03 November 2009
November Evening at Great Falls National Park
This past Sunday I was able to get out to Great Falls National Park on the Virginia side of the Potomac River for an hour or so of photography. I had hoped to get some more photography in this weekend, but the rain cleared out late, and I left the house later than I wanted to, so I arrived at the park only about an hour before sunset. To top it all off I was limping through on two very partially charged batteries. I had sent my camera out for cleaning and forgot to recharge my batteries after my last trip. It was either go as is, or miss my chance while I waited for one battery to completely charge, so I took a chance that the batteries would hold out long enough. I only got a few decent shots (the one above being my most favorite) before the sun and the batteries gave out on me.
The first shots I took were of this Great Blue Heron. The river was pretty high due to the recent rains and this heron was hanging out on a new tributary running through the rocks and trees on the bank above the falls. A friendly tourist mentioned that I'd find some sort of "crane" hanging out in a "reflecting pool" if I moved quietly up river when I started in towards the river, so this one was pretty easy to find.
Next I found this pothole next to a cascade and this beautiful autumn willow. I've always been fascinated by glacial potholes since I saw my first one in Shelburne Falls, MA, so I've been longing to get a decent picture of one. The ones at Great Falls are often filled with water, aquatic plants, and even frogs, forming their own little micro-ecosystems. This image gives a nice feel for what the edge of the river above the falls looks like at this time of year.
I played around some with different abstracts of the rocks and rushing water, using the low overcast light and a polarizer to get long exposure times (> 2 seconds). The first image in this post was the most successful, but I was constantly drawn back to the curve of the water moving over and around this partially submerged rock at the top of the falls. I don't know that it makes a particularly spectacular image, but it does represent what I saw and what drew me to take the image in the first place.
Now after sunset and with both light and batteries fading fast, I decided to try some images from below the falls. I climbed down the kayak access (made extra treacherous by a small rainwater stream) to the river and although the river was high there was just enough shoreline to safely walk upriver and get a clear view of the falls. The thundering of the rain swollen river in the twilight was very powerful and there was just a thin strip of pink sky showing between the cloud cover and the top of the falls. After setting up, I captured this one image and then my final battery died, effectively ending my photography, but I'm glad I got out to enjoy the evening. I particularly liked the moody, atmospheric feel of this image, with the strorm clouds, but enough light showing to keep the sky from being a boring solid gray mass.