Into the Abyss

Posted by Don Smith (California, United States) on 27 May 2009 in Landscape & Rural.

Most tourists come to Yosemite Valley in the spring to witness the power and drama of the area's well-known waterfalls, namely Yosemite and Bridalveil Falls. There are also a myriad of seasonal falls such as Ribbon, Horsetail, Sentinel, and Cascade to name a few.

Perhaps for me, the one waterfall that catches my attention the most due to its sheer power is Nevada Fall along the Merced River. This 594-foot fall is located along the western end of Little Yosemite Valley next to Liberty Cap. Nevada is an old Spanish word meaning "snowy" which describes the turbulent whitewater appearance at mid fall which in turn creates a great deal of mist. This mist also allows for vibrant rainbows which I will post later this week.

It was important for me with this image to convey the immense sense of power I felt standing at the top of this waterfall. I used my Singh-Ray 8-stop variable neutral density filter at -6 to allow for a 1/1.7 second shutter. This slower shutter speed in turn produced what I felt was the right amount of motion in the water. This filter is worth its weight in gold for sunny day photography where slow shutter speeds are needed. At best, a polarizer will give you two stops to play with - not nearly enough to properly drag the shutter. Hopefully you get a sense of what it feels like to stand near the top (or even your last few seconds before going over) this incredibly powerful (and dangerous) waterfall!

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Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III
3/5 seconds
ISO 100
21 mm


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