publicity, but my wife read that the park had a waterfall as one of it's major attractions. Those that know me know I really cannot resist photographing a new waterfall. With the information I got from my wife and the photos she found of the waterfall I thought we would take a road trip and check it out. My objective was to get a new image of a new waterfall and add it to my collection of photos of waterfalls from North Carolina. 

South Mountain State Park in North Carolina was not a far from my home. The trip was only going to take about 2 hours from my home. According to what my wife and I read about the park was the park offered clean campsite, hiking trails, a beautiful flowing creek, and best all the water that is called, "High Shoals Falls". Finding the park was not that easy and took my wife and I deep into the back roads of North Carolina. On the back roads, we saw large farmlands, old country homes, and nice roaming pastures. I was actually surprised that the state park was so far off the beaten path and at times wondered if we were lost. After about 2.5 of driving, we finally made it to the state park. 

When we entered the park we found the park to be rather nice, clean and there were very few visitors. We kind of planned it that way. We decided to visit the park on a Monday to avoid the crowds that we read could be large on the weekends. We made the right decision to visit on a Monday. Once we entered the park we entered a very nice visitors center and got directions to the waterfall. The waterfall was only 2 miles from the visitors center.

We had read the hiking trail to the waterfalls was only one mile, one way. We also read the trail was flat, and it was a moderate trail. Well, the trail was one mile long but the trail was not flat or moderate. The first part of the trail was flat, but about halfway into the hike, the trail became a little more difficult. The trail had large roots from nearby trees near a nice flowing and beautiful creek. The trail had some steep steps that had to be taken to get to various parts of the trail, and more importantly, the last quarter mile of the trail consisted of steeper steps and large boulders to confront. As we got closer to the base of the boulders my wife decided she would stay by the creek side and enjoy the nice weather and listen to the flowing water from the creek. She was the smart one. I decided to venture to the top to get a photo of the waterfall that was not visible from the location where I departed from my wife. My guess was, I was not too far from the waterfall. I was wrong. 

Once I departed my wife, began the short but tiring journey of climbing steep stairs and rocks to get to the summit. On my way to the top, I passed a few people. I passed two young girls on my way to the top (or should I say they passed me). I also had an older gentleman pass me that was coming done from the falls. He had a great deal of difficulty coming down the step stairs descending from the upper falls. I knew the hike was very difficult for him and he stated he had a lot of physical issues. Walking was one of them. I had a lot of respect for the old geezer. He could barely walk but he did not let that stop him from venturing to the top to snap a photo or two of the waterfall even though he had taken the trip many times before. 

Once I reached the top and beside the High Shoals Falls, I was impressed by the amount of water from the falls. Recently, the area had received a great amount of rainfall. So the volume of water was impressive. However, I was disappointed in the view. I found out very quickly that there was no real way to get a good composition for my shot. Another issue was the direction of the sun. I had to shoot directly into the sun and that was not going to work at all. There was a small platform to work from and I was continually dealing with mist from the waterfall. I did take a few images but after I reviewed them they were not worth keeping. After being a little disappointed I packed up my gear and began my journey back down the trail to meet up with my wife. Coming down the trail was a little tricky and it was a place that one would not want to fall, sprain an ankle, or break a leg. As I came down the trail I began to think about the old man I passed and wondered if he made it down okay. I did locate him resting on a boulder 30 minutes after I originally met him. He was taking his time and being careful in his decent. I could tell it was not his first rodeo.  

After meeting up with my wife, I informed her that I did not get a good shot of the waterfall. Then I started thinking that the trip was not a total waste of my time and getting a special image was not that important. What made the trip special was I got to enjoy an adventure of visiting a location that I had never heard of before. My wife and I got to spend quality time together enjoying a beautiful day. My wife got to do a little mediating by a nice flowing creek and enjoy some private time in nature. 

Those in photography, including myself, sometimes get so hung up in getting that "special image" that we can work with and share with others. But, the image is not what made the journey membeable. What makes a journey special is the what happens throughout the adventure. Sometimes is best to go with the flow and enjoy the experiences, sights, sounds, and challenges from an adventure. If one is too focused on getting a great image, one can miss out on what is most important and it living in the moment. 

If you get a chance to visit South Mountain State Park in North Carolina, enjoy the park. It as very nice campsite, a beautiful stream to fly fish and hike by, numerous hiking trails, and most of all a nice waterfall if want to push yourself to the top. Just remember to enjoy the journey. 

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger 

I Finally Got the Chance to Photograph Linville Falls!

Well, I finally got the opportunity to photograph the Linville Falls in North Carolina. It is hard to believe I live in North Carolina and haven't photographed the falls before now. I have been through the area many times and never had the chance or time to visit one of the most photographed waterfalls located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. The Linville Falls located near milepost 316.4 or about 66 miles from Asheville North Carolina. There are a variety of locations to photograph the falls but I was looking to photograph the falls from a familiar location to others that have photographed the falls before. 

When I arrived the visitors center was closed and there were a few people there. After doing a little exploring of the area map my wife and I started our hike. The hike to the spot I wanted to photograph the falls was not very far from the visitors center. Actually, it was only about a mile to the overlook I wanted to do the photoshoot. The overlook I chose to photograph the falls is called the Chimney View. The Chimney View Overlook would allow me to photograph the upper falls and the lower falls. The view also had some very nice cliffs. So, I knew from some of the photos I had seen before online, that was the location I needed to find. 

