Reid Northrup Photography: Blog https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog en-us (C) 2012 - 2019 Reid Northrup Photography (Reid Northrup Photography) Thu, 09 Sep 2021 21:03:00 GMT Thu, 09 Sep 2021 21:03:00 GMT https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/img/s/v-12/u531808334-o602775517-50.jpg Reid Northrup Photography: Blog https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog 109 120 Grand Teton National Park https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2021/9/grand-teton-national-park In June and July this past summer I had the joy of making my third trip to the Grand Teton National Park.  A photo buddy, Frank, and I piled our gear into my car and drove from Asheville, NC to the Tetons.  It was a long 3-day drive but once the first day was out of the way, the drive really wasn't too bad.  Having downloaded plenty of Netflix movies to my iPad helped pass the time when I wasn't driving.  But the excitement of our destination helped motivate us during the long drive.

Before we left, Frank and I met to lay out our desired locations and identify the prime locations we wanted to shoot in the mornings.  We were only going to have five days in the park before packing up and heading to the Rocky Mountain National Park for four days before heading back home.  The trouble is there are so many fantastic locations that would all look their best photographed with early morning light.  Our top picks were Schwabacher Landing, the Moulton Barns, Taggart Lake and Spring Lake.  This would be my first time hiking to Taggart and Spring Lakes.

Family and friends thought we should have flown to the Tetons vs. driving all that way.  But flying would mean limiting the gear we were able to take and we didn't want to get there and not have what we needed to get the desired result.

Weather turned out to be a key factor.  We got caught up with the heat wave affecting the western states.  So the high temperature each day was around 90 degrees.  At least the humidity was low and that did help.  Nonetheless, when it's 90 and you're averaging hiking five miles per day, you're hot.  While the mornings were great, the light quickly became very harsh after sunrise.  This really limited getting winning shots during the day.  And since we were getting up at 3am each morning, we chose not to be in the park in the evening.  I regret that decision now.  But by late afternoon, we were hot and pretty tired.

We arrived in the Tetons mid afternoon.  Since our check-in time was late afternoon, we decided to visit Mormon Row and the Moulton barns to scout the location.  It had been nine years since my last visit and the first time for Frank.  My preferred location at the T.A. Moulton barn is on the left side near a small patch of trees.  Since this area is rather small, knowing your favorite spot to set up your composition is important as this location can be packed at sunrise.  We were determined to be the first ones there.

So we're up early at 3am and get ready to go.  It was a bit of drive to the location but we got there around 5:40am and we were the first ones there.  Others started to arrive around 6am.  The odd thing was that everyone else that came set up directly in front of the barn.  Not exactly a good composition in my mind.  But good for us as we had the better spot all to ourselves and allowed us to move around a bit.  The last time I was there, there was hoard of photographers packed into that small area shoulder to shoulder.

If you've been to the T. A. Moulton barn you want to be there early to not only catch the sunrise shining on the Tetons but also catch the wonderful warm glow that lights up the front of the barn as the sun reaches over the mountains to the east.  Just not on this morning since there were too many low clouds in the east.  This blocked the sun from lighting up the barn.  Pretty disappointing but with a little help with post processing, here is the image I got.

 

T.A. Moulton Barn - July 2021T.A. Moulton Barn - July 2021 So even though Mother Nature wasn't on our side on this morning, I was still able to create some of the warm light on the barn.  Hopefully, you'll also agree that setting up in the trees provides a more pleasing composition.

Our next stop was to hopefully get to the Antelope Flats area just east of the barns to capture some wildflowers in the foreground.  But first we made a quick stop to get a few shots of the John Moulton Barn.

 

John Moulton Barn - July 2021John Moulton Barn - July 2021

In hindsight, knowing now the wildflowers would be in harsh light, I would have spent a bit more time at this location getting some additional compositions.  Guess I'll have to go back for the fourth time.

To truly get some spectacular wildflower images, we would have had to be in the park about two to three weeks earlier.  There still were numerous flowers just more spotty and looking a bit aged.  It would have been best to have gotten there earlier or better yet on a cloudy day.  I tried as best I could but this was the best shot for that morning.  This is a 15 shot stacked image.

 

Antelope Flats Wildflowers - July 2021Antelope Flats Wildflowers - July 2021

 

We then headed to Oxbow Bend to get the classic shot of Mt. Moran.  But, unfortunately, it was already early afternoon and the Mt. Moran's reflection in the water was long gone.  This is definitely a sunrise location.  We just didn't have enough days to fit everything in.  Nothing I photographed made the cut.

As you have likely read in many landscape photography articles, professional photographers always recommend scouting a location prior to shooting.  That's exactly what we did next.  Since we were hiking to Taggart Lake early the next morning and had learned how short the sunrise light lasted, we decided to scout out Taggart Lake before hiking it the next morning.  We were already hot and tired but I'm so glad we made the effort.  The roundtrip hike was about 3.5 miles including looking around at the lake.  I hadn't been to Taggart before so getting the lay of the land for possible compositions proved wise.  We found the locations we wanted to shoot first during the good morning light.

Once again we were up at 3am and got to the trailhead before dawn.  The cooler morning temps made the hike up to Taggart more pleasant.  Sometimes you just get lucky and I came away with this photo.  It turned out to be one of my favorite photographs of the trip.

 

Taggart Lake - July 2021Taggart Lake - July 2021

 

Our first stop the next day would be to hike to Spring and Leigh Lakes. This was the first time I've been to these lakes so we didn't know what to expect other than seeing photos from these locations.  Arriving at the trailhead shortly before dawn we started hiking.  The trail was in great condition and flat.  But by the time we reached the first spot we wanted to set up, the mountains had lost the alpine glow.  Nevertheless, it is stunningly beautiful along the way.  Here is one image I took.

Spring Lake - July 2021Spring Lake - July 2021

There was already a bit of a breeze and hard enough to not allow mountain  reflections in the lake.  Oh well.  We spent several hours here and took a lot of photos but I still have to process more from the hike.

We then headed east out of the park near Moran Junction on US 26/287.  A short distance up the hill, there is a hard to see turnoff to the right.  If you drive in there a little bit, you'll come to a beautiful overlook of the entire park with aspen trees in the foreground.  Here's what we saw.  This was taken around 2:30pm so the sun was high overhead.  This would be much better in the very early morning.  That was the theme of the trip as we learned.
 

Teton Range Distant View - July 2021Teton Range Distant View - July 2021

As we heading back into the park, we saw the sign for the turnoff to the Cunningham Cabin.  We weren't real excited to see it but we had the time so why not.

It was already late afternoon so it took a little creativity to get an acceptable photograph.  The Teton range was brightly lit at the time.  The cabin itself wan't all that spectacular.  Its shape looked a bit like a shoebox.  As I entered one of the rooms, the window showed a wonderful view of the Tetons.  With blending a few images I got a shot I liked.

 

Cunningham Cabin View - July 2021Cunningham Cabin View - July 2021 Afterwards, I walked around the perimeter of the cabin and saw a great curvy log fence, which would make a great leading line to the Tetons.  But looking at the photo during post processing the foreground was rather dull with all the sage brush.  Typically when the photo doesn't have a lot of color interest I try converting it to black and white to see if it gets any better.  In this case it didn't seem to help much.  But using Silver Efex Pro, I tried a number of their filters finally ending up with one with a sepia vintage tone.  This look may not be for everyone but here it is.

 

Cunningham Cabin Vintage Fence - July 2021Cunningham Cabin Vintage Fence - July 2021

On our final day in the park, we couldn't wait to get to the iconic Schwabacher Landing.  This location has been photographed in nearly every way possible but we still wanted to get OUR shot.  We got up once again at "stupid o'clock" and made it there well ahead of sunrise.  There were some good clouds so we were hoping for some great shots.  We were not disappointed.

There was already a crowd of people at the parking lot and we thought our spots might be packed.  We lucked out in that the majority of the people stayed near the parking lot.  We walked down the trail to one of the main   photograph compositions.  As I waited along with only three other photographers a mother moose and her offspring walked out of the woods and stopped to dine in the marsh.  My long lens, 80-400mm, was in the car, so I asked the guys to watch my gear while I ran to my car to grab it.  The moose were still there when I got back but, you guessed it, by the time I got it set up and ready to shoot, they left.  Agony.  I missed a priceless shot.   But I quickly brushed the loss off as I saw the morning light hit the peaks.  I took a longer exposure with great colorful clouds and here's what I got.

 

Schwabacher Landing Radiating Morning - July 2021Schwabacher Landing Radiating Morning - July 2021

As the sun rose higher the light lit up the lake a bit.  I was beside myself.

 

Schwabacher Landing Morning - July 2021Schwabacher Landing Morning - July 2021

I moved down the trail a bit and snapped off this one before the colors faded.

 

Schwabacher Landing Teton Morning - July 2021Schwabacher Landing Teton Morning - July 2021

As the sun rose higher the color quickly faded and the clouds began to dissipate.  I headed back toward the parking lot and grabbed this image with a lush marsh in the foreground.  I added a touch of Orton Effect to it using Luminar 4.

Schwabacher Landing Marshland - July 2021Schwabacher Landing Marshland - July 2021

A friend of mine, Jeff Clow, was leading a photo tour this week and he suggested going to another location at Schwabachers.  As you drive down the entrance road you'll see a left turn to a small parking lot before the main parking lot.  He said go here and follow the trail to the left to see four beaver dams and some great reflections.  It was so worth it.  There were many great compositions.  You could shoot a week of mornings here.

Schwabacher Landing Wildflowers - July 2021Schwabacher Landing Wildflowers - July 2021

Although the clouds were gone by now we still got some great mountain reflections.  There were tons of fading wildflowers along this trail but we were two to three weeks late to hit the peak.

Overall, it was a great trip to the Tetons.  If you've never been, I hope these images have motivated you to visit yourself.  


 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) barn grand teton national park lake landscape national park nature nikon rocks tetons water wildflowers https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2021/9/grand-teton-national-park Thu, 09 Sep 2021 21:02:57 GMT
Spring Flowers Are Blooming https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2021/4/spring-flowers-are-blooming In my last post I wrote about my new lenses from Lensbaby, the Velvet 85 and Sweet 50.  During the past month I've been using them a lot and I fall more in love with them during every outing.  Spring wild flowers have really never been my "thing" but these lenses have changed my mind.  I can't get enough of them now.  Two good friends are really into wild flowers so they have been showing me all of their great locations.

There is great fun in tramping around forests looking for a hint of color.  Sometimes the wild flowers such as trillium cover the forest floor like a blanket.  What a show that presents.  Most of the flowers are very tiny and, of course, are close to the ground.  While during my "normal" landscape work of hiking to waterfalls and climbing around rocks and streams searching for the right compositions key.  Likewise, searching for the "right" wild flower and composition is really quite the challenge and equally tiring.  You often have to lay on the ground and contort yourself into odd positions to get the desired compositions.  

While composition is always important, so is getting just the right focus when doing macro work.  My eyes are not that sharp anymore so I struggled getting the proper point(s) in focus.  Many times I thought I nailed the focus only to get it up on my computer monitor and realizing I missed it.  Even with using focus stacking you may not capture it.  One of my friends has a macro focusing rail that he let me borrow for a while.  He was always shooting handheld and didn't use it.  Handholding doesn't work for me.  But when I started using the rail I was amazed how much better my focusing became.  The LCD screen on the back of my camera works well but when I magnify the screen and use the rail I can get pinpoint focus most of the time.  So I knew I had to get one.  If you've been challenged with getting macro shots in focus, I suggest you try one out.

Here is a photo of one.  This one is adjustable on two planes so you can move your camera side-to-side or front to back in very tiny increments.  

 

Really Right Stuff B150-B Macro Focusing Rail - Panorama accessories -  Tripods

This first photo is a Blood Root bud.  This was taken with my Lensbaby Velvet 85 at about f/4.  The blurred backgrounds are really quite nice with Lensbaby lenses.  The Blood Root is very small and short.  Taking these types of shots is not very comfortable as you have to put your body in some unnatural positions.  But when you get these types of results, it is well worth it.  This was one of the first shots I took using the macro rails.  You can see I captured the tiny vertical lines on the petals.  

Blood Root BudBlood Root Bud

 

This wild flower is a Trout Lily.  You can't really see its super thin stem.  A big challenge photographing wild flowers is wind.  It takes so little to play havoc on getting a clean sharp image.  One good thing is that you're usually using a wide open aperture so that improves shutter speed. Luckily, I shoot with a Nikon D850, which has very good resolution at high ISOs.  So even if I'm shooting at ISO 1000 to get my shutter speeds near 1/320th second, I can still obtain clean images.

 

Trout LilyTrout Lily

Another great tool for macro work is the Plamp, shown here.  This version fits over a screw driver that goes into the ground.  The flexible arm is very sturdy and is strong enough to hold a small diffuser.  There are other versions that can clamp on a tripod leg.  I have two Plamps.  Sometimes I use one to hold the flower stem and another to hold a diffuser.  They work great.

 

 

While photographing this tulip, I used a piece of 8 x 10 foam board with a texture print glued to it.  My Plamp came in handy to hold the texture behind the tulip. This can be very useful when the actual background is not very attractive.  During post processing I also applied a bit of the Orton effect using Luminar 4.  It adds a nice tone to images in some cases.

Tulip with TextureTulip with Texture

 

My wife had some straw flowers so I photographed this one with my Velvet 85.  Instead of placing a texture foam board behind it I chose to blend a texture in during post processing.  It can create quite a different feel for the image.

 

Straw Flower with TextureStraw Flower with Texture
 

This last image is a branch of a dogwood tree from a neighbor's yard.  Lensbabys are great for many types of photography.  You can give a totally different look to subjects using them.  Here you can see the softness the lens creates to the blossoms.

 

Dogwood BranchDogwood Branch
 

One way to add a different look and feel to your photography is to use a Lensbaby lens.  There are many different versions - all provide a different look.  But even if you don't have a Lensbaby lens, I encourage you to try out macro photography.  There is a whole new tiny world to capture out there and its beautiful.

If you like this post or not, please drop me a note.  I loved to hear your comments.

Happy shooting, Reid 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) flowers lensbaby macro nature plamp velvet 85 wild flowers https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2021/4/spring-flowers-are-blooming Sun, 25 Apr 2021 15:54:34 GMT
Welcome to the Artistic World of Lensbaby Lenses https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2021/3/welcome-to-the-artistic-world-of-lensbaby-lenses Toward the end of last year, I started to see some images on Instagram and Facebook of these absolutely beautifully different flowers.  Different not in the type of flower but in the way they were presented and processed.  There was something that I couldn't explain.  For the most part it was the lenses that were being used to photograph the flowers.  They were from Lensbaby.

I had heard of Lensbaby but they never really caught my eye until now.  I began to really admire the work of two professional flower photographers who use Lensbaby lenses a great deal.  They are Kathleen Clemons and Anne Belmont.  If you have not heard of them, look them up on Google and study their images.  Their images are so artistic and abstract in some cases. Their work really lit an interest in me to study more about Lensbaby lenses.

If you're not familiar with Lensbaby, I encourage you to check out their website.  All of their lenses are prime, meaning they have a fixed focal length.  They are also fully manual, i.e., no auto focusing.  You need to adjust the aperture with a dial on the lens itself just like in the old days.  At small apertures, most of their lenses are very sharp.  But the beauty of Lensbaby lenses comes in the larger apertures.  They produce an ethereal "glow" around the edges of objects.  At f1/8, very little of the photo will be in focus creating an incredible bokeh, not replicated in "normal" lenses.  Search for YouTube videos by Anne Belmont or Kathleen Clemons.  They will share their technique and the wonderful results.

This is my first photo using my Lensbaby Velvet 85.  I love this lens.  This first experiment really didn't do justice to Lensbaby.  But you can see the "glow" around the edges that they can produce.  This was an indoor shoot using off camera speed lights in softboxes with a green back drop.

White LilyWhite Lily

Here in my second attempt with a yellow rose.  I used a wider aperture and you can really get a sense of the softness the lens provides.  This was also shot using my Velvet 85 and used speed lights in soft boxes.

Yellow RoseYellow Rose

In the image below I began to experiment with textures.  If you look at Kathleen Clemons online store, she sells sets of beautiful textures, which can be applied with Photoshop and other comparable software.  Here, I used a somewhat muted pinkish texture to help provide a bit of color.  You can begin to see the artistic element the lens provides.  The creative possibilities are endless.

Pink CameliaPink Camelia

In this final image I tried something entirely new for me that I picked up from a video from a Kathleen Clemons' course in Creative Live.  Not only does it add a texture but then adds a layer mask to gently allow some of the unaltered image show through the texture.  The "look" may not be for everyone but I love it.  It can allow your creativity to run wild.

Pink HyacinthPink Hyacinth

If you do visit the Lensbaby website, you'll seen many different uses for them.  Portraits are particularly nice.  Still life photos could also do well using a Lensbaby.  I'm not sure landscape photography would be great with them however.

With spring quickly approaching I'm really looking forward to getting to some gardens to see what I can create with these lenses. If you do ever buy one, be aware there is a learning curve when using them.  I can become frustrated with myself.  But when I get a keeper, it makes it all worthwhile.

Until next time, happy shooting.

 

 

 

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) flowers lensbaby macro soft soft focus velvet 85 https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2021/3/welcome-to-the-artistic-world-of-lensbaby-lenses Wed, 10 Mar 2021 21:25:37 GMT
Branching Out https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2021/2/branching-out In late September 2020, the autumn colors were just beginning to pop in western North Carolina.  My  friend, Charles, and I took off early on this Saturday morning to visit Sams Branch Falls.  I had been to Sams Branch Falls before but it didn't really do much for me.  But Charles had never seen it so off we went.  Located not too far south of Sunburst Falls on NC215, it's trail head is not easy to find and has no real markings.  

The start of the hike is a short but steep climb.  As I was going up I wondered how the heck I was going to get down.  The hike is pretty short and pretty easy.  We heard the falls before we could see it and from the sound we expected good water flow.  The trail gets a bit more challenging once you get to the waterfall as you have to leave the trail and descend a steep hillside a short ways.  From there you have to maneuver up and around wet slippery rocks and boulders.  But when you see the waterfall, it is so worth it.

Sams Branch Falls - Sept 2020Sams Branch Falls - Sept 2020

You can see some of the rocks you have to get around to capture new compositions.  But the early morning light was soft and wonderful.

After shooting here for awhile, Charles wanted to try to find Lower Bubbling Springs Branch Falls.  The trailhead was located on NC 215 just south of where it crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I had tried to find this falls with another friend but we couldn't follow the directions and never found it.  Charles and I started off and made several false starts again.  But the process of elimination and sheer stubbornness finally paid off.  There were a few stream crossings along the way and the final stretch was walking in the stream, which was pretty slippery.  At this point all we were doing was following the water upstream heading toward the sound of the waterfall.  But once again, our efforts paid off and we reached it.

Lower Bubbling Springs Branch Falls - Sept. 2020Lower Bubbling Springs Branch Falls - Sept. 2020

There were only a couple of places to safely set up a tripod.  As you can see, the rocks were covered with very slippery moss, which made moving around very difficult.  Conditions were still good with the sun not yet hitting the water here.  So moving quickly we got off as many shots as we could.  But our luck did not last for long and the bright sun poured out onto the water bringing a great morning to an end.

But what a successful day.  Revisited one waterfall in excellent conditions with blooming autumn colors and another seen for the first time.  A winning day for sure.  I could hardly wait for my next autumn adventure.

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) lower bubbling springs branch falls moss nature nikon north carolina reid northrup rocks sams branch falls water waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2021/2/branching-out Sun, 07 Feb 2021 17:52:22 GMT
Visit to Upper Sols Creek Falls - A True Masterpiece of Nature https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2021/2/visit-to-upper-sols-creek-falls---a-true-masterpiece-of-nature It's been much too long since I added a post so I'll be trying to make up for lost time.  I'll start by sharing images and stories of some of my best autumn images taken last year.  While 2020 will always be known for the COVID-19 pandemic, there was one bright spot - the autumn colors.  We've lived here in western North Carolina for six autumn seasons and, by far, the color in 2020 was the best I've seen here.  Just spectacular.  Additionally, we had some heavy rains, which for the most part really helped waterfalls perk up.  

My first good autumn outing was a new waterfall, Upper Sols Creek Falls.  I saw a nice image on it taken in mid-September by a friend of mine.  Sometime ago, I did try to find the waterfall but just had no luck.  Lots of streams to cross, which made the going tough.  My friend said it was quite easy to find so I decided to give it a go again.  While it wasn't without some mishaps, I'm so glad I persisted and finally got there albeit a bit wet.

The day I went was one of those perfect days when everything comes together.  Good cloud cover to provide nice even light, no wind, and a waterfall too difficult and off the beaten path to have other people running around it.  So I got up early one morning and took off.  The first hurdle was just finding the trailhead.  I used the directions provided in Kevin Adams' waterfall book.  His mileage tends not to agree with my odometer as was the case this day.  But eventually I found the guardrail by a stream he noted.  Following his trail directions and those of my friend I set out.

The first stream came up quickly.  With recent rains, the water was really flowing and was just under knee high.  Luckily, this time, I got across the slippery stream OK.  There were some trail markers that helped for a while.  But then the trail markings and Kevin's directions didn't match up.  Following the trail markings seemed right so I followed them...that is, until they stopped.  This is after I made another slippery stream crossing.  At this point I could hear the waterfall and it sounded big.  So I decided to follow the trail, what little there was, and the sound of the waterfall.  But then the trail evaporated.  So now what?  The waterfall couldn't be too far away but how to get to it?  This is where my better judgement left me.  Oh, and did I mention I went alone?  Yeah, not a good idea but I did have a Garmin emergency beacon if I got into trouble.

