Larry Treadwell  


Hues of Autumn by Larry Treadwell

November 2019 - Hues of Autumn

About the Image(s)

Hues of Autumn

On a recent trip to North Carolina I sweet talked by wife in the getting early one morning so we could hit the road in time to get to Looking Glass Fall with there was still good light for photography. The falls is just east of Ashville and south of the Blue Ridge Parkway and is a favorite swimming hole in the summer. Even on this chilly morning the place was crowded (but this time with photographers) when I arrived. While walking to the falls I passed a photographer (with high end DSLR and massive tripod). As she walked past me she told me not to bother photographing the falls as it was in shade and there was no light at all on the falls. She said she was planning to return during midday when the sun would be over the falls. I hustled to the falls as fast as possible. I have found that the best time to photograph waterfalls is when they are either in shade or on very cloudy days because this type of weather reduces hot spots and provides a dynamic range that the camera can handle without creating excessive dark shadows.

While most of the photographers that were on site were shooting from the falls side of the large log I crawled under the log and went down stream to the rocks you see in the foreground. What struck me most about the scene was the light playing on the walls of the cliff and the feeling of being in a secret canyon. My goal was to preserve the autumn feeling, and the serenity of the scene while making the falls (and its reflection) the star of the show. I used the flat rocks to create a strong foreground and actually added some leaves to the rocks to provide a color separation between the rocks and the water. I set the tripod as low as I could and still keep the reflection showing still make the viewer feel they were in the scene. The falls is purposely placed on the left fixation points (rule of thirds). I chose to keep the rocks on the far left because if I crop them it leaves the pool on the left to appear open and I lose some of the colorful leaves on that edge. I did not crop from the right edge because I liked the longer leading line of the waterway and the clarity of the rocks showing through the water. I am aware of the fairly heavy tree on the upper corner on the right but as it is dark in the end I didn’t fell it drew the eye too much. (After calling it to your attention, you probably feel it is too dominate and it should be cropped)

I used my Nikon D810, 24-70mm lens at 29mm, ISO 64, f20 and a 4 second shutter as that speed allowed for more clarity in the water and kept it from being just a white sheet. I used a polarizer to reduce the glare of the water and to saturate the colors (it made a remarkable difference) and a 3 stop GND filter tilted to about 45 degrees control the bright sunlight in the trees above the falls on the left.

In Lightroom I reduced highlights and added a great deal of contrast. I set the white balance on the falls itself. Using the radial filter I brightened the pool in the lower left corner and used a second radial filter to lighten the run of the river. As shot is was too dark for my taste. Using the adjustment brush I lighted the big log and added a bit of yellow to make it blend into the scene more tastefully. Using the HSL sliders I reduced saturation of the green channel, and increased saturation of the yellow, orange and red channels. The using the adjustment brush I added magenta to the leaves on the rocks in the foreground. (I knew I would be doing this when I took the shot) Then I sharpened everything as much as I could. I am aware that there is some motion blur in the leaves just above the falls and slightly to the right and the falls was creating its own wind and there was a quite stiff breeze close to the falls. Again, I do not feel this is too excessive and not very noticeable unless I mention it.


24 comments posted

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
I would welcome a discussion on my cropping dilemma. Should I crop out the tree in the upper right corner? and should I crop off some of the left side so that the long is not so long? Should I do one or the other or both?

Personally,I've tried it all three ways and I like this the est, but I'm open to suggestions from the experts.   Posted: 11/03/2019 17:55:15

Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
Hi Larry, great story of conceiving and executing this image. You did a great job to control the dynamic range and avoid splotchy direct sunlight--good lesson for us all. I particularly like the clarity of the calm pool of water in the foreground, seeing right through to the rocks underwater. I like the crop just the way it is.   Posted: 11/05/2019 22:38:25
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Oh good---one vote for my preferred crop. Thanks. When shooting falls and pools like this I always use a polarizer---that is what makes the clarity possible. A secondary effect is how it really enhances the colors. Controlling the dynamic range is just something I think about all the time. It is the reason I get out early when the light is not harsh. Mid day photos do not work well for me. I was looking over my favorite 12 photos from last year recently and every one of them was shot within 90 minutes of sunrise or sunset or in the dark.

Thanks for stopping by to comment.   Posted: 11/06/2019 06:11:24
Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
Larry, I was just looking at Don Crow's work in Group 47. This month he tells the story of getting his shot, and it reminded me of your stories--passionate about getting to the right place at the right time to get the shot, no matter what it takes to get there.   Posted: 11/09/2019 16:48:02

Michael Weatherford   Michael Weatherford
Perfect. Thanks for another inspiring post.   Posted: 11/07/2019 08:26:57
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks for commenting.   Posted: 11/10/2019 19:39:11

Mark Winter   Mark Winter
Larry,

I really like the composition! I may not have noticed the log on the right quite as much until you mentioned it :-). I would probably leave as is, or perhaps just use a rush and darken it a little more so that it just blends into the main area. I think that cropping on the right would take soome away from the flow of the river. I love the feeling of the photo and especially the light towards the top part of the canyon walls. Really nice!   Posted: 11/07/2019 12:05:14
Mark Winter   Mark Winter
I meant to say "brush", not "rush :-)   Posted: 11/07/2019 12:07:08
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
I gave the darkening a try when I was working on this image. If I darken it then the side starts to become a black hole and then I could just crop it off. If I crop the brightest part then the pool at the bottom left loses its boundary.
What a mess!

