The road twisted and turned before me, slowly rising like a crescendo. It was no time for sight seeing, I had a waterfall to get to. I had so wanted to see what I was passing by, but darkness enveloped just about everything. This was a good thing though, especially when you’re chasing the night sky. I pulled into the lonely parking lot, stretched out every limb, and then glanced up at the speckled sky. This makes my soul refill with joy.
Rewind back to about 4 hours prior to this, and I was just getting back from Home Depot when fellow photographer Jim Abels sent me a text. We spent the next hour developing a plan, and decided on Kaaterskill falls in New York. It was a 3 hour drive for me, then a 30 minute hike to get to the falls. With no flashlight on, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. Yup, that dark. The challenge then was to be able to light up the falls a bit so you could see them. I have a tough time with light painting at night. I really want to get the scene to look natural, or at least have the scene light up in an original way.
In the photo above, off to the side a very dim LED panel was used to light the tree to help bring it back to life. But with the waterfall, my options were very limited. For comparison, the photo below is more more like what a single shot looks like, unlit. We spent a few hours trying to get to a better location, and light up the falls.
Being in close proximity to such a large waterfall, there are a few things to also take into account. As the water rushes down and crashes below, it creates a cool mist and a constant cool breeze. It was a welcome feeling after working up a sweat on the hike in. The formation of this area is also shaped like a bowl, and I was half-way up it. The noise from the falls gets amplified from this shape. We tried to uniquely light the shot from different angles. Unfortunately, it was impossible to try and communicate due to the noise. Even with a few challenges, I still think this came out well.