So I decided to try to walk the stream to find it.  I was obviously off course but I wasn't going to quit now when I'm so close.  Then I come to some very large trees that had fallen across the stream.  OK, now what do I do?  Oh, what the hell, climb over them, right?  But once over, I find this just isn't my day and I realize I'm not going to find this waterfall.  So, reluctantly, I turned around and head back.  Getting back over the downed trees going downstream proved much more difficult.  So as I was trying to slip my feet back into the stream, they slipped and down I went into the stream getting totally submerged.  My only thought is..."oh, *#&%(*$, MY GEAR!!"  "*#&%*(@##".  I got up and managed to walk the stream to the bank and pondered just how bad the damage was.  Somehow, nothing was damaged.  My camera and lenses all worked. The interior of my camera bag was dry.  OMG!!  Even my phone and Garmin still worked.

Dejected and wet, I decided that was it and headed back to the car.  As I was nearing my car, I realized this day had such prime conditions that I may never have them again.  So, still soggy, I turned around and headed back.  This time, however, I didn't follow the trail tape at one stream crossing and tried to make sense of Kevin Adams' directions.  I walked upstream but on the other side of the stream from where I was before and sure enough I found a little thin trail.  It went steeply up at first, which made me wonder if this was correct but eventually I could hear the sound of the waterfall getting louder.  Eventually, the waterfall came into view and this is what greeted me.

Upper Sols Creek Falls - October 2020Upper Sols Creek Falls - October 2020 Did I say conditions were perfect?  My jaw dropped.  What an incredible sight to see.  On this day, I'm not sure there was a more stunning waterfall to see.  And, I had it all to myself!!  But as I tried to maneuver around I quickly realized I found another big problem.  All the rocks I needed to walk on were covered with wet slippery leaves on top of slimy terribly slippery moss.  It was just like trying to walk on wet ice.  No footing at all.  I don't know how I managed not to fall down several times.  At times, I just went on all fours to move a bit.  Getting my tripod and camera set up was very difficult as was just standing upright long enough to take some shots.  While I would have liked to roam around the area a bit, I only moved to three vantage points to shoot.  I felt I used up all of my luck on this day and I still needed to cross a few creeks to get back to my car.  So I snapped off these photos before calling it a day.

Upper Sols Creek Falls - October 2020Upper Sols Creek Falls - October 2020

Upper Sols Creek Falls - October 2020Upper Sols Creek Falls - October 2020

I took many different shots with varying focus points and exposures so I would hopefully get some "keepers" to remember the day.  So I was thrilled and, yes, still very wet, but I was happy to have found this beauty and was ready to head home.  I managed to get back to my car in one piece with my gear and body intact.

When I loaded my images into Lightroom, my jaw dropped again when I saw what I got.  These may be among the best images I've ever taken.  I was so pleased with the great fall colors that day as well as near perfect water flow.  I couldn't have asked for anything better.  And the fall shooting season was just getting started.

Coming up, I'll share more photos I took this past autumn season.  After that, I'll share how I discovered the wonderful world of Lensbaby artistic lenses.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) fine art forest landscape long exposure nature nikon north carolina reid northrup rocks stream trees upper sols creek falls waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2021/2/visit-to-upper-sols-creek-falls---a-true-masterpiece-of-nature Tue, 02 Feb 2021 21:37:22 GMT
A Great Landscape Photography Tool https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/10/a-great-landscape-photography-tool There are so many camera gadgets out there today.  Sellers try to lure you into buying trying to raise your hopes they will improve your photographs.  While some are essential, e.g., tripod, circular polarizers, neutral density filters, many make promises they can't keep.  The surest way to make better photos is to learn how to use your camera and some composition basics.

However, I have found one unconventional piece of camera "gear" that you may not think much about.  Water boots.  Yup, water boots.  Now I have waterproof hiking boots but that's not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about those knee high rubber boots.

A friend of mine gave me an extra pair he had and I can't believe I didn't get them sooner.  Since I really love waterfalls and do not really enjoy getting my feet wet, I was limiting the compositions I could get.  I would just slip on some cheap beach shoes for some level of foot protection but in western North Carolina the water in the streams is very cold.  This limits how long I stay in the water.  When I use water boots, I'm very comfortable and can move around easily provided the water is not higher than the boots.  

I find know that my compositional possibilities have increased when I visit waterfalls or cascades now.  I have revisited waterfalls and found new ways to photograph them.  Many are much better.

Of course, there are a few downsides of using boots or just getting in the water for that matter.  The primary one is you slip and your equipment takes a bath and no longer works.  Not to mention you could get hurt too.  The other is that they weigh more than regular hiking boots.  I slip them on before I hit the trail and just hike in them vs. trying to carry them with me.  They're pretty comfortable to hike in.  But when you do a two mile hike downhill to your destination they seem a lot heavier when you have to walk back uphill.  It is worth it to me for the flexibility they provide.  When I visit a new location, I try to determine if there will be any benefit in wearing them.  I talk to others who have been there or looked at videos to see if I see compositions from being in the water.  But when in doubt, I wear them.  So far so good.

So if you like waterfalls and moving water, think about water boots.  They just may become essential gear you always want to have with you.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/10/a-great-landscape-photography-tool Sun, 11 Oct 2020 21:57:43 GMT
Safety First - How To Protect Yourself on the Trail https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/9/safety-first With temps starting to gradually fall, we're all looking forward to getting out with our cameras to enjoy and photograph the autumn colors.  But I wanted to write a post I've not often seen much or discussed, SAFETY.  As I continue to add to my age, the body is getting older and some health issues are cropping up.  So safety when I'm hiking in the middle of nowhere and without cell phone coverage is important no matter what your age.  Anyone can easily slip or twist or break an ankle.  Not taking the proper safety precautions may put you in a dire situation.  So what can you do to mitigate some typical safety concerns?  The following suggestions won't be exhaustive by any means.  I'm sure many of you can provide many other important risk mitigators.

Use the Buddy System

This one is self-explanatory.  There is safety in numbers.  If you're heading out into the wilderness or just out of cell phone range, go out with a friend or two.  Then, in case something were to happen, there is someone to seek help and provide aid.

Inform Someone Where You Are Going

Again, a no brainer but how many times have you forgotten to do it.  Let someone know that you're heading out, where you'll be and approximately when you'll be back.  If you forget to check in, someone will know approximately where you are and can call for help.

Water / Snacks

While this may be obvious, having enough water with you is essential to your safety and comfort.  You are burning a lot of calories while hiking and you need to stay hydrated.  By the time you realize you have sun stroke, it could be too late.  Always have a few high energy snacks with you to provide a little bit of a boost while you're out on the trail.

Get an Emergency Beacon

I use a Garmin SE Reach+ GPS device for this purpose.  This unit has a "SOS" button.  When activated it will send your exact GPS coordinates to someone who will get help to you.  One word of caution.  The device must have a clear view of the sky.  If your are in a cave or a very thick forest, the device may not be able to connect to the satellite.  So be aware of that point.

also have the ability to text to provide information to first responders.  One thing I use all the time are its three predefined and "free" texts to your specified emergency contact.  For me, that's my wife.  Depending on the monthly plan you subscribe to, you only get so many texts before they get costly.  With the predefined texts I can tell my contact; (1) I'm starting my hike, (2) Something came up, I'm OK but will be late, or , (3) I'm on my way home.  The messages can be anything you choose.  

There are several other advanced features like downloading trail maps, setting waypoints, etc.

This unit is around $350 and I use the cheapest monthly plan of $13 per month.  Not cheap but is it worth your safety and peace of mind.  

Trail Tape

I always have a roll of orange trail tape with me.  Most of the time it isn't necessary as I'm on marked well-groomed trails.  But lately, I've been visiting new more remote waterfalls.  Trails are sketchy at best. So I use the tape to tie on tree branches along my way in so I can find my way out.  This has already saved me twice this year. This tape is only a few dollars.

Correct Footwear

This may be obvious but all too often I see people hiking with flip-flops.  I good pair of sturdy hiking boots will help protect your feet and provide much better support and footing.  Trails can be slippery and feet slip. Protect yourself from twisting an ankle or foot or little biting bugs.  Some trails can be along high ridges or with steep drop-offs.  If you lose one of the flip-flops, you're stuck with a bare foot.

Whistle and Flashlight

These are not expensive and could save your life.  Just last year a friend and I were down in the Linville gorge in western North Carolina shooting a waterfall during autumn.  We had absolutely perfect conditions and were having a load of fun.  Time got away from us and we realized that we stayed past sunset and it was quickly getting dark.  The hike up the trail isn't easy even in the daylight but doing it in the dark would have been impossible.  But we had flashlights with us.  Even with those, it was challenging, and a bit creepy I might add, climbing up in the darkness.  It was very disorienting.  Had we not had the flashlights, we would have been staying the night in very cold conditions.

Whistles are obviously for calling for help or letting your hiking partner know where you are.  Recently, a whistle proved very helpful during a hike.  Normally when I photograph with someone, we agree to stick relatively close together.  But this time, I went back up the trail and off trail a bit.  In the dense woods, I couldn't be seen.  But with the whistle, I was able to let my friend know where I was.

Hiking Poles

Hiking with poles might be something most people just do not want to bother with.  When I shoot waterfalls, I'm often in the stream. Poles come in very handy for me to provide extra balance when I'm maneuvering on slippery rocks.  For me, they also take pressure off my legs as I'm using my arms and shoulders to climb uphill.

In western North Carolina, I'm always out in the deep woods.  We have two poisonous snakes here, copperheads and rattlesnakes.  Lovely, right?  While I primarily use my poles for support, they come in very handy when checking for snakes.  I never step over a log or reach up somewhere I can't see without taking my pole and doing a little probing.  They come in handy too when I'm off trail and I can use them to clear leaves in front of me in case a snake is around.  I've been very fortunate that in five years living here, I've never seen one.  Oh, one thing I've learned is that rattlesnakes don't always use their rattler to let you know you're too close so be careful.  

No Brainers...maybe

Some obvious things you might also have with you in your car are sun screen, bug spray, and a first aid kit.  I do keep a first aid kit in my car.  But that won't do me much good if I need it out on a trail.  But you can only carry so much in your bag.   If you live in bear country, don't forget bear spray and know how to us it.  In NC we have plenty of black bears but they are not normally aggressive towards humans so I forego spray.  If it's hunting season, wearing bright clothing or baseball cap could also be a good safeguard.  

For Those on Blood Thinners

My doctor put me on blood thinners earlier this year.  I really didn't think much about it.  That is, until recently.  A few weeks ago I was out, by myself, visiting a new waterfall, which was definitely off the beaten path.  While climbing around the wet rocks, my foot slipped and my knee banged a bit on a rock.  Not thinking much about it, I finished up and climbed back up to my car and headed home.  When I got home and showered, I realized my knee had become very swollen and was beginning to hurt.

​​​​​​​Since I was on a blood thinner I was concerned I still might be continuing to bleed around the knee.  I had it checked out and it was fine but three weeks later I still have a big knot below my knee.  So I'll be seeing a doctor about the best way to hopefully drain whatever is left in there.

But it got me thinking about what if something else had happened like slipping and cracking my head.  Instead of getting a good bump and a headache, I might be in some real trouble.  So, while extreme as it is, I'm going to take extra precautions going forward.  I'll be wearing a helmet along with elbow and knee pads.  My doctor thought that was very advisable for anyone on blood thinners.

Be Safe Out There

I hope you found this post useful.  The items I mentioned are largely very light and won't weigh you down.  Most of us don't really consider hiking as dangerous.  Most of the time, that's absolutely correct.  But you don't expect your house to burn down either but we all have insurance just in case.  The measures above could be life saving on the trail just in case something unexpected happens.  Stay safe.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) equipment gear hiking safety https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/9/safety-first Fri, 04 Sep 2020 19:40:08 GMT
Adventures in Photography https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/8/adventures-in-photography One of my photography goals for 2020 was finding and visiting new waterfalls.  I've been in western North Carolina for five years now and have gotten into a bit of a rut repeatedly going to the same locations.  Some of that was by choice, i.e., wanting to catch the location in prime conditions.  But now I have taken some of those images and was needing some new places to further motivate me.  Additionally, I was a bit more accepting to take on more challenging locations as long as I could do so safely.

The past month I've been pretty fortunate to have visited four new waterfalls.  I'll feature two here as the others, Scotsman Falls and Thunderhole Falls, did not have good conditions during my visit.  Both were very weak in water flow, which surprised me given all the rain we have had in August.

One great waterfall was Yellow Creek Falls located near Robbinsville, NC.  It's gorgeous and very photogenic.  The site is also clean of downed trees so there are multiple possible compositions.  On the day I was there the water flow was a bit high for my liking.  I'll definitely go back when it's down a bit.  Autumn colors would be incredible here.

Yellow Creek Falls - Aug 2020Yellow Creek Falls - Aug 2020

The view above let's you see there are some great little cascades downstream.  There are many ways to capture foreground interest and add leading lines to make stronger compositions.  In the photo below you can see that there are several large boulders in the water that add interest too.

Yellow Creek Falls - Aug 2020Yellow Creek Falls - Aug 2020

The hike in is pretty easy and short so that's nice for a change.  But that also makes it a popular place for people.  So if  you decide to visit, I'd go early.  And please don't do what I did by leaving a tripod there.  I was about two hours away when I realized it so I had to hustle back and luckily it was still there.  Whew!!

The next new waterfall I visited was Gage Falls, which I had never heard of.  I discovered it by looking through Kevin Adam's book on North Carolina waterfalls.  It's located not too far off the Blue Ridge Parkway by heading south on Hwy 215.  The trailhead wasn't too hard to find but you'd likely want to take a higher clearance vehicle.  The gravel road isn't too bad, however.  Once you reach the spot to find the trailhead is where the fun begins.  Since not many people visit this waterfall, the "trail" is not maintained and very overgrown, being nearly invisible in sections.  I was leaving trail markers throughout to help us find our way out.  The initial 75 yards of the trail are pretty easy but when you come to the stream there is no apparent trail on the other side.  You have to walk the creek briefly toward the right and you'll see it.

Just be sure to parallel the stream the entire way as you follow the trail.  In about 1/2 mile you'll see the top of the waterfall.  There is no trail to the falls itself.  Go back the trail a bit and you'll see the slope down to the stream that  is more manageable.  From here you'll just have to be careful and bushwhack your way down to the stream.  Once there, the easiest way back to the waterfall is walking the creek.  You'll need to be very careful here getting over some small cascades.  At the larger one, I just bushwhacked through some rhododendrons to get around it.  Then it was free sailing.  Here's the reward.

Gage Falls - Aug 2020Gage Falls - Aug 2020

We were greeted with stellar conditions.  The waterfall is nestled in with thick trees.  So even if you go on a sunny day you will have good conditions as long as you visit early.  By mid morning some sun will begin shining on the falls.  There is a lot of bright moss which adds so much to an image.  As I got a bit closer on the other side I took this photo.

Gage Falls - Aug 2020Gage Falls - Aug 2020

You can spend some time here getting your compositions worked out.  Plus it's simply a beautiful place to just enjoy the view and relax.  Getting out wasn't too bad but it was good I left trail tape as it really helped us finding our way out.  Please be careful if you go.  This is an isolated location.  The rocks are very slippery and it's very easy to fall.  There are some downed trees on the trail, which requires crawling under them.  

In my next post, I'll provide some hiking safety tips, which turns out I need to follow myself.  Happy shooting!!

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) blue ridge mountains blue ridge parkway forest landscape long exposure nature north carolina reid northrup trees waterfall waterfalls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/8/adventures-in-photography Thu, 27 Aug 2020 20:15:53 GMT
Great New Finds https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/7/great-new-finds After living here in western North Carolina now for five years, I really needed to find some new places to visit.  While I revisited some familiar places I was able to find some great new locations.  Even better... I found them on near perfect days with great conditions.

Early to mid-June brings the annual blooms of the wonderful catawba rhododendrons all over the mountains.  Two prime locations to photograph them in a stunning setting is along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Roan Mountain.  But I was shut out again this year in capturing the sort of image I was seeking.  The blooms were a bit late this year and are never really predictable.

A few years ago for some reason, park personnel cut down numerous rhododendron plants on the Parkway.  I think it may be because too many people were stopping along the road to photograph them.  Prime locations are now are essentially bare.  It was likely done for safety reasons as too many "less intelligent" tourists were causing traffic issues.  Once again, a few bad apples ruin it for everyone.  So I have to work with the ones that remain to get a good image.  The photo below is one I do like from this year.

Parkway Blooms -      June 2020Parkway Blooms - June 2020 One of the best places to photograph rhododendrons is on Roan Mountain.  Most of my photography friends noted this was one of the hardest years to get good images.  Most days were extremely foggy and rainy.  The day I went was suppose to be good.  But when I started to reach the top of Round Bald I was met with horrendously high winds.  It was a bit late in the bloom season there too.  So I had to write off Roan Mountain for this year and look forward to 2021.

While the rhododendron season may not have gone well, things turned around with some early waterfall outings.  I visited several wonderful new waterfalls and revisited some I hadn't been to in years.

One new waterfall I hiked to was Grassy Creek Falls.  How have I missed going here before?  While it's on private property, the owners have allowed visitors. But recently I've heard that has either changed or may be changing.  But I was lucky enough to have made it there in time.

Grassy Creek Falls - June 2020Grassy Creek Falls - June 2020 The day I visited the conditions were not the best as it was partly sunny.  For numerous compositions I had to wait for a passing cloud before snapping off the shutter.  This photo only shows the top portion of the total waterfall.  Below here are a couple more small drops and cascades.

One of the early waterfalls I visited upon moving to North Carolina was Dill Falls.  While it's nice I never really found it particularly good to photograph.  But one day I was nearby and I thought I'd revisit it.  I'm so glad I did.  During my previous visits my compositional skills were lacking.  That's not to say they're great today but I have improved in that respect.  I now know to explore more, which includes getting into the stream.  When safe, that is.  So that's what I did during this visit, i.e., got my feet wet.

Dill Falls - June 2020Dill Falls - June 2020

In earlier visits I was more to the right of this position.  There are a lot of downed trees, which reduce the quality of the image.  But by moving my vantage point, I was able to exclude that tree rubble and get a more interesting image in my opinion.  Given the closeness to the foreground leaves, I needed to focus stack four exposures to get a full range of detail focus.

My last image is once again from a waterfall in South Carolina that I visited a long time ago.  My first visit  to Virginia Hawkins Falls resulted in zero quality images mainly due to my poor photography skills at the time.  I just wasn't seeing the potential of the waterfall.  Then storms dropped a lot of large trees which totally ruined any chances of getting a quality image.

But recently I saw a photo of the falls and it was gorgeous so I knew I had to go back.  Apparently, a few well intentioned men got permission to clear out the downed trees.  They did an absolutely incredible job on what must have been days of very hard work.  But their efforts provide visitors to see a truly beautiful waterfall during good conditions.

During my recent visit we had just had some good rain so water levels were up a bit.  But on this day the flow could have been a bit better but everything else was perfect.

Virginia Hawkins Falls - June 2020Virginia Hawkins Falls - June 2020 This first image was from the far side of the falls.  Moving around those rocks was difficult as they were extremely slippery.  But as you can see the downed trees have been removed leaving just a beautiful, almost tropical scene.

The following photo was taken further up and to the right side of the falls.

Virginia Hawkins Falls - June 2020Virginia Hawkins Falls - June 2020

I felt so lucky to have been able to visit this spectacular waterfall with such good conditions.  I plan to go back after some harder rains.

The weather now is western North Carolina is the typical dry and warm weather we get in summer.  That has limited my excursions but I hope to make it out again soon.

For those of you who are out and about, please follow good personal practices for COVID-19.  Please wear a mask to help protect others and hopefully get a handle of this deadly virus.  Working together we can beat this thing and get back to normal.  Stay safe and take care.

 

 

 

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) blue ridge parkway forest landscape long exposure north carolina rhododendrons south carolina waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/7/great-new-finds Thu, 16 Jul 2020 17:36:21 GMT
Oh, It Feels So Good - But Still Social Distancing https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/6/oh-it-feels-so-good---but-still-social-distancing It is now mid-June and we're still dealing with the COVID-19 virus.  While I am still seriously practicing social distancing and always wear a protective mask while near people, it is good to be getting out  more.  While self protection is still very important, I'm surprised at the vast majority of people in our area who might feel the pandemic is over.  With hospitalizations on the rise, I hope you are staying safe and helping to keep others the same way.  Nuff said.

The weather in western NC has been pretty good for the most part.  We did get a period of prolonged heavy rain, which really made waterfalls simply too full to be good photographically.  If you do long exposure photography like I do, when water flow is hard and fast, the flow just looks like a big blob of white.  Slower flows allow some shrieks of water yielding more personality to the waterfall.  That's just my opinion.

The heavy flow rule notwithstanding, a good waterfall that really benefits from heavy rains is Duggars Falls.  Duggars is located right off the parking lot at the visitor's center at Linville Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Be prepared to get your feet at this one if you want to get the better compositions.

 

Duggars FallsDuggars Falls Duggars is normally a trickle of water.  But after really heavy rains, it starts looking really nice in its setting.  It is nestled in a mini-canyon of sorts as you can see above. Thick moss is on the side rocks which really adds a lot of spark and personality.  There are two pools of water downstream of the waterfall.  This photo shows the second one.  I'm standing in the first pool since its not nearly as deep.  Where I was standing it was just beneath my knees and a little slippery.  The second pool would be about waist high and I just don't want to risk my equipment if I would fall.  When conditions are right, like here, Duggars is really a good little waterfall.