I'll try dimming the brightest part and see how that goes.

Thanks   Posted: 11/10/2019 19:43:38

Madhusudhan Srinivasan   Madhusudhan Srinivasan
It speaks a lot when a master creates another masterpiece and seeks suggestion to improve Larry.
On the first look, I felt the log was distracting but after reading your explanation, we can understand the while scene. I think the cropping is just right and the tree on the right doesn't get noticed unless directed to it. Worst case, I go with Mark's suggestion. Regarding image bring in the darker side, I think it sets the right mood to the frame.
To nitpick, I would probably would move to the right and try to get the full view of the falls while making the log merge with the falls to make it a V shape view.
I wonder what would have been the reaction of that professional who suggested not to click the falls in that lighting. :-) I'm sure she would have either regretted or planned to come again during that condition.   Posted: 11/09/2019 23:20:20
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks for the suggestion about moving to the right. If I did you might need a new administrator for this group--there is this drop off and I didn't like the idea of falling in. :-)

As for the other photographer---well, to each their own...   Posted: 11/10/2019 19:47:36
Madhusudhan Srinivasan   Madhusudhan Srinivasan
I rather prefer to love with this and retain the admin as-is. :-)   Posted: 11/10/2019 20:34:23

Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
Another good one. I like the log because it is part of the story on any stream bed that I have ever visited. There is always some evidence of nature being the driving force of the scene and I like that. Your filters have done their job in bringing the stream bed into the photo instead of just a flat or mirror finish on the surface. If it would have been possible I may have moved to the right just a bit for the shot. May not have worked but I would liked to have seen a little different angle to the waterfalls. Overall a great image again.   Posted: 11/10/2019 06:08:14
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
As I told Mark, moving to the right would be hazardous to my health. Somethings just can't be done. I did give it a thought however. I'm sorts of dumb light that sometimes.   Posted: 11/10/2019 19:49:34
Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
I know that feeling. When I was younger I took a lot of , shall we say adventures, that I would not dare to a my ripe old age. I like to think that that reasoning is a result of being older and wiser.
  Posted: 11/17/2019 10:21:34

Todd Grivetti   Todd Grivetti
Wow Larry! Spectacular image as always. I see your dilema with cropping. I don't see anything wrong with cropping out the trees on the right. I think it looks better. Another distracting piece and I don't know if any has mentioned is the other people just above the log on the left side (blue shirt, white hat). Cropping that out, you absolutley lose the defining edge of the left side of the image and the it definitely makes it look "cut off". I played around with the cropping tool to get this specific rendition. I honestly think keeping the trees on the right is also OK, it's just a matter of what you like.

  Posted: 11/10/2019 09:23:05
Comment Image
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Great eye Todd. I did see those people when I finished the edits. So I put the image back into Photoshop and removed them. I just posted the original and not the edited version.

Thanks for calling it to my attention. I removed the people version from my files today. I appreciate the heads up.   Posted: 11/10/2019 19:57:20
Madhusudhan Srinivasan   Madhusudhan Srinivasan
Wow! Super eye for detail. Though it is not bothering much, it is better to keep the unwanted out anyway...   Posted: 11/10/2019 20:41:44
Madhusudhan Srinivasan   Madhusudhan Srinivasan
Wow! Super eye for detail. Though it is not bothering much, it is better to keep the unwanted out anyway...   Posted: 11/11/2019 00:38:58

Bob Legg   Bob Legg
(Groups 15 & 29 & 62)
Stephen from Group 32 referred me to your group, as I had a much smaller set of water falls in my group 29. It might of been that the pro with the big tripod was trying to discourage so that she would be the only one with the great image. Probably you looked like you knew what you were doing. I agree with you Larry, cloudy or even rainy days are the best time to shoot fall waterfalls. I luv your image and yes you might have a little too much of the log, but it doesn't bother me. Maybe a few steps to the right would of put you in the middle of the river or another photog who wasn't willing to share their spot. No problem with tree on upper right. Great job.   Posted: 11/10/2019 18:17:54
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Hi Bob. Thanks for stopping by. As I mentioned to several others---moving to the right is not possible, there is a drop off and a serious hazard to my well being if I tried.

I agree with you--yes, I might have too much log, but no it does not bother me. The log sort of acts as a leading line to the falls. That is my story and I'm sticking to it!   Posted: 11/10/2019 19:53:48

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
OK
With thanks to all here is a new edit.
The big log has been dimmed (looks better I think)
The intruders with the white hat were requested to leave and have departed.

You guys are the best!   Posted: 11/10/2019 20:06:35
Comment Image
Todd Grivetti   Todd Grivetti
They were just looky-loo's anyway. Nothing like a Photobomb for a great scene.   Posted: 11/10/2019 22:23:27

Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
  Posted: 11/17/2019 10:21:36

 

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