Craggy Gardens - Blue Ridge Parkway, June 2017Craggy Gardens - Blue Ridge Parkway, June 2017

Moore Cove Falls - Dealing with Breeze Created by Waterfall

May 21, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

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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