Another waterfall I like that also benefits from very heavy rain is Moore Cove Falls located outside Brevard, NC.  Under normal conditions, the flow of the waterfall is extremely weak and not worth the hike.  But like pictured below, it makes a fairly nice subject to photograph.

Moore Cove FallsMoore Cove Falls

This waterfall posts some challenges to photograph.  The flow, even though fairly light, does create a breeze that really gets the nearby plants to move.  And I hate blur in my photos when not intended.  From this position the sun is to my back just after sunrise.  I started my hike at first light and it was pretty dark.  It was supposed to a sunny day so to have any hope of a decent shot I needed to be there early.

Another issue with the waterfall is that the water flow is so light, even when it's heavy, is that long exposure photos tend to make the water a bit invisible.  So I needed to clone in some water in a spots to connect the top flow to the bottom flow.  Hopefully, you can't tell where I did it.  

This is an extremely popular waterfall.  Even when the flow is terrible, the small parking area is full all day.  Don't really see the attraction. Perhaps it's simply the hike itself, which is pretty easy and not too long.

 

The next waterfalls are found in the northwest corner of South Carolina.  This area has tons of waterfalls.  A new friend has shown me several of them and I hope to see more coming up with him.

This first waterfall is Falls Creek Falls.  We visited three waterfalls this day all within very short proximity of each other on the stream.  This is the final one of the three.  I really didn't get very good photos of the other two.

Falls Creek FallsFalls Creek Falls

While I really like the waterfall itself, I feel it's hard to get a quality photo here because it lacks a good foreground element.  Luckily, there was this lone rock with some moss on it that I could use.  Otherwise you're sort of squeezed into a somewhat small area so you can't back up much to add anything else.  But I still enjoyed my time there.

Close by was another nice waterfall, Spoonauger Falls.  Like Falls Creek Falls, this was a new one for me. 

Spoonauger FallsSpoonauger Falls

Unlike Falls Creek Falls, Spoonauger provided some opportunity for a foreground.  You had to climb around a bit to get this angle but it wasn't too bad.  It was getting near midday here on a very sunny day.  I needed to do an HDR here, which I normally hate for waterfalls.  I feel it makes the water look really funky.  But I used Lightroom HDR after trying HDR Efex Pro and I don't think it looks too bad.  Not really print worthy but OK.  I'll definitely have to go back on a cloudy day or at least earlier in the morning.

For my last entry I think this is among my all-time favorite photographs.  It is the old Beech tree near the start of the Craggy Pinnacle Trail at Craggy Gardens along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I got up at stupid o'clock to get there early and hopefully get some early morning fog.  I lucked out and there was some thin fog in the area.  This tree is so picturesque due to the roots spreading out like a spider and all the ferns tucked between them.  Add to it the path for some leading lines and it makes for an interesting composition.

I really wish I had a 14mm super wide angle lens for this photo.  I would have like to got a bit more of the tree.  But even with my Nikon 17-15mm lens, I couldn't back up enough to adjust the composition.  I've tried to get a good shot of this tree for sometime and I think this time it turned out pretty well.

So far, I'm happy with how the year is starting off, photographically speaking of course.  I hope you're starting to get out yourself a bit.  Please be safe wherever you are and protect yourself and others from this deadly virus.

Please feel free to leave comments. I'd love to hear what you're shooting and what you think of my website.

 

 

 

 

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) duggars falls falls creek falls forest landscape long exposure moore cove falls nature north carolina south carolina spoonauger falls trees waterfalls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/6/oh-it-feels-so-good---but-still-social-distancing Mon, 15 Jun 2020 22:16:35 GMT
Photography and Covid-19 https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/5/photography-and-covid-19 I sincerely hope you and your family have been well and safe amidst the Covid-19 virus outbreak.  It's amazing how the world has changed in just a few months.  Fortunately, I have known only one person to have contracted it and after a month in the hospital including two weeks on a ventilator, they made it through OK.  

My wife and I have taken the stay at home suggestions to heart.  Being retired, it hasn't meant a huge change in our lifestyle but it is getting a bit old.  Nonetheless, even as North Carolina opens, we'll continue to listen to the experts and stay put.  But I must admit, I sure would like to go to some restaurants and movies again.  It does concern me that states are opening too quickly and that the virus will storm back.  If you venture out, for the sake of others and the medical community, please practice social distancing and wear a face mask.

In terms of photography, I haven't been doing much opting to try to stay away from other hikers and possible crowds.  But if I find a good weather day, I may head out to some of places where I know I won't run into people.  Before the virus really hit I managed to get to a small nearby waterfall that I've never been to before, Key Falls.  For this waterfall to be photogenic, it has to be seen after some heavy rains.  This was taken about two days after some rains.

Key FallsKey Falls

The area around the falls is very small and tight.  This is about the only decent composition I could get but I feel it still works.  I needed to use my 17-35mm wide angle lens to get the entire falls in frame.  Even though this photo was taken in early February, the waterfall is surrounded by thick rhododendrons, which provide a nice wrapping of green.

During the initial weeks of the virus outbreak, I just wasn't feeling like photography.  I thought I'd try some still life but with florists being closed and wanting to avoid food markets, my creativity for coming up with a composition wasn't good enough.

But then spring came and my wife's flowers started popping up.  That motivated me a bit to try some floral still life images.  This first image are some roses from my wife's garden.  I'm still experimenting with still life compositions.  While it may seem easy, trust me, it's not.  This is a very simple arrangement.  And, of course, the flowers are red and white, which for me, are rather difficult to light.  I would have preferred more of a pastel color.  But I'm happy overall with the result.  To finish off the post processing, I took the photo into Topaz Studio and applied one of the abstract presets.  But I really toned it down trying to add just a bit of the effect.  Both of these photos were shot with my Nikon 200mm macro lens.

RosesRoses

This second photo is a simple branch off one of our azalea bushes.  For the composition, I tried to make it look somewhat tree-like. Lighting was fairly straightforward.  These two photo were lit by two Nikon SB-910 speed lights in soft boxes.

AzaleasAzaleas

The Blue Ridge Parkway will be opening up this weekend.  I will likely head up to an area north of Asheville known as Craggy Gardens in a few weeks to photograph the beautiful blooming Catawba Rhododendrons.  Framing them with the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains in the background is such a gorgeous sight.  I would like to go out to many more places but with social distancing and needing to go alone, it will limit my locations.  I generally like to go out with a friend not only fun but also safety.  Please stay safe and well.  I'd love to hear from you on how you're dealing with the virus and what photography you've been able to do.  Drop me a note.

Thanks for visiting.  Reid

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(Reid Northrup Photography) floral flowers forest key falls landscape long exposure macro nature nikon north carolina petals river roses still life water waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/5/photography-and-covid-19 Fri, 15 May 2020 20:29:00 GMT
Goal for 2020 - Focus Stacking https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/3/goal-for-2020---focus-stacking It's been a while since my last post.  The weather has not been conducive for photography to a large extent.  Here in western North Carolina, we had a very mild winter - unusually wet and warm.  Waterfalls have been running much too hard.  Those warm temperatures are meaning a very early start to spring.  Pear trees are in full bloom as are the daffodils.  Tulips won't be far behind.

As I review my photos from last year I'm satisfied to a large extent.  But I do see a certain lack of sharpness in some of my photos.  So for 2020, my goal is to work on having sharper photos. One of the main ways I was to reach my goal is increasing my use of focus stacking.

Focus stacking is the process of taking a series of photographs and, using a post processing tool such as Photoshop, blending the best of each of those images to nail really sharp photos.  So, for example, in a typical (if there is such a thing) landscape scene with a waterfall the background with some interesting foreground (hopefully), you might take three photos.  One for the foreground, one for the middle and the last of the background.  In each of those compositions you would need to ensure you are focusing on something in each of those areas.

Another challenge for me in doing this is stopping my tendency of use small apertures like f/16 - f/22 rather than using one with more sharpness like f/8 or so.  Since my primary interest are waterfalls or cascading streams, I want to get a shutter speed of between 1-4 seconds to bring out that lovely dreamy silky water. But if I use f/10, the typical lighting conditions would not allow me to get those slow speeds even with, perhaps, a 3-stop ND filter.  The answer then becomes a stronger ND filter such as a 6-stop one.  Given that it's difficult to auto focus with this dark of a filter, my workflow will become slower.  Focusing would need to be set before the ND filter is on the lens and then there is a need to compute the shutter speed using various phone apps. Using these longer shutter times take longer.  So if conditions are changing rapidly you may miss an opportunity.  My nature is not one of having a ton of patience so it will take some work to slow down.

If you enjoy flower photography, focus stacking is nearly a must to use if you want sharpness throughout your main flower. This is especially so if you are using a macro lens.  There is definitely a bit of a learning curve here as it is very easy to miss a focus point and get a small area of blur in the final image.  Depending on the type of flower, it can many "focal planes".  This winter I've tried my luck at it and haven't faired too badly.  Luckily, I shoot with a Nikon D850 with the focus peaking feature.  Using Live-View, focus peaking outlines areas of focus in red.  So starting at the closest focus area you slowly focus at each further focus point until you hopefully hit each one.  Then you use Photoshop to auto stack focus layers into a single photo.  Pretty easy to do.

The Nikon D850 also has an auto stacking feature but I haven't really used it much.  I do need to spend a bit of time learning about it as that may smooth out my in-the-field workflow a bit.

Another method I need to use is setting focus at the "hyper-focal" distance.  But this is a subject I will cover in a future post.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/3/goal-for-2020---focus-stacking Fri, 13 Mar 2020 18:59:14 GMT
Holiday Still Life Photography https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/1/holiday-still-life-photography During the recent Christmas season, I began to see many wonderful still life photos posted on social media.  They motivated me to pull out my studio lights and give it a go myself.

Still life photography does not look overly difficult to the casual observer but for the novice it can be quite challenging.  "How so?" you may ask.  Well, the photographer has 100% complete control of everything.  Composition, color balancing, styling, lighting, concept and, of course, the camera settings themselves.  Being new to this myself, it can be a bit frustrating.

In this first photo, I used a decoration my wife made for Christmas.  To my untrained eye, the colors seemed nice and in keeping with the holiday colors of red and green.  The candle in the background is one of those artificial battery operated ones.  These work in our home as we have three cats and we do not need them messing around with a real flame.  But I needed something else and I remembered some other photos with background lights to create the bokeh effect you often see.

First, I set up my background stand using a black roll of paper.  Over the stand, I draped about three strands of Christmas lights.  I set up the decorations on a card table covered with a piece of black velvet.  Black velvet is great to have with still life  photography since it is not reflective.  I played with the placement of the card table in terms of the distance it was from the black background.  The further away the subject is from the background means the larger the bokeh effect you will achieve.  If I had placed them close together even while using a wide aperture, the lights would be more defined rather than soft and blurry.  Placing the table about four feet in front of the background provided the amount of bokeh I wanted.

I was surprised to see the lights were orange as I was thinking they were white.  I tried to change the color during post processing but finally left them orange.  In the end, I think it turned out OK.  To fill in some blank areas, I cloned in some additional lights in Photoshop.

To light the scene, I used two Nikon SB-910 speed lights in a 3' Profoto and 2' Godox softboxes.  They were set on the right and left sides.  My Nikon D850 with Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens used a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second, its sync speed, and an aperture of f/2.5.

 


 

This next photo is not a favorite of mine.  I show it to illustrate that still life, at least for me, is very challenging and takes lots of creativity and practice.  Here, I wanted the story to be freshly baked cookies cooling down.  I set everything up on a darkly stained wood background I made.  Some greens were added as well as the background Christmas tree ornament to add a bit of seasonal color.  The "hero" of the photo was the front toffee bar.  Some other cookies were added to help lead the eye further into the photo.  A bit of flour as sprinkled around to add a bit more realism.  But in the end, compositionally, it doesn't seem to work very well.

 

This photo used a simpler composition using just peanut clusters.  I swapped out the background using a faux granite.  A Santa and some berries were added for color and the spatulas added some cooking props.  The lighting and camera settings were nearly the same as before.  Overall, I was happy with this photo.  It doesn't seem cluttered to me and the colors seem to work.  When I posted this photo on social media, one person said they really liked the photo but that he did not like the yellow spatula.  It seemed OK to me but that is why understanding complementary colors in photography is so important.

 


 

This final photo is my favorite of all.  I raised my tripod high to get a more overhead composition.  Many food photographers have a camera arm that can take images from directly overhead.  But not having one, I got as close to overhead as I could.  Again, I tried to add some holiday colors by using some red cranberries along with some  greens cut from our Christmas tree.
 

During the winter months I want to continue practicing my still life photography.  The great thing about photography is that there are so many interesting facets of it.  There is so much to take in, practice and enjoy.  I encourage everyone to try out many areas of photography.  You may find some new passion.
 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) christmas cookies cooking family food photography holiday inviting santa still life warm https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2020/1/holiday-still-life-photography Sun, 05 Jan 2020 17:23:32 GMT
Autumn Photo Season https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/11/autumn-photo-season Continuing on my last blog, I have to think this may have not have been too bad of a fall season after all.   Sure wish I could have those three lost days when I was waiting for my photo gear to be replaced.  But overall, I'm satisfied with it.  I was lucky to have captured some locations at good times even though I missed several too.

One of my early stops was Skinny Dip Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This is always a very popular destination since it's beautiful and a fairly easy hike.  I took this photo near the top of staircase leading down into the falls.  Caught the colors just right.  When shooting in the fall, ALWAYS use your circular polarizer. It helps remove not only the shine from the water and rocks but also the leaves providing more color saturation to your image. 

Skinny Dip Falls  2015Skinny Dip Falls 2015Skinny Dip Falls - Blue Ridge Parkway

The next image is Linville Falls from down in the gorge.  As noted in my last post, the day was bright sunshine so my friend and I decided to meet at 4pm to hike down.  By the time we reached the bottom the sun had just sunk below the tree line above the falls.  Conditions were perfect; no wind, great colors, good water flow and no people.  With sunset around 5:45 or so, we wanted to leave around 5:30 so we wouldn't be hiking out in the dark.  Well with the great conditions we lost track of time as we tried to capture every possible composition we could think of.  By the time we looked at our watches it was nearly 6pm and getting very dark quickly. So we packed up and barely found our way to the main trail before total darkness set in.

Luckily my buddy had a headlamp, which was a lifesaver, literally.  I've never hiked out of anywhere in the dark and I'm not wanting to do it again.  Even with a headlamp, it's very disorientating and very easy to lose track of the trail.  But we took our time and finally got out.  

I really wanted to hit Linville Falls in prime autumn conditions and I got my wish.  I came away with several great images in my opinion.

 

Linville Falls Oct. 2019Linville Falls Oct. 2019  

 

A few days later, a couple of friends and I decided to take a look at Pearson Falls. Conditions were fairly good when we arrived but were expected to deteriorate quickly. I managed to get one photo I liked and it turned out very well in my humble opinion.
Pearson Falls  Oct. 2019Pearson Falls Oct. 2019

 

With leaf colors past peak around us, it was time to start heading west and south.  In early November, I headed to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park - the Tremont area to be more specific.  Weather conditions were expected to be good in the afternoon but to our dismay, the skies were very clear.  So he had to wait until late in the day and hurry to get some shots in before dark.  But we lucked out.  

Our first stop was Spruce Flats Falls located at the Smoky Mountain Institute.  The hike is 1.1 miles one-way and is moderately difficult, mostly at the front end.  But this is a beautiful waterfall in the right conditions.  On this day, the water flow was extremely light making a full frontal image not look particularly good.  So after canvasing the area for possible compositions, I landed on the near left side of the falls.  Most of the leaf color was gone but the one right near the falls provided the necessary "pop".

Spruce Flats Falls Oct. 2019Spruce Flats Falls Oct. 2019

After hurrying back to our car, we rushed further down into the Tremont area.  There is one cascade I particularly like.  You might agree that it's pretty spectacular in the right conditions, which we had.

Tremont Autumn Cascade    November 2017Tremont Autumn Cascade November 2017

With the Smokys pretty much past fall color, it was time to head further south into northern Georgia.  The Clayton area is very nice with many great photo locations.  Our first stop this day was Minnehaha Falls near Lake Rabun. Water flow was very low but was good enough.  It did allow us to move around, albeit with great caution being taken.  The rocks were extremely slippery so footing was terrible.  But by moving around, I was able to get some unique compositions that normally would not be possible under normal water flows.

Minnehaha Falls Oct. 2019Minnehaha Falls Oct. 2019  

Our next stop was Raper Creek Falls.  When I was here last year, I didn't have my wide angle lens, which was in being repaired.  My images were just OK and I knew if I had it I'd be able to really be able to get some much better compositions.  I think this image proves my expectation.

 

Raper Creek Falls Oct. 2019Raper Creek Falls Oct. 2019

On our way to our next location, we came across this curve in the road with the fence curving along with it.  We knew we had to pull over and see what we could do with it.

Rural Georgia Oct. 2019Rural Georgia Oct. 2019

Western North Carolina and the surrounding area is a great place to photograph in autumn. Start up  north on the Blue Ridge Parkway around the Linville Gorge and Linn Cove Viaduct during the second week of October....generally.  Work your way south and into the lower elevations such as Linville Falls.  Continue south around the Brevard area in mid-October and you'll generally find fantastic color.  Around this time as well is heading west toward the Cashiers and Highlands area.  Conditions weren't good this year so I didn't have much of an opportunity to shoot there this season.  In late October, the higher elevations of the Smokys start looking really good with the lower elevations peaking the first and second weeks on November.  Finally, try out north Georgia in early to mid November for their autumn colors.

Patience is really needed during the fall season.  Rain, wind and sunny skies are your enemy.  Weather forecasts around western North Carolina are notoriously bad.  So getting out early and staying out late should hopefully give you some good opportunities to capture some good images.

 

 

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) autumn carolina cascades exposure fall forest georgia long nature nikon north rocks south trees water waterfalls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/11/autumn-photo-season Mon, 25 Nov 2019 01:46:17 GMT
Fall is Fleeting https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/11/fall-is-fleeting Well, we're going into our second week of November and autumn colors are quickly fading across western North Carolina.  How'd you do with the fall photo season?  It was a tough one in my opinion.  With the warmer weather, colors up around the Blue Ridge Parkway were about two weeks late in starting.  Coupled with the dry warm summer, water flows in rivers and streams were very low.  So for early colors around streams and waterfalls, it wasn't the best time to photograph.  

Luckily, we did start to get some rain, heavy in places, which did help replenish water levels and flows.  I did manage to get some photos I liked.

This first one was taken at a new location a friend showed me.  It was around Looking Glass Falls.  We hit the colors near peak and conditions were perfect.

The morning of the same day I was in the DuPont State Forest at sunrise.  I started at Hooker Falls and found wonderfully warm light and no real wind.  This was taken before the recent rains but the waterfall flow was still great.

Hooker FallsHooker Falls

Hooker Falls - Oct. 2019Hooker Falls - Oct. 2019

After Hooker Falls, I hiked up to Triple Falls.  While this is a beautiful waterfall, I've never had much luck getting a photo I've really liked.  But on this day I lucked out.  It was still early in the morning and sky was clouded over.  A bit of fog was even evident. So while not my best work, I like this the best of the photos I have of Triple Falls.

Triple Falls - Oct. 2019Triple Falls - Oct. 2019

Colors around Grandfather Mountain were quickly fading when I was able to get up that way.  The forecast said cloudy skies in the morning with light wind.  Well, I got up there shortly after sunrise and skies were almost totally clear and the winds were really blowing hard around the Linn Cove Viaduct.  That area was pretty well ruled out then.  My friend and I decided to try shooting the bridge at the Roaring Fork turnout.  It was a bit protected so the wind was less of an issue.  Colors were pretty good but the water level, as you can see, was really low.  But overall, it's an OK shot but I was hoping for so much more.  But you take what you get, right?

Oct 2019Oct 2019

One of the better outings I had was hiking down to Linville Falls late one afternoon.  It was a very sunny day so getting there before sunset was the only good time to shoot this great waterfall.  Luck was with us and conditions were perfect, i.e., no wind, no people, good water and great colors.  We thought we'd have an hour to shoot before sunset but ended up staying longer and it was getting quite dark down there.  We managed to get on the trail before is got totally dark but did have to hike up in the dark with one headlamp.  I have not done that before and it's very disorienting and not easy to follow the trail.  But for the great time we had, it was well worth it.

Linville Falls - Oct. 2019Linville Falls - Oct. 2019

The last location I hit through mid-October was Dry Falls.  I was holding a private workshop and took my client there late in the day.  We lucked out and conditions were very good.  If we had arrived a week later the water flow would have been awful with the heavy rains we had.  Here, in the lower flow, the water had more character, which I prefer.  This is one shot I was able to take while my client was busy with his shots.

Dry Falls - Oct. 2019Dry Falls - Oct. 2019 So I guess it was a pretty good start to the autumn photo season.  As I posted last time, I lost all of my gear late October and had to replace all of it.  During the week it took to arrive, I missed three stellar days with great conditions.  Grrrrr!!  Oh well, there's always next year, right?

I'll be sharing more after I try to get to South Carolina and northern Georgia to catch the last of there autumn season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) autumn forest landscape long exposure north carolina trees waterfalls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/11/fall-is-fleeting Fri, 08 Nov 2019 22:00:27 GMT
The Importance of Insuring Your Photography Equipment https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/10/the-importance-of-insuring-your-photography-equipment Being the cautious type naturally, I've always been one to get all the insurance products I need.  When I started to really upgrade my camera gear several years ago, I wanted to be sure my insurance policy covered it.  Now, the insurance company I use for my home is likely not the same one you have.  So it's important to talk to your agent to fully understand how exactly your gear is covered and for how much.

