Every year Elaine and I try to go visit my sister and her family at their Lake Weiss Alabama house on the July 4th weekend. Once again I was able to get away from the dogs, babies and other distractions (things like sitting in a rocking chair watching the water) to capture some photos. Have I ever told you that I have the most understanding wife in the world?
I decided to take a scouting drive up to the falls on Saturday to see what the conditions were like. I knew that the park would be covered up with people so I did not plan on taking any photos but I did pack my gear just in case. I will get back to this in a minute.
I was also looking for a chance to photograph the Milky Way, so I stopped along the route and used the Night AR feature in Photo Pills App on my cell phone to see where it would be in relation to interesting foreground objects. I did not find a location that I liked on this trip, but I will try again on another trip.
Happy 4th of July 2016!
On my scouting trip I found the park crowded as I expecteed. Unfortinutly I was disappointed to see how many people left their garbage behind for the volunteers to pick up. However, the good people of the parks service and the "friends of (fill in the park)" do a great job of cleaning up and putting up with the guests.
As I walked down the hill I had a vision of some of my past experiences and was figuring out what time I would need to head back to beat the guests to the park and have some soft light and no sun bathers floating in the river.
The photo below was from July 2012.
I always like to challange myself on my previous images. DoI try less time to get more detail or try and make the water more ghostly by increasing the length of the exposure?
July 3, 2012
As I rounded the corner I was in shock, the drought was apparent at the falls.
The photo on the left is from my cell phone on July 3, 2016.
The photo on the right was taken July 7, 2013.
I remember talking to a ranger in 2013 about the amount of rain and water that year. They had just had a solid week of rain right before that weekend.
Low Water vs High Water
As I walked back to my car, I stopped and talked to some Parks service folks. They confirmed that the water was as lower as it has been in years.
So I decided I did not have to fight the crowds at the river for a great shot and changed my plans a little. Before I move on, below are a few other shots from various years in the same area.
July 3, 2012
The next morning, I got up before sunrise because Piper needed to go out and my daughter Ashley had been on an all day flight from Atlanta to Greece (Both Taylor and Ashley have a love of Travel that they inherited from their parents, they both will pick up and go at a moments notice). The text and face time messages started before sunrise.
So I decided to make the longer drive up to Desoto Falls State Park, where there is a small lake and I wanted to look for some landscape opportunities. The falls are nice as well, but I knew they would be low so I did not plan on waterfall photos.
I pulled into the parking area shortly after the sun crested the trees, as I drove in I could see there was a slight haze over the lake and the sun was glaring. I figured I was out of luck.
There are a few boat houses on the far side of the lake, I grabbed a 80-200 zoom attached it to the camera and tripod and decided to try and grab a few quick shots.
From the lower end of the lake there was to much glair on my lens, I had a hard time getting in contrast at all. I walked up near the far end of the lake and I found a shade tree and decided to setup there for a shot.
Using the tree to shade the front element of the tree, I was able to get the angle below.
The scene was very still, no fishermen on the lake and no wind. After the walk to reposition myself the sun was opening up the face of the boat house nicely.
The photo below is the neighbor house to the one in color.
If you don't already do so, take a look at your photos in Black and White. Back in the day we tried to visualize the world in Black and White, mainly because it was easy and inexpensive to make nice prints in a home darkroom.
Today through the magic of software you can make as many variations as you wish.
Making the walk up to the far end of the lake put the light over my left shoulder as I shot. there was still some glare in the original frame, but the Light Rooms Dehaze filter took it out.
I always do some basic contrast and cropping done in Light Room. I moved the image to Topaz and used Clarity to finish the adjustments.
For the Black and White I use Silver Efex Pro 2 (free from Google).
There is a world of beautiful images all around us. Some trips just deliver more than others.
Even though I only have a few images that I am happy with from this trip I think these are fantastic.