Larry Treadwell  

Crabtree Falls in Fall by Larry Treadwell

November 2020 - Crabtree Falls in Fall

About the Image(s)


Settings: Nikon D810, 24-70mm lens @ 24mm, ISO 64, f20, 6 seconds with Polarizer and 3 stop GND filter.

Crabtree Falls, located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, was beautiful in the summer when partly shielded with a full canopy of leaves but it left me wondering what it would be like come fall when it would be dressed in its red/gold mantle. The morning was chilly and the ground wet from a heavy rain during the night that I knew would damage the condition of the fall leaves when I departed from the empty parking lot for mile plus stroll to the falls. Halfway there I came across my least favorite staircase that is steep going down but a nightmare coming back up. Upon arriving at the falls I was completely along once the fox left the hidden splash pool. I spent nearly 2 hours working the scene and found 4 compositions worth shooting on the partly cloudy morning. The falls had considerably less water than it had several months earlier so I needed a slightly long shutter speed to accumulate enough water to keep the falls interesting. By necessity I omitted the top of the falls because the grey/white sky showing through the mostly leafless trees at the exposed top of the falls would be distracting in a final image. I felt the runoff rushing over the foreground rocks would add interest and as long as the rocks remained wet from the overnight rain they would not collect glare. The 24mm lens setting allowed me to create the feeling of being in the rocks at the runoff. The use of the polarizer simply enriched the colors and improved saturation. My Breakthrough Technologies polarizer filter does not induce a color cast like so many other brands do, thus the colors you see here are nearly exactly what I saw while at the falls. The filter is expensive but occasions like are exactly the reason I bought it. Because of the overcast sky and the canopy having far fewer leaves than in the summer the light was not bright so I did not need the 6 stop ND filter that was required in the summer. I did need the 3 stop GND to keep the falls from being over exposed while I exposed for the darker foreground. Sadly there was a fair amount of wind blowing through the semi-leafless trees and thus the background leaves are not as crisp and sharp as would I wished. I should have taken two exposures (one at a faster shutter speed) and blended them in Photoshop to solve the problem. However this photo was destined for a competition and such manipulation is not allowed. About the time I finished people started arriving and they brought a light rain with them so I packed and headed back up that darn staircase.

This round’s discussion is now closed!
8 comments posted

Michael Weatherford   Michael Weatherford
Hi Larry, another masterful waterfall image. It has a softness and warmth that I really like. At first look it struck me as maybe a little too warm, but no it's just fine. I continue to be inspired by your approach to photography. Thanks!   Posted: 11/14/2020 19:54:06
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
I appreciate the comment. The warmth of the image comes the mist from the falls reflecting all the color from the fall leaves. All that mist simply multiplied the color. The stone walls all around the falls make it almost like walking into a bowl. I'll admit to a slight bump to enhance that colors of the fall leaves.   Posted: 11/19/2020 20:09:23

Jason Stewart   Jason Stewart
I see you only had to use a 6 second exposure to get that silky smooth water. im guessing the shorter exposure time helps you from blowing the highlights?
beautiful photo by the way!   Posted: 11/19/2020 19:13:24
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
I could have increased the length of the exposure to as much as 30 seconds had I wanted to. I have both a 6 stop and a 10 stop ND filter in my bag either of which would have extended the necessary exposure time. However, using either of those would have turned the flow of the water coming down the falls into pure milk. What makes the image interesting is the detail in the falls. I tried several exposures some longer and some shorter and found this to be the most interesting.',   Posted: 11/19/2020 20:15:26

Todd Grivetti   Todd Grivetti
I'm torn between your October image or November's. The colors in this image are gorgeous, but what distracts me is the cut off of the top of the falls, although you explained your rationale. Regardless, beautiful capture.

I love the light coming down from right side adding a sense of shadowing with the wet rock and the added foliage on the right. The yellow leaves blending into the orange is a beautiful transition of colors. I really like the warmness of the foreground with the soft water. A beautiful sense of calm!

  Posted: 11/21/2020 09:16:20
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
I hated cutting off the top of the falls, but the alternative would have looked so much worse. There just was no other way to photograph the mass of the falls. I could have taken shots of parts of the falls but I felt that would have looked quite odd.

Oh well. I just have to find another falls.... :-)   Posted: 11/28/2020 15:08:45

Ian Chantler   Ian Chantler
(Groups 4 & 31)
Hi Larry
Another masterclass in landscape photography wonderful movement beautiful autumn colours and so love the dappled light.   Posted: 11/28/2020 14:29:28
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks for commenting. The falls is quite majestic in its fall colors.   Posted: 11/28/2020 15:09:38