I learned a couple of days ago just how important it is to insure your gear.  I lost everything in a freak accident.  I was picked up by a couple friends to go to a new waterfall.  As their gear was already in the back, I crammed my gear on top, shut the back hatch and off we went.  Since my friends like to drive with the windows open, we didn't realize the back door reopened until we were about a mile away.  The driver got out, closed the door and off we went.  No one thought to check to see if all the gear was still in the back.

So we got to the waterfall, which was about an hour away and got out to get our gear.  Well, mine wasn't there.  It must have fallen out!!  So we headed back to try to find it.  Shortly thereafter, the Sheriff's Department called saying someone turned in my camera bag but that it had been hit my another car since it was dark outside.  I lost a camera, three lenses, all my filters and other miscellanies items.  Total loss was nearly $10k.  But I did insure the big ticket items fortunately.  But how much of the loss would really be covered?


For me, under my normal homeowner's policy, my gear would be covered at home or away from home.  However, it would be subject to a deductible, depreciation and you'd likely only be covered for the replacement value.  So if you have an expensive camera, after these deductions, you may still need to come up with some big money to replace it.

To avoid this and get the full value without any deductible and depreciation, you have to "schedule" each item you want to be insured.  You provide the make and model and value you're insuring it for to your insurance company.  These items would raise you premium.  So for about $9000 worth of coverage I pay around $200 per year.  I still have several items not covered such as all my filters, camera bag, etc.

So for my loss, I still am working through the claim.  I have to provide photos of the damaged items, provide a full list of them including a description, serial number, where and when I purchased it and the purchase price, and finally copies of the invoices for all the replacement items.

For the items I had "scheduled" I should get the full value I had it insured for.  So for example, I insured my camera for $3200 but it now costs $2800.  If it is scheduled I expect to get $3200.  If it were not scheduled, I'd have to pay the deductible and depreciation off the current market price of the camera.  So I'd get much less than $3200.  I'll find out what my true replacement cost will be once my claim is fully settled.

But the thing I want to stress, get your gear insured or you could potentially face having to come up with a lot of money to replace your gear.  Everyone will need to take into consideration the cost/benefit of purchasing insurance.  But in this case, I'd likely not be able to afford to repurchase all of my damaged gear at one time.

An alternative to using your homeowner's policy is to join PSA, the Photographic Society of America.  With your membership they provide free insurance for your gear.  I have not reviewed it so I can't tell you if it is good coverage.

If you don't have your gear insured, take some time to think about it and do some investigating to help protect it in the event of loss or damage.  You won't be sorry.

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/10/the-importance-of-insuring-your-photography-equipment Sun, 27 Oct 2019 15:22:12 GMT
Fall Color Report for Western North Carolina https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/10/fall-color-report-for-western-north-carolina We're heading toward the end of October and there is a lot of color activity going on around western North Carolina.  Colors seem to be changing later this year likely due to the unusual warm weather we had in September and early October.  But colors and quickly appearing and disappearing too.

Around the Hendersonville and Brevard area, the colors have peaked and after some heavy rains today, the trees may have lost a lost of their leaves.  I was around the Looking Glass Falls area just yesterday, see image below, and I couldn't believe how fast the leaves were dropping.

Started my day at Hooker Falls in the DuPont State Forest and colors were very nice there.  But don't think they will last much longer.

Hooker Falls - Oct. 2019Hooker Falls - Oct. 2019

Hooker FallsHooker Falls

My next stop in DuPont was Triple Falls.  Colors appeared to be near or at peak.

Triple Falls - Oct. 2019Triple Falls - Oct. 2019

I'm heading up to Linville Falls tomorrow.  I have seen photos and the colors appear to be reaching peak around the falls right now.  The Linville Gorge itself is still pretty green at the moment.

I was around the Linn Cove Viaduct this past Sunday and the colors weren't great, plus it was super windy.  We continued a bit north to Rough Ridge to photograph the bridge and the colors looked poor and beyond peak.  Further north we stopped at the Boone Fork turnoff to photograph the bridge.  Amazingly, the colors looked pretty good but the water levels were very low.

Oct 2019Oct 2019

Further west around Cashiers and Highlands, colors were just getting started, at peak, or past peak.  Whitewater Falls was just starting to get colors and I may revisit there Friday.  Dry Falls was close to peak. 

Dry Falls - Oct. 2019Dry Falls - Oct. 2019

Finally, my understanding is that the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is at peak for the highest elevations near Clingman's Dome.  Lower elevations are just getting started.  

I'll try to post shortly once I get back from far western North Carolina and the Smoky's.  Rain is in our forecast beginning Sunday through most of the extended forecast.  Enjoy autumn's show!!

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(Reid Northrup Photography) autumn blue ridge parkway dry falls forest hooker falls landscape long exposure nature nikon north carolina reid northrup trees triple falls waterfalls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/10/fall-color-report-for-western-north-carolina Tue, 22 Oct 2019 19:43:02 GMT
Western North Carolina Autumn Color Report Oct. 1 https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/10/western-north-carolina-autumn-color-report-oct-1 A friend and I took a ride up to the northern section of the Blue Ridge Parkway on Oct. 1st.  We started at Linville Falls and walked to the Gorge Overlook.  There was barely any evidence of colors changing at that time.  As we rode north on the Parkway, there were some leaves with nice color but it was not common place.  Next stop was Beacon Heights.  No apparent color from the top there either.  We ended the day at Price Lake and ran into just the slightest hint of the start of some colors.  A friend recently posted a shot from the Cowee Overlook which is south of Graveyard Fields.  There was some autumn colors in the valley, which surprised me.

The other disappointing element is the much reduced level of water around western North Carolina.  Hooker Falls in the DuPont State Forest area has very low flow as of yesterday.  Linville Falls looked good however.  The creek flowing below the bridges at Rough Ridge and the Boone Fork Trail are barely flowing.  We are finally get some light rain today but I don't think it will be enough to juice up water levels.

I'm planning on another tour of the area on 10/16 and will report my findings.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/10/western-north-carolina-autumn-color-report-oct-1 Sat, 05 Oct 2019 15:39:54 GMT
Eastatoe Falls - RIP!! https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/9/eastatoe-falls---rip Well, we were told it was going to happen and today I found out that it's happened.  The new owners have shut down Eastatoe Falls.  I went there this morning hoping for one more chance to photograph this beautiful waterfall.  But instead I was greeted with this "friendly" notice.  I fully understand the owners have the right to do with their property what they like.  But it just seems to me this sign sort of pokes us in the eye.  New Rules....really?  I think they could have said something like they couldn't accept the liability risk or anything else.  I just didn't care for this sign.

I was lucky enough to visit this lovely waterfall probably 20+ times so I've had my opportunities.  I feel bad that many people will try to visit only to be disappointed for not getting their chance.

Eastatoe Falls - I bid you adieu.  

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/9/eastatoe-falls---rip Sat, 14 Sep 2019 18:31:32 GMT
Access to Estatoe Falls to End https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/8/access-to-estatoe-falls-to-end I'm sad to report that access to Eastatoe Falls will soon, if not already, be stopped.  Good sources report that the current owner has sold the property.  Unfortunately, the new owner has said they will not allow visitors on the property.  This is very disappointing news but was likely to happen eventually as the current owner was getting older.

I am aware that the Nature Conservancy had offered to purchase the property some time ago but the owner wanted too high of a price for the property.

Eastatoe Falls was perhaps the most beautiful of all the North Carolina waterfalls.  I have visited the waterfall likely more than 20 times in the past four years.  It presented so many photographic compositions and moods that being there was always a joy.

If you want to still photograph it, you better do it quickly.  Here is what we'll be missing.

Tropical EastatoeTropical Eastatoe ​​​​​​​

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/8/access-to-estatoe-falls-to-end Fri, 09 Aug 2019 15:44:39 GMT
Private Digital Photography Lessons and Tours https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/6/private-digital-photography-lessons-and-tours If you are new to digital photography or just can't get out of using Auto mode or need some in the field instruction, please contact me for private lessons.  There is no better way to learn than from personal one-on-one instruction.  Yes, YouTube has great material, but I guarantee I will advance your photography knowledge much faster than watching videos.  I'll help you set up your camera menus to get the best results.  If needed, I can cover all the basic photography terms you will need to understand, such as;

  • What is aperture and how does it apply to depth of field?
  • What is shutter speed and what is the best speed to use in different scenarios?
  • ​​​​​​​What is ISO and why is it important?
  • How do I use other shooting modes like aperture priority, shutter priority or even the scary manual mode?
  • What is exposure compensation?

For those wanting more advanced instruction, I will help you understand, for example;

  • HDR or high dynamic range photography
  • Focus stacking and why and when it's needed
  • Shooting multiple images to later blend in Photoshop
  • How to shoot long exposure photographs and what equipment is needed
  • Proper focusing techniques to ensure maximum sharpness in your photos

If all you want is help finding the best locations to shoot in western North Carolina, I can get you into some prime locations.  Whether it be one of the hundreds of waterfalls we have to the grand landscapes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I will get you there at the right time to capture beautiful photographs.

For more information, use the contact form to reach me.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) digital camera instruction north carolina photo tours photography photography lessons tutoring https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/6/private-digital-photography-lessons-and-tours Sat, 22 Jun 2019 18:42:18 GMT
Put Linville Falls on your next hiking trip https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/5/put-linville-falls-on-your-next-hiking-trip  

It's been about two years since my last visit to Linville Falls and I've really missed it.  It's often featured in many publications where there is a reference to North Carolina waterfalls.  As you can see in the photos that follow, it's very understandable.  It's simply gorgeous.

To find Linville Falls, go to Milepost 316.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is about a mile north of US221.  There are two primary hiking trails from the Visitor Center.  If you take the trail to the right it will take you up to a few overlooks.  The first is an overlook from the top of the waterfall.  Interesting but not really photogenic.  Up the hill a bit further is Erwins View, about .90 miles from the Visitor Center and is a steady moderate hike.  From Erwins View, you can see Linville Falls from quite a distance.  In my opinion, it's not the best photo opportunity but provides a great view of the Linville Gorge.

The best views of the falls are by taking the hiking trails to the left of the Visitors Center; the Plunge Basin Overlook or the Plunge Basin Trail.  The Plunge Basin Overlook hike is just under 0.6 miles and is a moderately easy hike.  The photos below was taken from the overlook while the Carolina Rhododendrons were in bloom.

Linville Falls - May 2019Linville Falls - May 2019

Linville Falls - May 2019Linville Falls - May 2019

 

 

The Plunge Basin Trail veers off to the left at about 0.3 miles and is a fairly difficult hike with steep grades with lots of roots and rocks.  An ankle buster for sure.  But if you're careful, it should not present a problem to the physically fit.  Once at the bottom, head to the right to get great views of the falls.  Getting close to the base of the falls can be a bit of challenge requiring crawling on rocks and using fallen logs as a footbridge.  During high water, do not attempt getting close to the base.  Swift currents could easily drag you downstream from the extremely slippery rocks.  On this visit, I also had to be careful going across uneven rocks with lots of loose slippery sand on them.

On this recent visit we were greeted with the trifecta of perfect conditions, i.e., cloudy skies, calm winds and no people.  It doesn't get much better.  There are many interesting photo compositions possible of the falls from down in the gorge.  Here are a few of my favorite photos from my visit.  My plan is to go back in autumn if I can time the changing leaves correctly.

But if you have never seen Linville Falls, it's one to definitely put on your waterfall hiking list.  You'll love it.

Linville Falls - May 2019Linville Falls - May 2019 Linville Falls - May 2019Linville Falls - May 2019 Linville Falls - May 2019Linville Falls - May 2019 If you enjoy fishing, this a great place to fish.  My hiking partner brought along his fishing pole and some worms.  When he was done shooting he fished and in just a little while had caught 16 of different varieties including a nice trout.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) blue blue ridge mountains caroline falls forest gorge landscape linville long exposure nature north parkway ridge river rocks trees waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/5/put-linville-falls-on-your-next-hiking-trip Sat, 25 May 2019 18:02:32 GMT
Issaqueena Falls - A South Carolina Beauty https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/5/issaqueena-falls---a-south-carolina-beauty Finally visited Isaqueena Falls for the first time.  What a beautiful waterfall!  As you can see from the photograph below, it has numerous possible compositions.  You will find many lenses handy to have with you when you visit.  Primarily a super wide angle lens of at least 16mm on a full frame camera would be the most useful.  Then a 24-120mm midrange as well as up to a 300mm telephoto lens to capture isolation shots.  Be careful when changing lenses as the falls generate some spray and breeze.

Isaqueena Falls is located just outside Walhalla, SC in the Stumphouse Tunnel Park.  Please search the web for directions.

There is a very short walk to an observation deck, where this photo was taken.  If you're more adventurous and sure footed, there is a steep path off to the right of the deck.  The footing is very poor requiring you to grab unto any rock, root or tree limb you can.  Use caution should you chose to go down to the base.  Be very careful to avoid all the poison ivy that is everywhere.  Getting up seemed to be much easier than going down.  Additionally, be very careful at the base.  The rocks can be slippery and there are places where you could easily fall off a sharp drop with the falls.

Since this waterfall has open sun on it, visit it on a very cloudy day.  My friend and I arrived there around 5:30pm and got to the base around 6pm (we were taking our time getting some shots along the way).  Even on a sunny evening in mid-May, the sun was low enough behind the trees that the light on the falls was very soft and even.  We had to rush a bit as we only had 45-60 minutes to shoot.  The park closes at 8pm.  And even at that hour, there were still plenty of people arriving.

Legend has it that the falls is named for an Indian maiden, Issaqueena, who warning the white settlers of an Indian attack, was then chased by Indians and she appeared to jump over the falls. By actually hiding behind the falls (or some legend-tellers say she hid behind a stump, hence Stumphouse Tunnel), she tricked her pursuers and survived. (credit http://www.oconeecountry.com/stumphouse.html).

If you love waterfalls, you definitely have to put this one high on your list.

Isaqueena Falls - May 2019Isaqueena Falls - May 2019

Issaqueena Falls - May 2019Issaqueena Falls - May 2019
 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/5/issaqueena-falls---a-south-carolina-beauty Fri, 17 May 2019 00:07:47 GMT
First Visit to Spruce Flats Falls - Great Smoky Mountain National Park https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/5/first-visit-to-spruce-flats-falls---great-smoky-mountain-national-park Spruce Flats Falls is a waterfall I've wanted to visit for a long time.  Now I know why.  It's wonderful and is a photographic treasure.  Spruce Flats Falls is located in the Tremont area of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  The trailhead is located at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute.  The hike is moderately difficult and is 3/4 miles one-way.  The trail in is mostly uphill with many rocks and roots to contend with.  Once you near the falls, you have a short steep descent to the waterfall.

The falls are stunning and are best seen with moderate water flow.  I wouldn't go if its been dry or exceedingly wet for a while.  Go on a cloudy day with little to no wind as there is a large tree branch overhanging the falls.

There are many photographic compositional opportunities present.  If you are careful you can move around without too much trouble to get close-up shots near the falls or farther back to take in everything.  There are also some dropping cascades just in front of the photo below.  Take your time and scout around. Allow plenty of time to enjoy the falls.

Spruce Flat Falls - May 2019Spruce Flat Falls - May 2019

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/5/first-visit-to-spruce-flats-falls---great-smoky-mountain-national-park Mon, 13 May 2019 20:09:47 GMT
Carolina Rhododendrons Hawksbill Mountain and The Chimneys https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/4/carolina-rhododendrons-are-in-bloom-on-hawksbill-mountain The Carolina Rhododendrons bloomed about ten days early on Hawksbill Mountain and the Chimneys, which overlooks the Linville Gorge.  A friend told me about them otherwise I would have hiked up there for nothing.  Whew!!  If you've not seen them before, it's well worth the difficult hike.

While I've been up to Hawksbill Mountain several times, I had my first visit to The Chimneys.  This was a really interesting location.  From the Hawksbill trailhead, just continue down the road about 7 more miles.  It will seem pretty long given you're on a rugged gravel road most of the way.  You end up at the trailhead for Table Rock.  The trail for the Chimneys is in the opposite direction.  To get to the Chimneys area takes about 3/4 mile moderate trail.  Be careful here too as there are sheer drops in many locations.  The Chimneys are known for their unique rock formations with pillars of rock jutting out into the gorge.

NOTE:  Please be aware that the trail up Hawksbill Mountain is less than a mile but is very steep.  The top of Hawksbill can be very dangerous as there are sheer drops all over the top.  Do not get too close to the edge, especially if the rocks are wet.  Keep your gear secured as well.

 

The Chimneys - May 2019The Chimneys - May 2019 Hawksbill 2019Hawksbill 2019

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(Reid Northrup Photography) Chimneys flowers gorge gorge" Hawksbill landscape linville nature nikon north carolina reid northrup rhododendrons rocks https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/4/carolina-rhododendrons-are-in-bloom-on-hawksbill-mountain Mon, 29 Apr 2019 19:18:38 GMT
Mouse Creek Falls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/4/mouse-creek-falls Just came from a photo outing to Mouse Creek Falls.  The trail head is near the TN / NC border off I-40.  Directions to the trailhead are easily found on the internet.  

If you want to get some outstanding photo ops, try to get there soon while the new leaf growth is still coming in.  The lightness of the leaves are just effervescent and vibrant.  Water flow is excellent.

On this day, we truly lucked out.  We had the place to ourselves, little wind, cloudy skies, and good (actually a tad hard for my taste) water flow. 

The hike to Mouse Creek Falls is about 2.1 miles one-way.  The trail is uphill the entire way but it is moderate.  But when carrying a camera back weighing about 25 lbs., it can get a bit heavy.  But the hike is well worth it.  For most of the way, you'll hear the sound of rushing water paralleling the route.  At several places along the way after getting to the one mile mark, you'll have the opportunity to go off trail and get some excellent photos of the stream and its many cascades, see below for an example.

 

Cascades on Mouse CreekCascades on Mouse Creek

While it may not look like it, I did very little processing on this photo.  The colors and vibrance of the trees were very close to this.  The light was really amazing. It just draws you deep into the photo.

I'll be adding photos shortly of Mouse Creek Falls shortly so please stop back.

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/4/mouse-creek-falls Mon, 29 Apr 2019 19:13:17 GMT
Getting Started in Still Photography / Building Your Own Studio https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/3/getting-started-in-still-photography-/-building-your-own-studio When I first started in photography in 2012, I didn't have a clue what I was doing.  I didn't know anyone who knew anything about photography and I was pretty much on my own.  This likely isn't much different from most people getting started in photography.  There were so many questions; what equipment to buy, how to use my camera, what do all those buttons and dials mean, and how to make sense of all of those menu items to name just a few.  But after countless YouTube videos and video lessons on Adorama.com, I slowly began to learn and practiced a lot.

My primary photographic interest was with landscapes.  Four years ago, we retired to western North Carolina and I was immersed in the region's beautiful scenery, especially all of its stunning waterfalls.  I've taken thousands of photos and while I'm far from an expert, I have improved my landscape photography.

But I'm mostly a fair weather photographer.  Yeah, yeah, I know the best photographs are often found in less than desirable weather.  I do get out in lousy weather at times but in the heat of summer or the cold of winter, I often can't motivate myself to get out.  We've endured droughts where waterfalls have turned into a mere trickle and flooding rains where they turn into muddy torrents.  So there are periods of time when I want to photograph but my normal landscape options are limited.

For those times when getting outside may not be an option, I was looking for another photographic avenue to pursue.  I watched a ton of videos and really started to like still life photography including food photography.  The creativity of it and the challenge of having total control of all aspects of the shoot appealed to me.  But man, this is not simple.  Lighting, staging, styling, composition are all up to the photographer.  You're in control.  You don't have to worry (most of the time) where the sun is, the wind or having people walk into your composition.  But if you mess up, you did it.

Early on when I didn't know what I was doing, I bought a Nikon SB-600 speedlight.  I thought I'd use it mostly for indoor family gathering times and group shots.  But I had no idea on how to really use it.  I never found a good source of flash education.  Yeah, I bought some books and a DVD course but they didn't help much as they seemed too advanced for me.  YouTube videos also seemed hard to use as they weren't about my specific flash unit.  Later on I also learned that all speedlights don't all produce the same amount of light.  In the end, I never used it all that much.

Later on, I made some DYI lights using clamp lights from the hardware store hung on makeshift light stands.  But the results weren't all that great.  In several videos, the use of two light sources were touted.  Since speedlights were the less expensive options and I didn't understand the different types of lighting, I opted to buy a Nikon SB-910 speedlight to give me the two light option.

At that time, Nikon used their Creative Light System (CLS) for triggering off camera flashes.  I learned early on the benefits of using off camera flash, i.e., where  the flash(es) aren't attached to the camera.  Using CLS, your other off camera speedlights would trigger from the flash emitted from the camera's pop-up flash. The pop-up flash functions only as a trigger and does not add light to the scene.  The advantage of this method is that it is relatively easy to use and it doesn't require the use of remote triggers like Pocket Wizards.  On the negative side, CLS required line-of-sight from the pop-up flash to the other off camera speed lights.  The Nikon speed lights have a sensor on them that must be lined up to "see" the remote pop-up flash.  This is often not possible.