One of the main things I wanted to do was to experiment with my new Tamron 18-400mm lens and see how well I could zoom into the waterfall. I had seen many other photos of the Linville Falls that were taken from the Chimney View Overlook and many of them were taken from a distance. I wanted to see how well I could zoom in with my new Tamron zoom lens. I was very impressed with how well I could zoom into specific spots throughout the scene. Having a new zoom lens for such a shoot provided me with a variety of options to find specific shots and allowed me to be a little more creative and seek out unique compositions. End the end, I found that a vertical shot of the upper and lower falls was my best option. 

I was very happy with the photo I got from the Linville Falls. It was nice to finally get the shot that I wanted to get for several years. In the end, it was all worth the wait. If I had taken the same shot without my Tamron lens, I would not be able to get the shot I got. Sometimes waiting for the right time is worth the wait. 

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If you ever get a chance to photograph the Linville Falls, I suggest to select a time in the middle of the week and not wait until the peak season. Even in the middle of February, the place got pretty crowded and the Chimney View Overlook is pretty small and it will be difficult to set up your gear to get a great shot. 

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger Younce 

Reediting a Not-So-Old Image

As most people know I love waterfalls. I can't get enough of them. When I can't photograph a beautiful waterfall I do the next best thing; I reediting the ones I have. Today was a great day to look through some of my favorite waterfall photos to see if I could work some creative magic on an old image. I decided to work on a small but beautiful waterfall called the Mountain Meadows Falls. My objective was to use a combination of Lightroom CC and Luminar to edit the image. Here lately, I have started my editing process by beginning with Luminar. Luminar provides me with a nice baseline to start my edits. Some of the presets are great for landscapes and provides some creavity options to work with. 

Mountain Meadows Falls is a simple waterfall in North Carolina and the location provides a nice hidden type of mood to the image. I wanted to focus on the rock formations and the beautiful flowing water from the falls. After I found a nice preset in Luminar I exported the image to Lightroom and used a couple of my favorite presets from Sleeklens. Sleeklen presets are awesome and there many preset packages to choose from to get the look I wanted for the waterfall. I think the image turned out great and judging from the positive feedback from my socials media channels, the image was a hig hit.  

 

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Mountain Meadows Falls. 

Until next time, keep shooting. 

Roger  

Photography is All About Trying New Things

When it comes to growing as a photographer it is important to remember that you are never as talented as you think you are. Being a master photographer is not possible because being a master means you make no mistakes and requires perfection, which doesn't exist. Talented photographers want to become better at their craft. Growing as a photographer requires the willingness to try new things. Trying new things can mean trying new gear, learning from others, learning new techniques, using new software, taking an adventure, etc...Basically, trying new things can be an endless task and that is alright. It is all about the journey and the destination is just a bonus. 

In my journey as a photographer I have realized that I make a lot of mistakes and I know very little about photography. Do I want to know everything about photography? The answer to that is, no. What I do know is I enjoy learning new things and trying to make my old work better. Believe me, I really hate a lot of my old images. I look back at my images and can see just how terrible my photos were. I am glad that I am able to see some improvements of my work every year. The key for me is to keep shooting, try new things, and learn from my mistakes. 

In a recent photo shoot at Hanging Rock State Parkway in North Carolina I wanted to see if I could get a better image of the Lower Cascade Falls. I have been there several times and I really enjoy visiting the waterfall. However, I have never really liked the images I had taken there in the past. My goal was to take several images of the waterfall and try some new workflow ideas with the newest images. I had a pretty good idea or what style of image I want to create. However, as with all my post processing sessions, I have no idea how the photo is really going to come out. For me, that is the fun part. 

The Lower Cascade waterfall is a small one but the amount of water was very good due to recent heavy rains. I wanted to get to the waterfall before the visitors started showing up and trying to swim at the base of the falls. You can see by the image that the waterfall has a lot of rocks that visitors love to climb, which is not a very smart idea. Luckily for me, the water was too cold and no one wanted to take a quick dip.

I decided to take most of my gear in my new camera bag and my tripod for the shoot. I wanted to make sure I had all the gear I needed for any shot. I took a variety of shots but my composition choices were limited. I was able to get a couple of nice images I could work with. After returning home, my objective was to work on a completely different workflow to see if I could produce a better image than I had taken before. That is the trying new things part.

Part of trying new things in photography for me consisted of doing some irregular post processing. I shoot all my images in RAW and on this occasion I did some bracketing. My post processing consisted of using Lightroom, Photomatic and presets from Sleeklens. I am a big fan of presets and collect as many as I can. Presets saves me a lot of time in processing and gives me a great baseline start to work with. For my image I used bracketed photos of the waterfall, used Photomatic to get a slight HDR effect and then applied a nice preset. My goal was to create an image that had an artistic feel to it. I wanted clarity, sharpness, and color. Below is the before and after photos of the Lower Cascade WaterFall. The first image is straight out of the camera with no possessing. The after photo was the look I was going for.  As far as I am concern it turned out pretty nice.

Lower Cascade Falls (Before)

Lower Cascade Falls (Before)

Lower Cascade Falls (After)

Lower Cascade Falls (After)

Photography is all about trying new things and finding out what works for you and your style. I feel one should work on developing a style that is all your own and never listen to critics. Better yet, don't be a critic. I feel it is very important to continue to learn something new whenever you can. You never know how much better you will be next year by trying something new, so keep shooting.

Roger