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Berry Creek Falls, Big Basin State Park

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 26 February 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


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A treasure trove of photographic possibilities await photographers visiting Big Basin State Park northeast of Santa Cruz, California. I made my first visit on Monday following a all-day rainstorm Sunday and I was treated to not only beautiful lush surroundings, which reminded me more of a tropical rain forest, but also bountiful waterfalls including Berry Creek Falls.

My companions on this 4-mile walk to the falls were Aminus3 members Tracy Hagen and Scott Schilling. Tracy had peaked my interest in photographing this falls with her post a few weeks back Tracy's Berry Creek Falls Image. She led Scott and I along a incredible trail that yielded images of crepuscular rays bursting through rising mist (I should post an image soon) and eventually down to the falls.

Because we had a clear-sky day, I was concerned with sun splotching on the falls. We did indeed get a bit of sun, but the trade-off was this incredible mist bow across the entire span of the falls. The hard light did make it difficult to photograph the entire falls (approximately 40 feet in length), but there is no rule that says waterfalls must be shot top to bottom unless one is trying for a literal capture.

In my opinion, I believe that isolating a portion of the falls, as I did with this image, reveals more of the beauty of the sensuous lines created by utilizing a slower shutter speed. The mist bow was the accent that brought this image to life. I did do a bit of burning along the bottom edge of the white water to hold the eye in the frame. There are many ways to burn-down an image in Photoshop, but I simply opted to create a Duplicate Layer, then utilized CS4's burn tool at 16% opacity and set it for Highlights, and used a soft-edged brush. I worked for years in a black-and-white darkroom, and was taught by mentors to make one's dodges and burns appear natural to the eye.

It was a fun day, but we had to really scramble on our way out (I hope Scott and Tracy aren't too mad at me) as I had an early-evening appointment I couldn't miss. There was so much to photograph, that I will most certainly return to this incredibly beautiful park in the near future.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 5/2 seconds F/22.0 ISO 100 78 mm

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