But I continued to stumble along never really getting the hang of using speedlights.  Last year western North Carolina set record rainfall amounts, which really affected landscape photography possibilities.  Waterfalls looked terrible, trails were washed out, trees were down and some roads were closed by mudslides.  So I became really motivated to learn how to use my speedlights.  Additionally, I bought the new Nikon D850 in the spring.  Nikon decided to remove the pop-up flash on the camera so if you wanted to use off camera flash you had to get radio triggers.  Oh boy - more gear to buy.

Since I was unfamiliar with radio triggers I again had no clue what to do.  Luckily a guy in my camera club was familiar with flash photography.  We discussed the many trigger possibilities and how I planned to use them.  I opted to get the same ones that he uses both because they were well rated, had a "reasonable" price and he was available to help tutor me.  I purchased the Phottix Odin II trigger and receivers for Nikon.  Be sure your triggers match up to your camera.  They don't come with any real manual and YouTube really doesn't have any good videos on them.  So I was lucky my buddy could help me out.  So without too much trouble I was up and running.

Earlier in my photographic journey when I was initially getting interested in flash photography I learned that using speedlights generally produced harsh shadowy light.  So I got some umbrellas to use to soften the light.  They are very cheap and easy to set up and use.  But as tried out my gear with various still life compositions and the more I learned about flash photography, I learned that using umbrellas have limitations.  The main ones are you lose a lot of light as it is reflected light and the light goes everywhere and can't really be directionally controlled.  Some people use natural light by shooting next to a window.  That wasn't an option for me as the only place I had to shoot in my house wasn't near a window.

So I did a lot of research on lighting and decided to go the soft box route.  But man, there is a lot to know and they can get very expensive quickly.  I thought at some point in the future if I really like still life, I might get into doing some portraits.  I purchased a Profoto RFi Octabox 3'.  It seems like a good compromise size at three feet.  Plus the octagon shape would give some nice looking catchlights for portraits.  But these aren't inexpensive.  Since speed lights only emit so much light, I got a soft box bracket that could hold two speed lights, the Profoto RFi speedring - again, not cheap but its built like a tank.  The soft light it produces is fantastic.

For my other speed light I was modifying the light with a Rogue Large Flashbender.  This is a really cool little accessory for flash photography.  It can act like a mini softbox that can be bent into a few shapes to provide more directional lighting.  It was also be shaped into a snoot.  For an on-the-go flash, this is a very nice and relatively cheap light modifier.  But after seeing the results of my Profoto softbox, I was itching to get another softbox.  Since I had my main soft box I looked for a less expensive alternative.  The Godox 80cm square softbox filled the bill.  With the softbox, grid and mount, it was only around $65.  If produces nice soft light.  But you get what you pay for.  The Godox is not nearly as "beefy" and well made as the Profoto but it's a great value.  One disadvantage that isn't too bad is that the soft box attaches to the mount by simply snapping into place around the mount.  So its not the most secure connection but I haven't really had trouble with it yet.  But you would probably not want to use it outside and carefully move it around your setup in case it fell off.

Another consideration for using speedlights is that they use batteries and eat up a lot of power.  For me, since I was not anticipating recycle time to be a major consideration I went with rechargeable batteries.  In the short run, they are more expensive and you have to buy a charging unit.  But you should easily save quite a bit in the longer run.  I also bought two chargers to help shorten the time needed to recharge all my batteries.

Finally, for still photography you generally need some type of backdrop.  There are an exhaustive list of these.  I chose to use simple rolls of black and white paper for the time being.  You can get really creative if you want.  But with backgrounds you also have to have some way of holding them.  Thinking a bit longer term I went for the Savage Multiple Background Stand. It can hold up to two rolls of paper or any other type of backdrop.  So if you want to easily switch backgrounds it can be done very quickly.  Its a quality product and is very sturdy.  It also has the ability to get quite wide should you need it.

Lastly, if you want to try food photography, you will need some backgrounds on which to place your food.  Take a look at this video for ideas, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eiipb1EuyVg&t=4s.  The "Bite Shop" is a great YouTube channel for food photography as is "We Eat Together".  I used the ideas from this video to make three backgrounds. But going forward I'm just going to buy vinyl sheets.  They look great and don't cost much.


Here are some early photos I took with my setup.

AlstroemeriaAlstroemeria

So what are "my" lesson learned?  If I had to do it all over again, I'd likely go with studio strobes vs. speedlights.  They can be costly for sure.  But they are more flexible and have more power than speedlights.  There are also more light modifiers available for them.  You can also get continuous lights which help you see in advance where the light is falling and the amount of shadows you'll have and where they are.  But if this isn't going to be your primary photographic interest, studio strobes might be a bit of overkill.  For me, I think my overall cost would have been less.  But if you want to see some fantastic flash photography with speed lights, check out Joe McNally on YouTube.  He is the Jedi Knight of speed lights.

The key takeaway in today's blog is to do lots of research in advance of getting any gear.  And you get what you pay for.  Yes, you can get some cheaper speed lights from China, but you'll lose key features of your camera if you don't get their models.  Be sure to know what you'll be getting if you go the off brand route.

Here are just a few key questions to ask yourself:

  • Why do you want to get into flash photography?
  • Is this an interest you are committed to for the long term?
  • What area of your photography requires artificial light, i.e., portraits, weddings, still life, food, macro?
  • Would DYI lights and modifiers work just as well as flash accessories?
  • ​​​​​​​What is your budget?
  • Can you rent or borrow equipment to test it out?
  • Do you know the difference between speedlights and studio strobes?
  • Do you mind using power cords or do you need the flexibility of batteries or battery packs?
  • Do you know about triggering your off camera flashes, i.e., radio triggers?
  • How many lights do you need? Why?
  • ​​​​​​​Do you understand the power ratings for flash units?
  • Do you understand how to consider the color rating of you flash units?
  • What type of backdrops and backgrounds do you need?  Why?
  • ​​​​​​​Do you have the physical space to set up your lighting equipment?  While it's not really difficult to set up or tear down, it is a bit of a pain and takes some time.

 

This has been a pretty long posting but I hope you've gathered something from it.  If you have any questions, I'll try to help.  Just drop me a line.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) flash flash photography light modifiers portraits radio triggers softbox speedlight still life still life photography strobes https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/3/getting-started-in-still-photography-/-building-your-own-studio Sun, 17 Mar 2019 15:46:33 GMT
North Georgia in Autumn https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/3/north-georgia-in-autumn If you travel in northern Georgia you are in for quite a treat.  The landscape is very beautiful, not quite up to North Carolina standards, but still great.  Since the autumn colors in much of North Carolina had passed and weren't all that great, I decided to visit Georgia to see if I'd have better photographic luck.  I was not disappointed.  Even though its a bit of a trip from my home base, it was well worth the ride.

My first stop was near Hwy 196 just east of Hwy 76.  As I was passing a large field I caught a glimpse of a potential photograph.  Turning around to get a better view I found the little shed below stuck way out in a field.  Since there were no homes to be seen I grabbed my gear to see what I could get.  I'm happy with the result.

Rural Georgia Shed Oct. 2018Rural Georgia Shed Oct. 2018

The next stop was a revisit to Minnehaha Falls near Rabun Lake.  This is a very easy hike.  This was the first time visiting this waterfall in autumn and it was beautiful.  Water flow changes a lot for this waterfall so visit often to see its many personalities. The only bad thing was that my 17-35mm wide angle lens was in the shop being repaired.  I would have loved to have it here.

Minnehaha Falls Oct. 2018Minnehaha Falls Oct. 2018

Next on my list was Raper Creek​​​​​​​ Falls in Habersham County, GA.  This is a very short hike.  It's easy to find but there are only about two spaces for parking.  It's not very well marked and you're in the middle of nowhere.  I would suggest for safety reasons to use the buddy system here.  The trail gets pretty steep in the lower section so some slipping is almost guaranteed.  Plus there can be lots of spray near the falls and the footing on the rocks is very slippery.  Again, I could really have used my wide angle lens here.  I would have been able to catch more autumn trees across the stream.  Guess I'll have to go back next fall.
Raper Creek Falls Oct. 2018Raper Creek Falls Oct. 2018

I had tried to get to another waterfall just outside Clayton, GA.  It wasn't easy to find the trailhead but I finally did.  The trail was suppose to be pretty easy.  But looking down the trail it seemed anything but.  Since I was by myself and the sun was quickly setting with rain starting, I opted to play it safe and skip it for this trip.  But as I was heading back toward Clayton, I found this little beauty just off the road.  A nice way to end a long day.

Georgia Barn Oct. 2018Georgia Barn Oct. 2018

I revisited the area a few days later to catch some places I wasn't able to get to the other day.  My first stop was the Tallulah Gorge State Park.  The gorge is two miles long and is 1000 feet deep.  There are a few waterfalls found along the gorge.  In the photo below you can see L'Eau d'Or Falls.  There are several trails in the park.  Some are easy, others require some tougher hiking.

Talullah Gorge Oct. 2018Talullah Gorge Oct. 2018

If you take the South Rim Trail you can descend into the gorge.  But bear in mind you'll have to take a total of 1136 steps to reach the floor and come back up.  At some times, you're allowed to hike through the gorge.  On the day I was there, the gorge was closed off except to see Hurricane Falls (see below).  But I saw no way on how you could hike anywhere.  There was no apparent trail that I could see. But Hurricane Falls was enough of a reward at the bottom for me.  But the hike back up all those steps was a killer.

So if you're able to visit northeast Georgia, you will not be disappointed.  Just don't go in summer unless you love hot humid weather.

 

 

 

 

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) autumn barn fall forest georgia hurricane falls leaves long exposure minnehaha falls raper creek falls rocks shed tullulah gorge tullulah gorge state park water waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/3/north-georgia-in-autumn Tue, 05 Mar 2019 23:00:25 GMT
New Hampshire in the Peak of Autumn - - Heaven https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/2/new-hampshire-in-the-peak-of-autumn-----heaven This is part two of our trip to the northeast last autumn.  After visiting Bar Harbor (Acadia National Park) we headed west a few hours to New Hampshire.  Looking at a map of New Hampshire is a bit misleading.  Since it is a relatively small state you can move around it quickly.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  I thought it might be a bit like North Carolina in the mountains but it wasn't really.  While the mountains were about half the height of those in NC, they just seemed taller.  I think it was because you saw more of an abrupt rise in elevation and they seemed to be more peak-like.  This gave them a more majestic look in my view.  In simple terms, they were gorgeous. With the trees at or near their fall peak colors, the views were beyond belief. I've heard too many times about the great color and thought "yeah, yeah, sure".  But they are spectacular and truly worth the effort to see.

We visited the area the first week of October and think the timing was perfect.  We came in near Gorham, NH in the northeast part of the state, headed west toward Bethlehem and down to Lincoln where we stayed.  Like Bar Harbor, you won't find many national chains so look at reviews closely.  Luckily we did find a Holiday Inn Express, which turned out to be very nice.

I was extremely fortunate to know of another photographer who live in southern New Hampshire.  We had become acquainted through Flickr and Facebook.  He offered to take me out for a day and we had so much fun.  Going with someone who knows an area helps so much.  You get to the best places at the right time.  We had pretty good luck weather wise with rain predicted for early afternoon.

The main highway you want to see is the Kangamagus highway which runs east-west from Lincoln to Conway.  The photo opportunities along this area are numerous and beautiful.  One of our first stops was right along the highway called Rocky Gorge.  Water flow was a bit slow but it was really nice.  We got there early enough that there were only a few people.  But we did have to be a bit patient for people to move out of view a few times.

Rocky GorgeRocky Gorge

Toward the end of the day, we headed north of Conway to another great area to see Crystal Cascade.  Clouds were thickening so we knew we didn't have much time.  The hike wasn't too long but the trail was a steady rise in elevation.  We hustled the best we could with light rain starting to fall.  We just had time to set up our tripods and get a few very quick shots before the sky opened up on us.  I wish we could have spent a couple of hours around here but the time was late and my friend had a long drive home so we called it a day.  A really great day!   Thanks Keith.

 

Crystal Cascade - White MountainsCrystal Cascade - White Mountains

Another place that my friend told me about was the flume gorge in the Franconia Notch State Park, which is just a few miles north of Lincoln.  We was told to be the first one in line as this gets crazy busy so you have to really be fast up the trail to get photos without people everywhere.  We ended up being second in line and I apologized to my wife as I took off once the gate opened.  A ways up the trail you go into the gorge and walk along a boardwalk. A spectacular place.  Since the trail was a little steep most people took their time walking up the trail so I was able to get up the trail to a few locations to take various shots.  But people (and my wife) caught up to me.  So I did have to manage my tripod on a narrow walkway as people went around us.  Some people were very nice and didn't mind taking a break for a minute while I composed and got my shots.

My wife and I walked the entire trail.  While it was a nice hike past the gorge, there really isn't any great photo opportunities so I'd wish we would have turned around and headed back through the gorge to the entrance.

Toward the end of the day, my wife was ready to crash so I knew I had another opportunity to get the car and hit a few spots I'd missed earlier.  I headed back east on the Kangamagus Highway to Sabbaday Falls.  This is another location where you can spend hours.  But since I was a tight schedule to get back for dinner, I needed to hustle again and be VERY patient with numerous people visiting the park late in the day.  At times I felt some people knew I was waiting for a clean shot and purposely held their positions.  But the waiting proved the right choice as I was able to get some nice photos.

Our visit to New Hampshire was a great one.  During the fall, I can't think of a better spot to be.  This is definitely worth the travel to see.  We were very lucky to hit the trees at their peak color.

 

 

 

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) autumn crystal cascade fall flume gorge franconia notch state park kangamagus highway new hampshire sabbaday falls water waterfall white mountains https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/2/new-hampshire-in-the-peak-of-autumn-----heaven Thu, 21 Feb 2019 21:55:29 GMT
First Visit to Acadia National Park https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/2/first-visit-to-acadia-national-park We took our first vacation to Acadia National Park in late September last year.  A very long drive from western North Carolina.  I had arranged for a private photo guide to take me out one day since I knew nothing about Acadia and was hoping to find some "secret" locations.  Overall, it was a bit of a disappointing day but luckily it ended on a high note.  The weather was very sunny, which didn't lead to too many "wow" photos.  It's sort of a gamble when you go on a vacation intending to take photos as you're highly dependent on the weather.  And not knowing the guide with only relying on customer comments, you're sort of shooting in the dark too.  I'd give my guide about a B- for the day on getting me to good locations at the right time.

I still had another three days in the area after the photo tour so I was able to get out to some new places and back to others I wanted to revisit.  Since I was with my non-photographer wife, splitting time (and the car) was important but she is supportive of my photography passion so it generally worked out.  

We thought by going in late September the fall foliage would be present.  Learned that peak colors usually don't start until mid-October. But really, don't go to Acadia hoping to see a lot of great autumn scenes.  Go to Vermont and New Hampshire early October for those.  I'll be covering New Hampshire in an upcoming post.

About half our time in Bar Harbor was in rainy cold weather so that impacted some of my shooting plans.  Don't get me wrong, its a beautiful place to see.  For me, once was enough.  My wife on the other hand would love to go again.  If you plan to go, get reservations early.  Check them out thoroughly.  We ended up renting a house since our son was joining us.  It came with high ratings but we didn't like it at all.  Not comfortable at all and VERY old.  Since the TVs and something else didn't work, we ended up getting a credit for one night.  Accommodations and dining are expensive in Bar Harbor and there are nearly no major hotel chains in the area.

Here are just a few photos I took during our visit.

Here is one from the Park Loop Road - likely a bit south of Sand Beach.  The cliff in the background is Otter Cliff.  That was one of the bigger disappointments for me.  I thought the rugged cliffs abounded through the park.  They don't.  There is just a fairly short stretch of them along the southeast section of the park.  The area is great, don't get me wrong.  I just imagined there being more.  Also a word of warning.  Know the tides and don't go out on the beaches as the tide is coming in.  You could get caught not being able to get out in time.

This is one of my favorite photos of the trip, the lighthouse at Bass Harbor.  A word of advice here too.  Get here about 3 hours earlier than sunset if you want one of only six prime spots.  My guide got us here about 45 minutes early and the area was packed with people making it very difficult to get a shooting spot.  As it turned out I had to shimmy up a very pointy and uncomfortable rock.  Lucky I had a tripod with very long legs so I was able to have a secure camera.  Also my composition was limited due to all the people in front of me.  Their heads are just below the frame.  But I was rewarded with a nice sunset and light so that's all that mattered.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse, MaineBass Harbor Lighthouse, Maine

I saw this location on social media.  It's called Boulder Beach but you won't find it on any park map the and the park rangers will say there is no such beach.  Not sure why.  Although in certain tide conditions, I could see where it might be dangerous.  Look on the web for best directions but from Park Loop Road, it's south of Thunder Hole and the Gotham Mountain Trailhead.  I believe there is an unmarked parking lot just past Cliff Road and its on the right side and comes up quick.  I missed it 2-3 times.  Once you find the parking lot, just walk across the road and there's this great beach.  By the time I left my car, the rain started and just increased.  On the beach, the better compositions were out a bit and closer to the waves.  As a result I was constantly having to clean off my lenses from either the rain or ocean spray.  I was using an umbrella locked on my tripod but that proved hard to use but did help a bit.  I ended up taking a ton of shots and I did manage to get a couple without too much water on my lens.  Would like to go back in better conditions but I do like the resulting photo.

On the way to Bar Harbor we stayed in Kennebunk, ME one night.  Thirty minutes out of town you go through Portland and we stopped at their landmark lighthouse.  Here again, get there really early as the buses flood in there right away.  We did and walked at a fast clip to get to this spot.  I had to erase many people from the photo that were lining the front of the building.  Much later and I think it would be impossible to clean up the shot.  I was fortunate to get some dramatic skies but I was only able to stay a few minutes.  I've also seen some gorgeous photos from here at sunset and from the other side of the lighthouse.  People, as always, are the main compositional issue here.

Maine, Bar Harbor and Acadia were nice.  Wish we would have had better weather and accommodations.  I'd like to visit other places before going back there.  In my upcoming post, I share some thoughts on our visit to neighboring New Hampshire, which I really loved and hope to get back to soon.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) acadia acadia national park atlantic beach boulders cliffs lighthouse national park ocean rocks sunset https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/2/first-visit-to-acadia-national-park Tue, 19 Feb 2019 16:48:38 GMT
English Falls - A Dangerous Beauty https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/2/english-falls---a-dangerous-beauty If you've ever had the pleasure of listening to Kevin Adams, a notable expert on waterfalls in western North Carolina, or reading one of his several book on the topic, he'll usually show photographs of English Falls.  When he tells his audience and readers about the waterfall, he's sure to mention the high level of difficulty of getting to this particular waterfall.  As a frequent user of his waterfall guide book, I've come to appreciate the accuracy of his ratings for beauty and difficulty of the noted waterfalls.  With that said, English Falls has always intrigued me but the stated difficulty and danger of getting to this waterfall has always prevented me from trying to photograph it.

But last fall, I saw a photograph of English Falls posted by one of my photography friends.  I reached out to him to see just how difficult he found it to be.  He agreed with the assessment presented by Kevin Adams but said with the right preparations, it was doable.  He said he could get me to it.

I thought this adventure over in my head and asked my buddy a couple more times about it and looked at some YouTube videos to check it out more.  I finally decided to try it with the understanding if at any point it seemed too much I'd back off.

Mike and I met up on the Parkway, gathered our gear and ropes and headed off.  The hike quickly began a steep descent requiring some butt slides and grabbing on to bushes to control sliding.  We came to first very steep descent and Mike tied up a long length of rope.  With a heavy pack on, this proved more difficult than I expected.  I was very happy of my decision to bring along leather gloves. They definitely helped my grip.  If you lose your grip here, you're in for a long slide without anything to grab unto.  The result would likely be very painful.

Having made the first section OK, we skirted around a steep area finally reaching the second steep drop around some rock cliffs. Using another section of rope and with a lot of Mike's help, I made it down.  We were then within sight of the waterfall.  At this point, the top view really hid the overall beauty of the waterfall.  The final hurdle was getting down a straight drop down a rock face of about 7-8 feet.  We were out of rope at this point.  With his much younger legs than mine, Mike jumped down OK.  At this point, I was quite unsure if I should even try not knowing how to even attempt getting down much less knowing anything about how to get back up.  Mike encouraged me to try with his help.  He quite literally grabbed my legs as I lowered myself over the embankment and safely lowered me to the ground.  It only worked because my buddy was big, young and strong.  Otherwise, no way.

Then I saw the full waterfall and it was breathtaking.  But there was a lot of spray off the waterfall since you have to be very close to it as there is very little area to walk around.  The color in the trees above the falls was great but the sun was still too high so we had to wait about 30 minutes before shooting.  I would have liked moving around a bit to get different compositions, but the rocks were wet and extremely slippery.  A fall here meant broken bones or worse given the steep grade of the hill. However, another photographer showed up a bit later and he rock hopped across the stream to the other side.  It wasn't worth the risk to try moving from my relatively safe flat small spot.  

Finally the sun went done and we started clicking away being sure to constantly clean off our lenses from all the spray.  Getting a very low exposure in this spray was impossible.  I managed to get a 1.6 sec shutter speed.  These photos were taken with a wide angle lens at 30mm and 32mm on a full frame Nikon D850.  Anything larger would likely not work very well.  We only had about 45 minutes to shoot as we had to be sure to get back to our car before darkness came.

The hardest part of the hike back was getting up the initial rock face.  Mike gave me a strong boost up and handed me my pack.  We then used our ropes to literally pull ourselves up the steep hill.  There would have been no way to get up without ropes securely tied to trees.  We did see some ropes there but their condition was extremely suspect.  While the distance isn't far, it's the steepness that makes this a very difficult hike.  But happily, we made it back safely.  And for this old dog, I was quite pleased with the adventure and my buddy's help.

