Canon EOS 6D | EF 17-40 f/4L @ 17mm | 1/6s | f/13 | ISO 800
Still trying to get over my photography slump I decided it had been too long since I had visited Great Falls, with my last visit nearly 9 months ago back in January. Went to bed a bit early the night before and woke up feeling refreshed, looking forward to my early morning down on the Potomac. I was hoping it would be the end up my bad luck in terms of light. Unfortunately it was not. It was overcast all morning and the clouds just did not break. Fortunately however, for about 5 minutes, shortly after sunrise, the sun peeked through and gave me just enough oranges and pinks in the sky to play with.
If you are unfamiliar with Great Falls, it is not really that great in terms of a waterfall itself, however, the rapids and the sheer volume of the river are really something to behold. Visitors to the park are not supposed to wander off the trail and there is no direct access to the edge of the river. But if you are adventurous enough there are ways to get down to the river. And if you are careful enough, it is really quite amazing to be that close to such a powerful force of nature.
For those interested in the technical aspects of this image, read on, otherwise... read on anyways.
Capture: For this image, I did something I almost never do when shooting landscapes. I bumped the ISO up to 800. Due to the lack of any direct sunlight and the overcast day, and my need to make sure I had a large enough depth of field, I just could not get my shutter speed quick enough. Normally with waterfalls, slowing down the shutter speed makes for that wonderful look we all go for and enjoy. Great Falls does not quite work that way. The water moves so quickly that anything over half a second really blurs the water to the point that you start losing a lot of detail. I have come to find that quicker shutter speeds give me the best result at this location. So I ended up at 1/6th of a second, which for a waterfall would normally be way too short. In this case, it gave me the perfect amount of motion and detail. Unfortunately, getting there required a boost to ISO 800. Normally this would be unacceptable to me due to noise, but I have found with my 6D that it really is a non issue, and the noise that appears is actually rather pleasant.
Post: Due to it being mostly overcast, I was able to capture this image from a single frame out of the camera. Most of the processing for this image was done in Adobe Camera RAW using the basic RAW adjustments, graduated filters, and the adjustment brush. This image was also double RAW processed into photoshop to help tame some of the highlights, and then some minor contrast and color adjustments were made to reach the final image you see here. I would be happy to provide some more information about the processing if anyone is interested.
Finally, some thoughts. The 2013 curse continues. I have yet to be out with my camera this year for one of those sunrises or sunsets that just make you stop dead in your tracks. Yesterday morning was no exception. But of course, a lack of time to devote to photography has made it so that I will take what I get when I am able to shoot. Regardless, I am extremely happy with this image. Personally I feel like it really shows my growth as a photographer over the last couple years. I think this is probably my best Great Falls image yet, and potentially one of my best images overall. And to be able to capture this on a day where the lighting conditions were less than optimal really makes me happy with the progress I have made. I only hope I can continue to grow as I have and find more and more time for photography.
I hope you enjoy this image as much as I do and as much as I enjoyed creating it!