I was pretty pleased with the post processed photos I came away with, see two below.  We were lucky with the colors, the flow of the water, and the overall lack of wind.  But we still had to contend with the spray.

If you go, please understand this is a very hard hike.  By far the hardest I ever have done.  Have plenty of rope too.  But the last sheer drop is the one to worry about.  Getting down and back up should not be underestimated.  I'm not providing directions as I don't want to be responsible for anyone getting hurt.  I'm not sure I'll ever attempt going here again.  The internet provides directions if you feel you have to go.

English Falls English Falls

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(Reid Northrup Photography) autumn blue ridge parkway english falls fall forest north carolina trees waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/2/english-falls---a-dangerous-beauty Sun, 17 Feb 2019 18:54:46 GMT
Dipping a Toe into Still Life Photography https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/2/dipping-a-toe-into-still-life-photography The summer of 2018 in western North Carolina was super rainy and warm.  For 2018, the region set an all-time rainfall record.  The summer was not a good time for landscape photographers.  Since I predominantly lean toward long exposure water photography, it was hard to find anything but flooding streams and raging waterfalls.  Many people might think we'd be in heaven but not in my case.  The water was just too high and brown with mud runoff.

So what to do when its raining hard but you still want to keep your photography juices flowing?  Well, in my case I tried my hand at still life photography.  I already had two speed lights and umbrellas.  I went to a local florist and picked up a few flowers to photograph.

I find still life photography so different than shooting landscapes.  The photographer is in complete control of all aspects of the shoot, i.e., set up, composition, background and, most importantly, the lighting.  Post processing is another very important aspect of finishing the photograph.  A few of my results are posted below.  For my first attempt, I was generally pleased but you don't see how many throw aways I also had.  But it was fun nonetheless and I learned quite a bit.  Main thing is that while umbrellas will provide nice soft light, its not as good as using a good soft box.

I'll dive into flash photography a bit more in future posts.  I'm in no way an expert in this aspect of photography but I'll try to share a few tidbits I have managed to learn.  The key is to try and have fun learning another branch of photography.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/2/dipping-a-toe-into-still-life-photography Fri, 15 Feb 2019 21:52:40 GMT
Big Gap in Posting - Monitor Calibration https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/2/big-gap-in-posting---monitor-calibration I've been out of the blogging business for much too long.  I had issues with the accuracy of my prints and my monitor's calibration.  Since I only want to add high quality prints to my site, I had to wait until I got the issues resolved.  Then came a long vacation to Maine and New Hampshire followed by a great fall season in the Smokys, western North Carolina and north Georgia.  

But I have my calibration issues resolved so I can try to get back on top of adding posts on a regular basis.

In this post I want to briefly talk about how vital it is to have your monitor properly color calibrated.  Have you ever sent one of your beautiful photos to print being so anxious to proudly display it only to get it back and be so disappointed with the result?  Was it too dark and lifeless?  It's not the photo or the printing facility, it's your monitor.  Generally, any reputable external printing business, e.g., AdoramaPix or Black River Imaging, use a standard color calibration.  I won't begin to discuss all the science behind it as it's over my head.  But let's just say you have to match your monitor's color scheme to the printer you're going to use.

I was very fortunate in that a member of our camera club had a photo printing business and knew a lot about the issue.  With his help we were able to successfully calibrate my monitor again.  Generally, monitor calibration is very easy and straightforward but my prints were still not coming back the way I like them.  So in the end, I still have to raise the exposure about .8 stops and add a touch for vibrance and saturation.

I use the Spyder 4 Elite colorimeter from Datacolor.  This isn't the latest version but it still works for me.  This model is no longer available and has been replaced with the Spyder5PRO.  Search for it on Amazon.  Price is $148.  It will be the smartest $148 you'll spend.  Before buying, look at videos on YouTube to learn more about it.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) color color calibration colorimeter data printing prints https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2019/2/big-gap-in-posting---monitor-calibration Fri, 15 Feb 2019 18:18:57 GMT
Introduction to Hummingbird Photography https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/8/introduction-to-hummingbird-photography A friend from our local camera club invited me over to photograph hummingbirds in his backyard.  He is an avid bird photographer and had quite the setup.  Located in dense woods, it was a great location to attract these tiny birds.  He had a quasi permanent set up to shoot from, being located under a portion of his home protected from any rain.

I always thought that you would need to use high shutter speeds to freeze the wings but that is not the case.  The shutter speed was only set at 1/250th of a second.  The key is using speed lights to freeze the movement.  In this case four speed lights.  ISO was set at 400 and I used an aperture of f/20.  So how did we get the bokeh in the background?  My friend had an enlarged photo of a blurred background hung from a light stand about seven feet behind the focus point.  When you looked through the viewfinder, all you could see was the blurry background.  Pretty slick.

He had all sorts of bird feeders set up.  We were seeing woodpeckers only five feet from us along with bluebirds and many other types.  Of course, there were several hummingbird feeders set up too.  Once attracted to the feeder location, we swapped out the feeder for a flower squirted with sugar water.  The hummingbirds just kept coming to the same location to continue feeding.

As stated, we used four speed lights.  The flashes were not expensive in the least.  Around $80 each I think. One was for the background and three for lighting the birds from each side and the bottom.  Their power was set relatively low, only 1/16th power.  I borrowed his Nikon 200-400mm lens to get in fairly close.  The photo below was cropped to get in even tighter to show more detail.  Then it was time to sit back in comfy lawn chairs and keep hitting the shutter every time the birds came around.  Since we using low power on the flashes, the recycle time was very very short so you could press the shutter over and over without waiting for the flash.  The birds didn't seem to mind the bursts of light at all.  You can't time when to press the shutter so you hit it repeatedly and hope for the best.  For my first attempt at photographing hummingbirds, I'm happy to have gotten a few keepers.  The lens caught some incredible details in the feathers.  Amazing.

Give it a try.  Pretty fun.  

HummingbirdHummingbird

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(Reid Northrup Photography) bird birds flash flower forest hummingbirds nature nikon northrup reid trees https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/8/introduction-to-hummingbird-photography Thu, 09 Aug 2018 16:09:25 GMT
Photo Exhibit at Woodlands Gallery https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/8/photo-exhibit-at-woodlands-gallery I've been asked to display a large selection of my landscape prints at the Woodlands Gallery in downtown Hendersonville, NC.  The address is 419 N. Main Street.  The exhibit runs from August 12 to February 28, 2019.  This comes after a fairly good showing at the Hollingsworth Gallery in Brevard, NC during July. 

If you live nearby, please stop in to see it.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) art exhibit fine gallery hendersonville landscape nature photography woodlands https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/8/photo-exhibit-at-woodlands-gallery Wed, 08 Aug 2018 00:25:37 GMT
Get Low - Get Close https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/7/get-low---get-close Most anyone reading this post has heard it many times.  To improve your compositions, get low and get close.  I wanted to illustrate that point here with two examples of Eastatoe Falls located in western North Carolina.

The first photo is a mid-falls isolation at 92mm.  Beginning photographers often think you need to get an entire scene in your photo.  Sometimes, in fact, many times, getting a closer composition can provide vastly better and interesting photos.  Look for interesting lines and other compositional elements.

The second photo was taken at approximately the same distance but using a 24mm focal length on a wide angle lens.  But rather than take it from a standing position, I got in the water and put my camera about 8 inches over the stream.  I primarily did this is add a foreground element into my composition to get some interest in the viewfinder.  

As another example of getting close, review your compositions for any flower photography you may do.  Most often, you'll find photos other either a grouping of flowers or of a single flower.  Take it in even closer to only get a portion of a flower.  You may be pleasantly surprised at what you see.

In an earlier post I wrote about moving your body around to look at for various compositions from different angles.  But as importantly, move you focal length in and out from where you are to look for compositions within a composition.  I think you'll find your photography will improve.

 

Eastatoe Falls IsolationEastatoe Falls Isolation Eastatoe FallsEastatoe Falls

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(Reid Northrup Photography) #rrs estatoe falls landscape long exposure moss nature north carolina reid northrup rocks water waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/7/get-low---get-close Thu, 12 Jul 2018 18:24:11 GMT
Fun with Flash https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/6/fun-with-flash During the winter months or the dry hot summer, I don't often get out as much as I'd like to for my normal landscape photography.  So I've found myself bored but wanting to still photograph something.  I've been slowly accumulating flash equipment and now finally have some flashes and modifiers get started experimenting.  I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos on flash photography and still life photography and have actually picked up enough knowledge to get started.  The kicker for me was when I switched to the Nikon D850, which does not have a pop-up flash.  The Nikon cameras had used optical flash to trigger remote flashes, which was a bit of a pain.  With the D850, I splurged on some Phottix triggers.  After enlisting the help of a knowledgeable flash expert from my camera club, I got them to work (well . . . most of the time).

The photos below are all examples of flash photography using high speed sync.  This is where you shoot at a higher shutter speed to cancel out all ambient light and only use flash to light the scene.  The flower was in bright sunlight, which wouldn't look good.  But by using flash, I could control the amount and direction of the light.  I used a Rogue Flashbender to light it.  The other two photos were taken at a nearby antique mall.  Luckily the owner was very nice and let me set up some umbrellas I used to shoot the flash through to get softer light.  The beer keg photo used one umbrella, the Rogue Flashbender and a black reflector to block out the distracting background.

While none of these would win any print competitions, it does illustrate the flexibility and creativity that can be achieved by using off-camera flash.  If you've never considered trying flash out, its worth experimenting with during those times when getting out to hike to those lovely landscape scenes isn't possible.   Then I'll also have something to continue shooting when my hiking days come to an end. Days of OldDays of Old Blue BlossomsBlue Blossoms

Beer and MoonshineBeer and Moonshine

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/6/fun-with-flash Mon, 25 Jun 2018 23:59:10 GMT
Back to Roan Mountain https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/6/back-to-roan-mountain It's been a while since my last post.  May was a month of record and flooding rains in western North Carolina.  In the last two weeks of May, most of this area had in excess of 25 inches of rain.  Waterfalls and streams had unheard amounts of water flowing through them.  Many trails were closed with washouts and mudslides.  Five people killed and damage in certain areas was extensive.  So landscape photography took a bit of pause.  Additionally, the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed and only reopened after most of the rhododendron bloom was past.

I had been looking forward to hiking the Appalachian Trail on Roan Mountain to catch the blooming rhododendrons and blaze azaleas but a bad back kept me sidelined until this past Monday.  This has been a poor year for rhododendrons just about everywhere in western North Carolina and Roan Mountain was no exception.  Even during peak blooms, blossoms were sparse.  When I hiked there this week the vast majority of rhododendrons were gone, past peak or not able to be put into a favorable photo composition.  While the blaze azaleas were a bit better, the bright sunny day didn't help matters either.  On the hike back from Grassy Ridge, there was more cloud cover and I did find this one good bush of healthy blossoms on Round Bald.  This was my only "good" shot of the day so I'm glad I saw it.

I'll be hoping for a better blooming season next year. Round Bald - Roan MountainRound Bald - Roan Mountain

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(Reid Northrup Photography) azaleas blaze blue clouds flowers forest landscape mountain mountains nature nikon petals ridge roan trees https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/6/back-to-roan-mountain Wed, 20 Jun 2018 14:24:05 GMT
Upcoming Photograph Exhibit https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/5/upcoming-photograph-exhibit During the month of July, an exhibition of my photos will be held.  If you're in the area, please stop by to take a look.  The exhibition will be held at:

 

The Hollingsworth Gallery

147 East Main Street

Brevard, NC  

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) art carolina exhibit fine gallery hollingsworth landscape north photo https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/5/upcoming-photograph-exhibit Sun, 27 May 2018 18:55:34 GMT
Moore Cove Falls - Dealing with Breeze Created by Waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/5/moore-cove-falls---dealing-with-breeze-created-by-waterfall In just a few days, much of western North Carolina has seen triple its normal "monthly" rainfall.  Streams, creeks and rivers are flooding.  Waterfalls are gushing with a super heavy flow of water.  Most people would think this would be great for waterfalls.  I disagree as I think most photographers would.  Too much water in most waterfalls results in a lost of character and detail of the water flow.  All you get is one immense patch of white.  I don't think this creates a very photogenic image.

Some waterfalls, like Moore Cove Falls (pictured below) is normally a trickle.  With our heavy rains, it had a nice flow.  Great, right?  Well, not so fast.  The heavy flow of water creates its own wind and if there is any foliage nearby, the leaves will be blowing around.  This was the case today when I hiked to Moore Cove Falls.  There was no wind around but the water flow had nearby bushes blowing around.  Hard to get a good photo in these conditions.  Crank up the shutter speed?  Even with raising my ISO to 3000 didn't even get the shutter much better than 1/80th of a sec.  Conditions were generally on the darker side today.  Increase the aperture?  Then you get depth of field issues.  Plus using a circular polarizer takes out about two stops of light too.

To handle this situation, I kept moving around to find a composition that would not contain the blowing leaves.  I ended up walking under the waterfall and trying for a side shot.  I also wanted to use a slower shutter to help blur the water flow.  On the left side were the rock walls which were very dark, which also required using a longer shutter speed to expose this area properly.

So in the end, I'm generally happy with this photo given the less than perfect conditions with blowing leaves.  If you run into these situations, keep moving around to attempt to find a composition that works.  Keep trying as many options as you can.

On the some other photos I took I may also try to exposure blend a couple of images.  One with a faster shutter to slow down the leaf movement and another to capture the waterfall with a longer exposure.  In many cases, this is the best option.  However, today was a bit unusual.  But as always, getting out for a hike to a great place can't be beat.

Moore Cove FallsMoore Cove Falls

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(Reid Northrup Photography) #rrs carolina cove exposure falls forest landscape long moore nature nikon north northrup reid rocks stream water waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/5/moore-cove-falls---dealing-with-breeze-created-by-waterfall Tue, 22 May 2018 00:05:33 GMT
Finally - There are blooms on top of Hawksbill Mountain https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/5/finally---there-are-blooms-on-top-of-hawksbill-mountain After four years of trying to time the Carolina Rhododendrons up on Hawksbill Mountain, I finally got lucky and was blessed with overall good conditions. I made my first attempt for this year about ten days earlier and the buds were just starting to emerge.  So when the forecast appeared good, I made the hike again with Greg Schneider.

​​​​​​​If you've never been up Hawksbill Mountain, I will say its a bit of a tough hike when you are loaded down with heavy camera gear.  While its short, only about 8/10 of a mile, the final half of the hike is very steep.  The first half isn't a cake walk either.  But we took our time and made it up OK.  We were relieved to see the blooms out when we reached the top. Made the hike so worthwhile.

If you go, I would suggest leaving your longer lenses home.  This place is made for wide angle or medium telephoto lenses.  For 95% of my photos, I stuck with my favorite lens, the Nikon 17-35mm.  I've managed to get out to practice with my D850 and must say I really like its focus peaking option.  While using live-view and manual focus, it outlines those areas in focus with bright red (or a color of your choosing) lines.  So even in fairly bright sunlight, you can see what is in focus.

​​​​​​​Given the dynamic range of the light, I bracketed many of my photos, including those included here, and that seemed to work pretty well.  I also used my Lee 2- and 3-stop GND filters along with the Lee 105mm polarizing filter.  When using a circular polarizer filter on a wide angle lens, care needs to be taken to avoid getting some odd colorization in parts of the sky.

All in all, we stayed on top about three hours before heading back down.  Since some nice clouds were just starting to roll in, I would have liked to stick around a bit longer but lunch was calling for us.  : ).

I highly recommend making this hike next spring.  But the weather on Hawksbill can be harsh and the blossoms are usually short lived. That's why I've missed them so many times.  Give it a try next May, you may hit it just right.  Hawksbill is also very nice in the fall.

Hawksbill Mountain is located near the  Blue Ridge Parkway in Linville at the intersection of Hwy 183 and US221.  Check Google for more specific directions in interested.

Hawksbill Mountain 3Hawksbill Mountain 3 Hawksbill MountainHawksbill Mountain

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(Reid Northrup Photography) carolina cliffs forest hawksbill landscape mountain nature nikon north northrup reid rhododendrons rocks trees https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/5/finally---there-are-blooms-on-top-of-hawksbill-mountain Wed, 16 May 2018 23:30:58 GMT
Hawksbill Mountain - Too Early for Rhododendron Blooms https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/5/hawks It was a bit too early for the Carolina Rhododendrons during my recent hike up Hawksbill Mountain on May 3rd.  It seemed like they needed another 7-10 days to cook a bit more.  If you've never been to Hawksbill, it can be a challenging hike with load of camera gear on your back and less than new legs to carry it on.  But I did make the hike on a sunny warm day.  Hawksbill can be a challenging short hike given its steep grade.  At only about 3/4 mile, its not a long hike by any means.  But the hike is more than a moderate hike, especially the last half of it.  That's when the grade really steps up.  Without gear, I don't find it particularly bad so its the extra load that slows you (me) down.  Carry only the equipment you need.  For instance, I left my 70-300mm telephoto lens at home.

Hawksbill can also be a challenge with exposure.  The main compositions are north - south so its hard to get good look except during the early or late parts of the day.  Cloudy days would be excellent.  But since I live about two hours away, so getting there early or staying late and walking out in the dark doesn't work too well.

Given that you're pretty high and there is nothing to break the wind, there is always some wind at the top.  So be ready to use a high ISO to get some respectable shutter speeds.  The best I could do was about 1/160th of a second.

At the top, there are two good vantage points for photography. One of the north end and the other at the south side.  Be extremely careful moving around.  There are shear drop-offs so one bad step and you're a goner.  That goes for dropping any gear too if its facing downhill.  But use common sense and you'll be OK.

I hope to head back this coming week to hopefully have another shot at the rhododendron blooms.

 

Hawksbill MountainHawksbill Mountain

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(Reid Northrup Photography) #rrs blue ridge mountains blue ridge parkway forest hawksbill mountain landscape nature north carolina reid northrup rocks trees https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/5/hawks Sun, 06 May 2018 16:40:14 GMT
Rushing Water at Roaring Fork and Setrock Creek Falls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/4/rushing-water-at-roaring-fork-and-setrock-creek-falls Our local weather was finally suppose to be conducive for landscape photography so I headed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway to photograph Roaring Fork (pictured below) and Setrock Creek Falls again.  These waterfalls are located near the junction of NC80 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. After all the rain we've had recently, the falls were really flowing harder than I've ever seen. The water was quite high as well limiting where I could move around safely. The pace of the flow also created a draft which kept nearby leaves and branches moving. Not a good thing for long exposure photography. But it felt so good to get in a hike and practice with my new camera. I'll be heading up Hawksbill Mountain soon to try to catch the short-lived blooms on the Carolina Rhododendrons.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) blue carolina north parkway ridge waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/4/rushing-water-at-roaring-fork-and-setrock-creek-falls Sat, 28 Apr 2018 19:07:11 GMT
Return to Little Bradley Falls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/4/return-to-little-bradley-falls Little Bradley FallsLittle Bradley Falls It's been too long since I entered anything in this blog.  It wasn't by choice.  Back issues this winter pretty much sidelined me from getting out and hiking.  Camera gear isn't light as most of you already know.  But hopefully that's behind me and I'll be able to resume my normal schedule. But not too long ago the weather was perfect for waterfall photography and with a friend we headed to Little Bradley Falls.

Little Bradley Falls is just east of Saluda, NC.  It's not the easiest place to get to.  To avoid a longer hike and several stream crossing, we opted for a short cut.  Unfortunately, that involves descending a very steep roadside hill covered with rip rap rocks. But we took our time and paid attention to our footing and we got down OK.  I kept telling my friend "It looks worse than it is".  Yes - I lied.

But we were well rewarded for our efforts.  Water flow was good.  Wind was low.  Few people to get in our way.  With this being my first outing of the year and using my new Nikon D850, it was tough going.  Having been off of photography for several months, my muscle memory wasn't good.  Plus using a new camera added to my frustration.  My friend was popping off his shutter and I was still setting up.  Don't get me wrong, its a good problem to have.

​​​​​​​I was also trying out some new techniques but finally gave up on those and went back to my normal methods.  I need to get a better understanding of my camera to learn how it works.

But it was still a great day to get out with a friend and visit one of North Carolina's best waterfalls.  Stayed tuned for more frequent blogs coming up.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) landscape north carolina waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/4/return-to-little-bradley-falls Sun, 15 Apr 2018 20:31:34 GMT
Nikon D850 - key features review https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/4/nikon-d850---key-features-review It was just a matter of time, but once Nikon announced the D850, I knew at some point I just had to get one.  I got mine about three weeks ago.  I traded in my D810 and sold my nice stereo system to take some of the bite out of the upgrade cost.

I won't cover any of the technical features as there are a ton of excellent reviews on the internet that do a great job of it.  But I will say, they all seem to be true.  Sum it up to say, it's one great camera.

Before you go out an get one, let me tell you about some of the potential hidden costs that surprised me a bit.  

(1) This camera upgrades the memory cards needed.  It has two card slots. One for an XQD card.  The advantage of this card is that its very fast and can handle the very large RAW files of this camera.  The other slot is for SD card.  Its recommended you use the UHS-II format.  You can use a regular SD card but it you use burst mode, you'll likely have buffering issues as well as a longer download time into your computer.  Both of these cards are a lot more expensive than the regular SD cards. Sony pretty much is the only provider of the XQD cards currently.  You'll have to wait a couple of weeks to get them as every retailer has them on backorder.  Given the expense, I will no longer keep my cards as a final backup source but have to rely on my external hard drive backup process.

(2)  The battery grip of the D810 will not fit.  You'll need to get the MDB-18 grip.  So add another $400 there if you want the grip.  Also, if you want to achieve the 9fps rate, you'll have to use the battery grip or you'll only 7fps without it.

(3) Then, of course, you will need new tripod plates if you use them.  I use the Really Right Stuff plates so I got their new L-plate for the D850.  Its a beast and is price accordingly at $200.

(4) Since the Nikon removed the pop-up flash from the D850, you'll likely need to get a radio trigger to fire your flashes.  You still can use a camera mounted flash to use Nikon's CLS system but most photographers recommend going the radio trigger route to avoid the limitations of the line-of-sight limitations on their optical system.  I bought the Phottix Odin II TTL transmitter and receivers.  Again, this will mean additional cost if you want to use off camera flash.

(5) Contrary to the camera's hype, I do not seem to be getting better battery life.  It actually seems to drain batteries faster.  While I haven't been out for a full days' outing yet, I don't think one battery will be enough.  I plan to bring three batteries in total for a full day's shooting.  There are contradicting reviews on battery life on different forums.

(6) With the largest RAW file size, you'll be going through more memory cards.  For me, I will likely need to buy two new 5TB hard drives once my current drives fill up this year.  This is bound to happen.  It will just happen sooner with these large files.

But besides these factors, its a beautiful camera. There are so many improvements to the D850.  I'll cover some of the ones I really like so far.

(1)  Higher resolution.  A huge 45.7MP sensor.  Enough said.

​​​​​​​(2)  Focus peaking.  If you set your lens and the camera to manual focus and use Live View, you are able to see areas of focus outlined in red (or 3 other colors you can use). This will be very good for getting totally sharp focus throughout your photos. For macros, you won't have to guess what parts are in focus.  You can take a series of shots, placing the focus where you want it and stack the resulting photos in post processing.  For landscapes, you can do the same thing.  I'll likely use it for getting a sharp focus on the foreground, middle and background.  Can't wait to really start testing it.

(3)  Focus shift.  Here you let the camera take a series of different photos (up to 100) are varying focal points to later be stacked in post processing.  This automates the process.  This will be a great too for macro photography.  You also have the option of placing the resulting photos in their own folder so you don't have to remember the first and last frames of the sequence.

(4)  9 frames per second if you use the Nikon MBD-18 battery grip.  I don't do a lot of high speed photography but its there if you need it.

(5) 4K video.  Look at other web reviews for this area but its suppose to be fantastic.

(6)  Much better live view.  The screen has great resolution for using live view.  On my old D810, I didn't even bother with live view to shoot.  Just not clear enough.  Well, problem solved.  You also have the ability to use the touch screen for selecting your focus point.  There are more options on live view that I'm still exploring but I will likely use live view much more with this camera.

(7)  Touch screen.  Nikon has caught up with mirrorless cameras with the touch screen.  It works well.  Its nice flipping through menus or photos with a simple swipe.

(8)  New location for ISO button.  From the left side dial, they moved the ISO button to near the shutter so its easier to adjust all the elements of the exposure triangle with your right hand.  I'll have to train my muscle memory with the change but it will be better.

(9) Easy exposure compensation.  Before I knew about this I was bummed out since the normal exposure compensation button by the shutter release has been made more flush with the camera body.  Therefore its not as easy to feel where it is and push.  But then I found out about easy exposure compensation.  If you are in aperture priority mode, you can use the rear dial to change the exposure compensation.  Really easy.

(10) Flip screen.  A great addition.  Solid construction.  Can fully tilt down or up.  This will be great for getting low to the ground or when you want to raise your tripod to shoot from a higher vantage point.  I do wish it could move right and left.  Oh well.

(11) Multiple raw format sizes.  You can select from one of three RAW file sizes.  From small (11.4MP), medium (25.6MP) to large (45.7MP).

Those are the main features I like.  I'm sure I'll be finding many more as I explore the camera and go out on some photo outings.  But if you can bear the additional cost, I don't think you'll be disappointed.  Let me know if you have any questions.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) d850 nikon https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/4/nikon-d850---key-features-review Sun, 15 Apr 2018 00:01:46 GMT
Photo Tours and Instruction - Not so easy https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/4/photo-tours-and-instruction---not-so-easy After retiring and seeing how truly great the photographic possibilities were in western North Carolina, I thought about starting a small photo tour business.  There are several very good photo tours and workshops already available operated by some great photographers.  But I still thought there would be room for me to get started.  I had originally wanted to run about three photo tours per year and fill in with more individual tours.  But it hasn't quite worked out like I hoped.

I created this website as well as a Facebook page.  Next, I started to think about the business end of it, i.e., potential revenue, expenses, legal and liability concerns. To help with potential liability issues, I met with an attorney to draft a pretty solid waiver of liability form.  Each participant would be required to sign this in advance of arriving for their tour.  Then it was time to think about logistics.  This is where things started to slip away.

Since I don't own a large van to transport people during a tour, I looked into renting a vehicle.  Simple enough, right.  Wrong.  If you were to personally rent a vehicle while on vacation, for example, your auto insurance policy would protect you in case of an accident.  But for commercial ventures, you have to have a commercial auto policy.  I also found out that my personal umbrella liability policy would not cover me during a commercial venture.

I contacted several insurance companies to look into getting the appropriate policies. To my surprise, no one wanted to take on this type of risk.  I learned that waivers of liability are largely insufficient in the event someone gets injured.  I did find one agent who thought he could place the coverage.  But after months of waiting and back and forth discussion, it fell through.  

The best way to protect my personal assets would be to form an LLC.  The initial cost is a bit high but then there's the ongoing renewal costs.  It would be easier to get insurance but it gets very expensive.  My personal car would have to become part of the LLC and be retitled.  Commercial auto insurance is 2-3 times the cost of regular auto insurance.  So the costs just kept mounting as did the hassle factor.  I just kept wondering how all the other photo tour operators managed this risk.  But their operations were likely much larger than what I anticipated and their revenue would be better able to cover these expenses.

In the end, I had to decide to rule out conducting formal photo tours.  Rather, I will provide individual instruction and tours but require that they drive their car.  I've done some of these and they work well.  I still require the waiver of liability and I try to manage risks but not going to any risky locations.  I also can exercise more control on people's movements to avoid severe injuries.

But please contact me if you'd like a great private photo tour and/or instruction.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) instruction photo tours https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2018/4/photo-tours-and-instruction---not-so-easy Sat, 14 Apr 2018 23:06:53 GMT
Trolling in the Smokys https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/11/trolling-in-the-smokys A friend of mine told me about a neat little very old stone bridge located in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  It's called the Troll Bridge.  I could not find anything about its history but its in the Elkmount Campground on the Little River Trail.  As you can see, it is a pretty cool looking little bridge.

My friend and I were in the Park to photograph the beautiful cascades in the Tremont area with nearly peak autumn colors.  Since it was still too bright there we decided to try finding the bridge first.  The Elkmount Campground is located between Gatlinburg and Townsend.  Just before you reach the campground, turn to the left and go all the way to the end to a parking lot.  At the far end of the lot is the trailhead for the Little River Trail.  There is a faint trail to the right about 100 feet from the trailhead.  You will not be able to see the bridge from the trail as its in the woods a bit. Walk the path a short distance and you should see the bridge.  Its not big so its not easily spotted.

When we were there the trees were past peak so getting a good composition was a bit tough.  Lighting also didn't help the cause either.  If we had been there a bit earlier in the season and early in the AM, it could have been really nice.  But I got the best I could here and overall its not too bad.

I understand in the spring there are a lot of wild flowers around, which could make for a nice photograph.

Anyway, check it out the next time you are in the Smokys. Tremont - November 2017Tremont - November 2017

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(Reid Northrup Photography) bridge creek forest great smoky mountain national park national park nature nikon reid northrup smoky mountains stone bridge stream tennessee trees troll bridge https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/11/trolling-in-the-smokys Fri, 17 Nov 2017 16:27:10 GMT
Move Your Body https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/11/move-your-body Most of the people that will read this post already know one of the gold rules of photographic composition - moving around your location for different vantage points and compositions.  But it does bear repeating.

When I first started in photography I was so excited to get to where I was going, I opened up my tripod and plopped it down and started clicking away with different settings and zoom factors.  I generally came away with a keeper or two but missed so many other, and possibly better, compositions.

Over time, I listened to speakers at our local camera club, watched YouTube videos, or read articles stating that the approach I was using was dead wrong.  They said when you don't get to your location, don't just set up your tripod and start clicking away.  Take some time to study the entire scene.  Move your body around the entire area - right, left, lower, higher, etc.  Take your camera and look through the viewfinder to envision different possibilities.  Try both landscape and portrait orientations to see which works best.  Get on your belly (in my case, that's not very easy anymore), your knees or stand up to check out different vantage points.  Look behind you to see what you may be missing.  Most times I find doing this really opens up some great photographic opportunities.  

To give an illustration of what I mean, I'll use two examples from a recent visit to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  One of my favorite areas of the Park is the Tremont section which is just before you reach Cades Cove and around the turnoff for Townsend.  There is a wonderful cascade toward the end of the road heading in Tremont.  Its located right before you reach the parking area.  Its a bit of a steep slide to get to the water's edge but its really not too bad if you're careful.

Here is the "normal" composition you see most often.  Its taken from the top of a large boulder, which highlights the nice curve of the cascade.  Granted, I love this angle myself. But just don't accept it. Look around and see what else could be possible.

Tremont Autumn Cascade II - November 2017Tremont Autumn Cascade II - November 2017

Even though it was getting dark, I took a minute to look around to find other opportunities.  Was there a way to safely get across the stream?  In this case, no, the water was too deep and moving much too quickly.  Remember - safety first!  But then I noticed some rocks that were downstream a bit that would allow me to move more in front of this cascade.  So why not try it?  By simply moving my body to another location, I was able to get this photograph.

Tremont Autumn Cascade    November 2017Tremont Autumn Cascade November 2017 I really like the way this photograph turned out too.  Its completely different than the other angle but it shows more of the varied water movement coming over the cascade.

So on your next outing, don't immediately set up your tripod and settle for one spot.  Investigate the location thoroughly for a while looking for many compositions.  Get higher, lower, move right then left.  I think you'll come away with more "keepers" than you might realize.

 

 

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) #rrs fine art forest great smoky mountain national park landscape long exposure mouse creek falls nature nikon reid northrup rocks stream tennessee trees water waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/11/move-your-body Tue, 07 Nov 2017 16:27:25 GMT
Finally - The Autumn Shot I've always wanted https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/11/finally---the-autumn-shot-ive-always-wanted This autumn season has been a bit frustrating for me this year.  Colors have not looked all that bright.  Peak times in locations has been more difficult to find as well.  I've driven a lot of miles this season with not a lot of quality photos I'd been hoping for.  I've been waiting to go to the Smokys.  From reading posts on Flickr, I heard the Tremont area was looking good.  So a friend and I headed there last Thursday.  We drove across the Park on 441 but there wasn't any real good color.  Spotty at best.  As we started down heading toward Gatlinburg, the colors looked much more promising.  Our spirits began to lift.  We thought we'd try Cade's Cove since it was mid-afternoon.  Wow - it was a awful long line of cars meandering around the road.  We cut our losses and cut across on Sparks Lane and headed for Tremont.  Great decision.  The Tremont area was just a bit past peak but still fantastic.  This photo is taken at a very popular of the Park just before the parking lot at the end of the road.  This wide well rounded boulder, when it has good water flow, is spectacular to photograph.  Most compositions are shot from atop the boulder and I shot there also.  This photo was taken just a bit downstream and I think it turned out really well IMOH.  : )

I'll still be hunting for last remaining bits of color this coming week hoping to find some good photos.  I hope your fall photo season provided you with some real wall-hangers.

Tremont Autumn Cascade    November 2017Tremont Autumn Cascade November 2017

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(Reid Northrup Photography) cascade great smoky mountain national park landscape long exposure nature nikon reid northrup river smokys stream tennessee water https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/11/finally---the-autumn-shot-ive-always-wanted Sat, 04 Nov 2017 23:26:59 GMT
Pearson Falls and Cashiers Fall Color Report https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/10/pearson-falls-and-cashiers-fall-color-report I made a quick and short visit to Pearson Falls in Saluda, NC a couple of days ago to check out the color.  It was a very sunny day so I arrived right at sunrise.  Colors were OK as you can see below.  I couldn't get as many photos as I wanted since the morning breeze was a bit much.  But I did manage to get this photo, which I think turned out OK.

Cascade at Pearson FallsCascade at Pearson Falls

Also tried to visit the Smokys today, 10/27, but never got there.  After getting up painfully early I arrived first at White Owl Falls just outside of Cashiers, NC.  After our recent rains, I expected the falls would be flowing very well.  But with the severe storms that hit last weekend, numerous trees and brush were down and making the already sketchy trail non-existent.  Since I was alone, I thought it would be well advised not to attempt to get down to the stream so I reversed course and made my way to my next stop, Whitewater Falls.  Strike one.

In good fall conditions, Whitewater Falls can really be spectacular.  Well this isn't what I found.  Colors still hadn't fully come in and it wasn't even worth getting out of the car.  Strike two.

Certainly then, nearby Silver Run Falls would be good.  But a funny thing happened on my way there.  There was some good color on NC107 south of Cashiers as I approached the parking area.  But as I was driving I caught a glimpse of a little church off the main road.  I decided to turn in to check it out.  But it wasn't really photo worthy so I tried to find a place to turn around.  I noticed an open area on the road and thought I had room for a Y-turn.  Unfortunately what appeared to be solid ground was more like quick sand and my front wheel drive car sank up to mid wheel making it impossible to move.  Well, this sure is fun.  Of course, there is no cell service either.  But luckily after a bit, a work crew driving by stopped and pushed me out.  Strike three.

I contemplated still proceeding to the Smokys.  But by now the now was shining brightly in the sky and I didn't want to shoot for strike four.  So I cut my losses and drove home without clicking my shutter once.

But while there was some color around Lake Toxaway, the color still really hadn't come in yet.  I still plan to get to the Smokys later next week so I'll let you know the color situation then but it may be too late by then.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) #rrs cascade fine art forest landscape long exposure nature nikon north carolina pearson falls reid northrup rocks stream trees water https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/10/pearson-falls-and-cashiers-fall-color-report Sat, 28 Oct 2017 02:20:13 GMT
Published in Light and Landscape Magazine https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/10/published-in-light-and-landscape-magazine Upon the recommendation of a friend, Curtis, I submitted an article about my favorite waterfall in North Carolina - Eastatoe Falls, to Light and Landscape magazine.  It is a web-based magazine.  The article was published today and one of my photos was selected for the cover.  While its a small magazine, I'm still happy about it.  Hey, you have to start somewhere, right?  The article is titled, "The Many Faces of Eastatoe Falls".  Eastatoe is one of those great waterfalls that remains photogenic regardless of the time of year or the flow of the water. My photos illustrate the many compositions that can be used at this beautiful waterfall.  If you care to read it, follow this link.  http://www.lightandlandscape.co/magazine

Light and Landscape - October 2017Light and Landscape - October 2017

 

 

 

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) eastatoe falls forest landscape long exposure nature nikon north carolina reid northrup rocks trees waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/10/published-in-light-and-landscape-magazine Thu, 26 Oct 2017 21:02:28 GMT
Linn Cove Viaduct and Western NC Color Report https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/10/linn-cove-viaduct-and-western-nc-color-report Took several trips up to the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Linn Cove Viaduct last week.  This photo was taken on the 12th.  The previous day was clear blue bright (awful) skies.  So I was very happy to see clouds on this morning.  Took a different composition here than the typical viaduct photo.  I actually missed the traditional vantage point.  We arrived pretty early to photograph the viaduct.  Unfortunately, there was another "photographer" on the rock perch needed to take the photo.  He just stayed and stayed hogging the rock while my friend and I tried to patiently wait.  All the while thinking the clouds could be short lived. I'm all for "he was there first" but when there is only one spot to photograph from, don't hog the spot for too long.  The irritating thing is that he wasn't even shooting.  He was just sitting there!!

Well he finally left and my friend got to the spot first and got his shots and then it was my turn.  So just when I was about to click the shutter, guess what?  Yeah, the other guy decided to position himself right on the viaduct clearly in my composition.  Now I claimed, "I was there first" and he knew I was there.  Now remember the light and clouds could be changing at any minute so I was getting impatient.  Finally, he filled up his SD card and left.  Alas, I can get my shots finally.  Amen.  That didn't last long and he reappears with a fresh SD card.  But now he proceeds even further on the viaduct.  OK, I finally had it and yelled out to him that he was in my shot (with a "friendly tone" of course).  He continued to shoot.  Finally, he left and said something I couldn't hear.  Really?

So I was racing to get some shots since the clouds in the other direction opened up and had beautiful sun rays from heaven shining through.  So in my impatience and hurrying, I forgot to take any photos in landscape orientation.  AGGGHHH!  Of course, I didn't realize it until I was home and uploaded my photos to my computer.

So please fellow photographers, be aware of others shooting around you and work together to get all the shots everyone wants.  Share the scene.

Changing topics, the colors north on the Parkway around the viaduct and Rough Ridge are well past peak.  I took a drive to the western part of NC taking US64 west from Asheville.  Surprisingly, there wasn't much color at all.  Dry Falls had some and seemed to be fading.  Cullasaja Falls was all green.  Going further into the Smokys we were greeted with green foliage with just a hint that changes were coming.  So if you'll be in the area of the Smokys, colors should be good mid to late next week.  I'll be there for sure.

Happy Shooting!

Linn Cove Viaduct - October 2017Linn Cove Viaduct - October 2017

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(Reid Northrup Photography) blue ridge mountains forest landscape mountains nature nikon north carolina reid northrup rocks trees https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/10/linn-cove-viaduct-and-western-nc-color-report Thu, 19 Oct 2017 22:04:46 GMT
Heaven's Light on the Parkway https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/10/heavens-light-on-the-parkway Spent about two and half days up on the Blue Ridge Parkway this week - mostly around the Linn Cove Viaduct / Rough Ridge area.  Great colors are popping.  Colors should be good through mid-month moving into the lower elevations.  If you're thinking of going, get out soon or risk seeing them.

I took this photo on the Linn Cove Viaduct on Oct. 12.  What a morning.  The clouds were good and the wind calm.  It was early enough too that the steady stream of cars hadn't started up yet.  For about 30 minutes these gorgeous sun rays kept streaming down.  I was perched up on the rock to get the postcard shot of the Parkway and they showed up.  I was so anxious to get down to photograph them before they vanished, I forgot to take a landscape oriented photo of the viaduct.  AGGGGHHH!  How could I have done that.  Lesson learned, rushing photos means losing key compositions.

After I climbed down from the perch, I got across the road to set up my tripod.  I've not tried to photograph these types of sun rays before so I wasn't sure how to set my exposure.  The lower trees were not well lit either.  I decided to stack some graduated ND filters and that seemed to help.  So I bracketed some shots to see what would work later during post processing.

The raw images didn't really show the rays strongly but they were visible.  By using the graduated filter in Lightroom CC and by adding a bit of contrast, I got the sun rays to really pop.  Then with just a bit of brightening of the lower portion of the photo, I took it into Color Efex Pro 4 and used just a few filters to get this result.  No Photoshop work was done beside adding my logo.

I hope I've done justice to a great show put on my Mother Nature.

Blue Ridge Parkway - October 2017Blue Ridge Parkway - October 2017

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/10/heavens-light-on-the-parkway Fri, 13 Oct 2017 19:47:09 GMT
Colors are Popping on the Blue Ridge Parkway https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/10/colors-are-popping-on-the-blue-ridge-parkway I just took a very quick trip up to the Linn Cove Viaduct area of the Blue Ridge Parkway yesterday.  Colors are primo right now.  Don't wait - head to there before they fade.  Colors popped in about a day per the locals.  Heading back up tomorrow and Thursday too.  

This photo was taken off the bridge on the Tanawha Trail at the Boone Fork turnoff north of Rough Ridge.  I didn't have the ability to shoot the bridge since no water shoes.  AGGGHHH!  Try that tomorrow.

But head to the Parkway before the colors fade or the wind takes them.  ENJOY!!

October 2017  Blue Ridge ParkwayOctober 2017 Blue Ridge Parkway

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/10/colors-are-popping-on-the-blue-ridge-parkway Tue, 10 Oct 2017 17:00:18 GMT
Visit to White Oak Falls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/10/visit-to-white-oak-falls A few days ago, I made my way back to White Oak Falls.  During my earlier visit recent rains really had the waterfall flowing too hard.  This day, the water was much better with a bit more definition.  I had hope to get into my water shoes and get over the far side to check it out.  But the water was still a bit deep to risk getting over there.

I do like White Oak Falls.  Its certainly easy to get to from the parking area only requiring a little bit of rock scrambling to get to a short path along the left side of the stream.  There are a lot of distractions around the water though.  There is a patch of tall weeds right where the stream curves and it is not very attractive.  So you have to try different compositions to handle them.  I did have to erase some twigs and limbs scattered about in post processing.  I try to avoid doing that but sometimes its that or ditch the photo.

In terms of colors around the Smokys, none as of October 3rd.  Friends also told me that as of October 5th, there were no colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway around Mt. Mitchell and the Boone area.  Shouldn't be much longer though.

Hope your autumn photography goes well for everyone.  Later.

 

 

 

 

White Oak Falls - October 2017White Oak Falls - October 2017

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(Reid Northrup Photography) https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/10/visit-to-white-oak-falls Sat, 07 Oct 2017 19:40:24 GMT
First Visit to Mouse Creek Falls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/9/first-visit-to-mouse-creek-falls  

Mouse Creek Falls - September 2017Mouse Creek Falls - September 2017

After some good rains, a friend and I got an early start to see a new waterfall, Mouse Creek Falls.  After seeing some great photos by Jason Frye, I knew I had to see this beautiful waterfall.  It did not disappoint.

Conditions were very good with cloudy skies early.  But even on a sunny day, the main falls, like you see here, are heavily protected by trees.  Foreground less so.

The 4.2 mile round-trip hike in is rated a "3" in Kevin Adams' book.  The hike in was more like a "4" to me being a steady slight uphill climb with some rocks and roots to watch out for.  The downhill hike back was considerably nicer.

With the hike, we spent six hours photographing the area.  There are so many possibilities.  At about 1.75 miles in, there is a very popular swimming hole on the left with a small waterfall at the head.  I tried going downstream a bit to get a better angle of the waterfall but I was too far away to really get anything I liked.

All along the hike, there are some very nice cascades to photograph provided the water flow is good.  We met someone familiar with Mouse Creek and he commented that he'd never seen as much water as this day.  Guess we had some good luck.

Mouse Creek Falls is located in Mt. Sterling in western North Carolina.  I'd definitely recommend putting it on your "to see" waterfall list.

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) #rrs fine art forest great smoky mountain national park landscape long exposure mouse creek falls nature nikon reid northrup rocks stream tennessee trees water waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/9/first-visit-to-mouse-creek-falls Sun, 17 Sep 2017 23:49:19 GMT
On The Way to Whiteoak Falls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/9/on-the-way-to-whiteoak-falls  

Cascading StreamCascading Stream

A friend and I took a drive to the southwest corner of North Carolina recently to visit Whiteoak Falls.  As we were driving along a short stretch of Wayah Road southwest of Bryson City, there was a parking area next to this great multi-tier cascade.  It is a great location with many compositional opportunities.  It is just downstream of Whiteoak Falls so its easy to take in both.  I'd highly recommend visiting Whiteoak Falls.  I'll create a post of the waterfall shortly.

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) cascade fine art forest landscape long exposure nature nikon north carolina reid northrup rocks stream trees water whiteoak falls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/9/on-the-way-to-whiteoak-falls Sat, 09 Sep 2017 23:54:11 GMT
Bee Careful at "Tropical" Eastatoe Falls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/8/bee-careful-at-eastatoe-falls Tropical EastatoeTropical Eastatoe

Took a client to Eastatoe Falls the other day for a day of instruction on learning digital photography.  We were greeted with nearly perfect conditions.  While my fellow photographer was practicing, I managed to snap off this quick photo to take advantage of this great scene.  The fog lingering in the top of the trees made this a must have photo.  With recent rains and all the foliage being saturated it made it look like we were in a tropical rainforest.

But in terms of today's title, there is a very large wasp nest near the waterfall.  An earlier visitor had been stung near the bridge of his nose.  Ouch.  As you walk up the entrance trail, the nest is just to the left as you make the left trail up to the falls.  If you leave it alone you should be OK.  

Happy Shooting!!

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(Reid Northrup Photography) blue ridge mountains estatoe falls fine art forest landscape long exposure mountains nature nikon north carolina reid northrup rocks stream trees water waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/8/bee-careful-at-eastatoe-falls Thu, 31 Aug 2017 20:05:25 GMT
Bullington Gardens - Hendersonville, NC https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/8/bullington-gardens---hendersonville-nc Peaceful PlacePeaceful Place

An early morning visit to a local garden in Hendersonville, NC - Bullington Gardens.  Their website tells the history of it:

"Bob Bullington who was a NY City policeman had a true passion for horticulture which he finally pursued full time after retiring when he moved to Hendersonville with his wife Sally and founded Flora Knoll Farms in 1979. He operated the ornamental nursery until his passing in 1989. He had a vision for introducing new and unusual plants in to the nursery trade that included native azaleas, new varieties of mountain laurel and trees from Asia, mature examples of which can be found in the gardens such as a variety of Japanese maples, Tanyosho Japanese red pine, kousa dogwoods, Japanese stewartia, paper bark maple and Japanese pagoda tree. Other specimen plants include a Sargeant’s weeping hemlock, double flowering dogwood, big leaf magnolia and yellowwood.

After his death, the Bullington property became the Bullington Horticultural Learning Center, owned by the Henderson County Education Foundation (HCEF) and leased to Henderson County Public Schools HCPS). Today Bullington Gardens is a partnership of HCPS and the NC Cooperative Extension."

The garden holds a number of different varieties of flowers and plants.  Weather today was great - low wind and overcast skies.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) flowers garden garden bench hendersonville landscape nature nikon north carolina trees https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/8/bullington-gardens---hendersonville-nc Sat, 26 Aug 2017 01:54:26 GMT
Autumn Photo Opportunity in Little Switzerland, NC https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/8/autumn-photo-opportunity-in-little-switzerland-nc Emerald Village Quarry Pit

During a trip up along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, a friend and I stumbled across Emerald Village.  Its a small local tourist stop just outside of Little Switzerland, NC.  The quarry pit is pretty nice to me but I'd expect it to be exceptional during peak fall colors.  Since I'll be up around here in October I'll plan to stop by again to see for myself.  If you have small children, this might be a fun place to stop to pan for gems and gold.  There is a museum and tours available.  The specific address is 331 McKinney Mine Road in Spruce Pine, NC.

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) blue ridge mountains blue ridge parkway cliff forest landscape little switzerland mine nature north carolina quarry reid northrup rocks trees water https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/8/autumn-photo-opportunity-in-little-switzerland-nc Sun, 20 Aug 2017 20:42:45 GMT
Eastatoe Falls Revisited https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/8/eastatoe-falls-revisited Eastatoe Falls - August 2017Eastatoe Falls - August 2017

Went back to Eastatoe Falls in Rosman, NC.  It is my favorite waterfall after all.  I needed to reshoot this composition.  During my last visit I made the mistake of putting my focus point on the waterfall.  During post processing I noticed many of the tree leaves were out of focus.  Luckily I had great conditions since it was just a bit foggy and had recently rained.  The flow was greater has well, which I think added to the photograph.  This is a unique waterfall as its located on private property.  But the gracious owners allow visitors on their property and to park in their backyard.  How great is that!  The Nature Conservancy has tried to purchase the property but the parties can't agree on a price.

If you'd like to join me on a photo outing, please contact me for availability and prices.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) estatoe falls forest landscape long exposure nature north carolina rocks stream trees water waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/8/eastatoe-falls-revisited Thu, 17 Aug 2017 22:06:53 GMT
Schoolhouse Falls and Some Serious Hikers https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/8/schoolhouse-falls-and-some-serious-hikers Schoolhouse Falls - August 2017Schoolhouse Falls - August 2017

Schoolhouse Falls is a great waterfall and one I had not visited yet...that is until last week.  A friend from our local camera club and I thought it would be a nice relatively easy hike of under 2.5 miles.  Easy right.  Turned out not so much.

To find Schoolhouse Falls, I'd recommend doing an internet search or reference pg. 297 in the latest edition of Kevin Adams' North Carolina Waterfalls book.  The number of trails to follow, etc. is a bit much to include here.  Generally, this waterfall is located near Lake Toxaway in western North Carolina and its pretty easy to find the trailhead.

As you may be able to tell from the photo, the waterfall is pretty open to the sky so photographing it early or late in the day or during cloudy conditions would be the best.  But it is a pretty nice waterfall. You can walk across the stream to get to the base of the waterfall to shoot from behind it.  Spray will be an issue if you get too close.

As we were finishing up shooting a local hiking club showed up.  The dozen or so hikers had a leader who looked pretty elderly as did some of its members.  After finishing my last few photos, we visited with the group for a while.  Turns out the leader was 85 and has led hikes twice a week for several years.  On another day he does trail maintenance.  Wow!  I want to be this guy when I grow up!  They invited my friend and me to hike with them to their next stop - Warden Falls.  Since it wasn't too far away, we tagged along.

So much for a day of easy hiking.  The trail quickly disappeared and turned out to be more of bushwhack through trees and rhododendrons.  And, of course, more elevation changes.  I picked the wrong day to forget my lunch.  I was last in line to cross a stream.  After changing into my water shoes and getting going, the group had disappeared down the "trail".  Of course I couldn't see any trail or the group for that matter.  Being so close to the waterfall, I couldn't hear anyone either.  So I took off bushwhacking through the brush staying close to the river, sometimes on my hands and knees.  I finally saw a some red off to the side and thought it was the group and thankfully it was.  So an easy day of hiking turned out a bit differently.  The group had taken a better path than the one I took - of course.

Warden Falls is a so-so waterfall in my opinion and I'm not sure I'd make a special trip to photograph it.  Perhaps in autumn it would be more photogenic.  But its always great to see nature's beauty and enjoy being away from the daily routine. 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) forest landscape long exposure nature nikon north carolina reid northrup rhododendrons rocks stream trees water waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/8/schoolhouse-falls-and-some-serious-hikers Wed, 16 Aug 2017 22:13:17 GMT
State Butterfly of North Carolina https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/8/state-butterfly-of-north-carolina A friend of mine from our local camera club took a short outing to a unique place the other day - along Interstate 26 West near Arden, NC.  There was a large patch of sunflowers along the highway.  After parking safely at a nearby rest area, we backtracked to the flowers.  Being surrounded these beautiful tall flowers is quite something and I'm 6'1".  Bees were everywhere doing their thing.  After taking numerous photos I was on my last flower and fortune showed on me.  Out of nowhere this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, our state butterfly, landed right in front of us.  It was there only momentarily so I was fortunate to get this photograph.  The flowers were already starting to fade so I'll be sure to remember it.  If you live nearby, I'd recommend marking your calendar for next late July.

 

Tiger SwallowtailTiger Swallowtail

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(Reid Northrup Photography) butterfly flower landscape nature north carolina sunflower tiger swallowtail yellow https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/8/state-butterfly-of-north-carolina Mon, 07 Aug 2017 20:13:45 GMT
Tremont (GSMNP) Water Flow Sub-Optimal https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/6/tremont-gsmnp-water-flow-sub-optimal Tremont - June 2017Tremont - June 2017

During a visit to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, a friend and I visited the Tremont area.  This area of the park has a good size stream following the road in.  In good lighting and water flow conditions, this area has numerous photo opportunities for various size cascades.  But water levels need to be right.  During a visit in mid-April the water flow was much too high since the region had a lot of rainfall.  Now, with lower rain levels the flow was much slower and less than optimum for good photographs.

But there was one location that was better than most, likely given the narrower channel in the stream.  The big plus here is that the stream falls over a large rounded rock outcropping, which I think is pretty nice.  To find this spot, take the road into the Tremont area nearly all the way to the end.  About 1/2 mile or less before you hit the end, you'll see a nice curve in the stream.  This rounded rock will be a bit right of center as you look down into this curve.  I shot this from atop a large boulder in the stream.  To get to the stream requires a scramble down the hill but farther to right side you can find somewhat of an easier path down to the stream.  If the water is flowing like is shown here, do not attempt to get into the water for a better composition.  You could easily slip and get injured.

But visit the Tremont area of the park.  It is usually not very busy, has lots of room to park, and in the right conditions offers hours of photography fun.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) forest great smoky mountain national park landscape nature rocks stream tennessee trees water https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/6/tremont-gsmnp-water-flow-sub-optimal Fri, 16 Jun 2017 03:07:54 GMT
Peak Time on Roan Mountain and Jane Bald https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/6/peak-time-on-roan-mountain Blaze Azaleas on Roan Mountain Blaze Azaleas on Roan Mountain Took my main hike of the season up to Roan Mountain with a good friend yesterday.  We were greeted with a prime peak of Catawba Rhododendrons and Blaze Azaleas.  There can't be a better place on earth.  No way Iceland beats this location at this time of year.  It won't last much longer so please get up if you intend to go.

For those not familiar with Roan Mountain, it is located on the North Carolina / Tennessee border, about a 40 minute drive south west of Banner Elk, NC.  You find the trailhead at Carver's Gap, which is also part of the Appalachian Trail.  From Carver's Gap, start your hike up to Round Bald. A "bald" is a grassy meadow with very few trees on top section.  Continue to Jane Bald, which is one of the favorite photo ops due to a rocky outcrop with a wonderful westerly view.  You can get some great sunset photographs under good conditions.  Continue further to the final bald, Grassy Ridge.  Throughout your hike you will see hillsides covered with purple and orange flowers.  The sight is spectacular. 

In all, the roundtrip hike is about 8 miles or so.  While not a overly strenuous hike, it will give you a workout especially if you're carrying photo equipment.  Since you'll likely want to spend all day there exploring, be sure to take plenty of water and food.  You can easily spend 12 hours on Roan Mountain.  Also, if it sunny, be sure to wear sun block. There is very little shade.  Be aware weather changes quickly up there.  On our hike we got caught in three rain showers during the day and ended the day walking the final two miles out in a heavy downpour.  If a thunderstorm arises, get off the mountain quickly as you can since this area has frequent lighting strikes and poses a high risk to hikers.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) appalachian trail azaleas blaze azaleas blue ridge mountains carvers gap catawba rhododendrons clouds forest jane bald landscape mountains nature north carolina roan mountain sky tennessee https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/6/peak-time-on-roan-mountain Tue, 13 Jun 2017 21:53:31 GMT
Update on Water Flow from Mill Shoals and Eastatoe Falls https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/6/update-on-water-flow-from-mill-shoals-and-eastatoe-falls Mill Shoals Falls - North Carolina

Located on Hwy 215 at the Living Waters Ministry, Mill Shoals Falls is a nice double waterfall.  I visited there today to check out the water flow.  A couple of weeks ago during my previous visit, the flow was tremendous due to heavy rains.  But now the flow is very nice, allowing some very nice compositions using long exposures.  Since this the waterfalls are fully exposed to the sun, be sure to go very early or late or under heavy cloud cover.  Don't forget the visit Bird Rock Falls during your stop.  The trail is right off the little trail down to Mill Shoals.  If you go and the rocks are wet, be extremely careful as the rocks are as slick as ice.

Eastatoe Falls - Rosman, NC

About 30 minutes south from Mill Shoals Falls you can easily get to Eastatoe Falls.  This is one of my personal favorite waterfalls in North Carolina.  Water flow here was excellent since rain has tapered off.  This waterfall allows a seemingly endless number of compositions.  So now would be a good time to visit Eastatoe.  Hopefully, rain will maintain the current flow.

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) landscape living waters ministry long exposure mill shoals nature nikon north carolina rocks trees https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/6/update-on-water-flow-from-mill-shoals-and-eastatoe-falls Sat, 10 Jun 2017 22:43:18 GMT
Craggy Gardens Rhododendrons are Blooming! https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/6/craggy-gardens-rhododendrons-are-blooming Craggy Gardens - Blue Ridge Parkway, June 2017Blooms with a view

The Catawba Rhododendrons near Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway are in full bloom.  A friend and I visited the area today and were somewhat surprised how many blooms there were.  At the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, the blooms are just starting to come out but we did find some nice ones on the trail for isolated photos.  We proceeded north and then found many mature blooms.  Near Mt. Mitchell the blooms were still pretty full but we did notice some plants were just starting to bud out.  They need another 3-4 days.  If you want to enjoy the blooms, head up there soon or you may miss them.  Happy shooting!

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(Reid Northrup Photography) blue ridge mountains blue ridge parkway clouds fine art forest landscape nature north carolina rhododendrons trees https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/6/craggy-gardens-rhododendrons-are-blooming Sat, 03 Jun 2017 00:31:27 GMT
Rhododendrons in bloom near Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/5/rhodod East Fork Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway - May 2017East Fork Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway - May 2017

Got up today and headed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway near Graveyard Fields.  I had heard that the rhododendrons were blooming up there.  Sure enough, they were.  But unlike the Craggy Garden area, compositions with mountains views with  rhododendrons in the foreground are very limited.  I was fortunate to find this photo op at the East Fork Overlook - elevation 4955 feet.  This is one of my favorite times to visit the Parkway.  The other is autumn.  It doesn't get much better than this.

Rhododendron at East Fork Overlook on the Blue Ridge ParkwayRhododendron at East Fork Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) blue ridge mountains blue ridge parkway clouds east fork overlook fine art forest graveyard fields landscape mountains nature north carolina rhododendrons scenic https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/5/rhodod Sat, 27 May 2017 21:02:11 GMT
Streams overflowing near Walker Falls and Craggy Rhododendron Report - North Carolina https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/5/streams-overflowing-near-walker-falls-and-craggy-rhododendron-report Near Walker FallsNear Walker Falls  

A friend and I headed out to see Walker Falls yesterday which is located about 10 miles outside of Barnardsville, NC.  Due to very heavy overnight rains, we found many normally dry runoff streams which had become beautiful cascades of flowing water.  As we drove along FR474, they were everywhere offering us numerous photo opportunities.  Here is another one.  One missed photo opportunity was when a small black bear ran across the road as we approached.  

Near Walker Falls IINear Walker Falls II

Unless it continues to rain, these streams won't be running this hard for much longer.  If you want to have a great time shooting in this area, I wouldn't wait too long.  As for Walker Falls itself, we didn't have much luck. While its a beautiful waterfall I don't think its a wonderful photo opportunity unless you have perfect conditions.  Since there was a breeze the tree limbs in front of the falls had leaves that would be blowing.  I didn't see a way of using Photoshop layer masks to blend two exposures so we let this time pass.  We had fun just shooting all the wonderful cascades in the area.

 

Craggy Garden Report (May 25, 2017)

After leaving Barnardsville, we headed up to Mt. Mitchell and Craggy Gardens to see how the rhododendron blooms were progressing.  We saw full blooms in the lower elevations north of Mt. Mitchell.  But we gained in elevation the blooms were still in their buds.  Between Mt. Mitchell and Craggy there were some buds that were just beginning to break out but nothing major.  I plan to revisit the area late next week to check on the bloom progress and will report what I find.  Have a great weekend.

 

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) walker falls barnardsville blue ridge parkway catawba rhododendrons craggy gardens forest landscape long exposure mount mitchell north carolina rhododendrons waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/5/streams-overflowing-near-walker-falls-and-craggy-rhododendron-report Fri, 26 May 2017 15:06:03 GMT
Craggy Garden Report https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/5/craggy-garden-report This afternoon (5/21), I took a quick scouting trip north on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Craggy Gardens.  I thought the blooms may be a bit early due to the relatively mild winter.  Sure enough, at the Craggy Garden Visitor Center, I saw a few full blooms and several more ready to pop.  However, just a bit further north at the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, the blooms were all in their buds.  I'm thinking about another 7-10 days and they should be good.  Roan Mountain blooms won't be far away.  I love this time of year!!

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(Reid Northrup Photography) blue ridge mountains blue ridge parkway clouds craggy garden forest mountains nature north carolina rocks https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/5/craggy-garden-report Sat, 20 May 2017 22:34:15 GMT
Water Level on the Boone Fork Overlook Trail - North Carolina https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/5/water-level-on-the-boone-fork-overlook-trail Cascade at Boone Fork Overlook BridgeCascade at Boone Fork Overlook Bridge

While in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, I headed south on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Boone Fork Overlook.  With the recent rains, I thought that the Wilson Creek would be flowing well under the bridge on the Tanawah Trail.  Unfortunately it was not, it was quite weak.  However, I did take this photo off the far end of the bridge and caught this nice little cascade.

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(Reid Northrup Photography) blue ridge parkway boone fork overlook creek forest landscape leaves long exposure nature north carolina rocks stream tanawha trail trees water wilson creek https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/5/water-level-on-the-boone-fork-overlook-trail Sat, 20 May 2017 22:27:56 GMT
Eastatoe Falls is Open for Business Again with New Staircase https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/5/eastatoe-falls-is-open-for-business-again-with-new-staircase  

Eastatoe FallsEastatoe Falls

Eastatoe Falls has a brand new staircase down to the main waterfall.  Its very nice and the "safe" stairs extend all the way down to ground.  No more having to navigate that one last tall step down or up.

I made yet another visit to this wonderful waterfall today.  The flow was exceptionally nice.  It hasn't been this full for about two years given we were in a severe drought last year.  The unusual thing about this waterfall is that it is on private property in someone's backyard.  Even better, the wonderful owners allow people to drive on in, park in their backyard and walk back into the woods a short ways to the waterfall.

This waterfall has an exceptional number of compositional opportunities.  No matter what lens you want to use or distance or angle, you can get really nice photographs.  The rocks are usually always wet and the bright moss adds so much color and texture.

When flows are really heavy, take the side path to the right before getting to the main waterfall.  In a very short distance you'll see a rope suspension bridge leading up to a small enclosure with a couple of chairs.  Right beneath the bridge are some very nice cascades - take a look.

 

Cascade of Eastatoe FallsCascade of Eastatoe Falls

Until recently, I haven't seen this nice of a flow here.  It can be just a little tricky trying to get down low into the stream to get this angle and keep your feet (and gear) dry.  But I'm glad to have finally got some of the compositions I have wanted.

Eastatoe Falls is located in Rosman, NC just a few miles south of town on Highway 178.

 

 

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(Reid Northrup Photography) eastatoe falls landscape landscape photography long exposure moss north carolina rocks trees waterfall https://www.reidnorthrupphotography.com/blog/2017/5/eastatoe-falls-is-open-for-business-again-with-new-staircase Sat, 13 May 2017 23:42:35 GMT