This is Azaka Falls here in Okinawa. They're very easy to get too, but I really struggled on how to compose this area. The hanging roots with the water flowing through them intrigued me, and I tried some closeups focused on just that spot. They were alright and may post them again, but in the end I felt the wider look gave it more depth and sense of what was going on there. I decided to go B&W because of those roots. I think it gives it a more moody feel than what color can do.
I shot and processed this hoping to capture a scene that evoked a far flung waterfall that was newly discovered. Did I succeed?
BTW: this wasn't too hard to get too, but it did require a river hike for about 25 minutes.
Two days ago I posted a long article and photo from a trip my wife and I made to Todoroki Falls here in Okinawa. The photo was targeted and focused on how this fern existed in relation to this incredible waterfall. I crafted the photo to tell the story I wanted by darkening the scene (despite the fact it was 10am in the morning) and adding a touch of light to highlight the plant. Today's photo is basically the opposite technique, where with a wide angle lens, I'm capturing the whole scene. It's still a long exposure to get the silky effect on the water but here you can see much more of what's going on. You may ask, which one do I prefer; well it's the targeted one. Most of the time, I prefer that style but it doesn't mean you can't venture into other perspectives as well. I went ahead and converted to black and white, but look real close with my telltale dash of color left behind. Enjoy.
Early this morning my wife and I headed out to Todoroki Falls. I wanted to check out some waterfalls because we have had a lot of rain lately. With all this rain, I reckoned the waterfalls would be at their full run. I wasn't disappointed! I picked these falls today because they are easily accesible (relatively, more on that later). There is a parking lot, a walking trail to get there, and it's only about 2 minutes away from parking. There is one or two problems... you have to climb over some very large rocks, using a rope, to access the area where you can view the falls. Second problem was the rocks were incredibly slick. It would've been easier to walk on a tile floor with Crisco smeared all over it. I've been to this location before, and the rocks were slick, but they were at a new level of danger today. Despite these obstacles my wife and I got into the location and I started shooting. The falls were going at full blast, in fact my wife and I had trouble talking to each other even standing next to each other they were so loud. I included a video to show the power and noise that was evident today.
Today was the first time I came back from a shoot with my new camera and was disappointed with the results. I came home and imported the photos into Lighroom and started taking a close look at them and noticed they were all fairly soft. Since I started using this camera, the one thing I could count on was NOT getting soft images. They are almost always very sharp. I've been trying to figure out why... it could be that I had to place the tripod on rocks that were very slick and there could've been some movement because of that. I'm not sure; I'll be keeping an eye on it for the next sessions to see if this was a unique situation. I overcame this problem with some creative processing.
Speaking of processing, this is another example of popping my flash during a long exposure. I used my Neutral Density filter to darken the scene, then during the 2 1/2 second exposure I manually popped my flash from the left of the plant to give it some light and have it stand-out. I did my basic workflow in Lightroom and then brought it into my go to Plug-in lately, Perfect Effects 4. Gave it a bit of a glow, darkened certain areas and then brought it back to Lightroom.
I've been anxious to post this photo that I finished editing a couple days ago.
I am really happy with how it turned out. I had this in my editing queue for a couple months because I liked it but wasn't sure how to make it good enough to meet my standards for putting on the website. I've been experimenting with a technique I am calling the "Not Quite" style where I edit the photo in color, then in B&W and slightly bring back a hint of color by slightly reducing the opacity of the B&W layer. In other words it's not quite color, yet not quite B&W. I'm by no means saying this is anything new, but it's something I'm experimenting with for some photos. In this particular photo I vignetted it heavily to go along with the tunnel effect created by the 8-15mm Fisheye lens I used to take this shot.
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Continuing with photos from yesterday's trip to Taa Falls and Azaka Falls. Today's is of Taa Falls. I tried to get some different perspectives of these falls vs. just the straight on type (I did take plenty of the straight on type as well). I had to wade across the shallow river and walk around to the side. I was battling the water spray getting on my lens constantly and was not winning. This photo has some photoshop work to get the water spray out of the photo. This is an HDR; it's the only way to capture this much contrast in the scene. The waterfall pool area is fairly dark, yet I wanted to get the blue sky with the clouds as well. I didn't tonemap it in the HDR program, just combined them into a 32bit image and did the processing work in Lightroom, with some Photoshop as stated before.
Canon 7D with Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 (wet) lens on Tripod balanced on one rock with two legs in the water. 3 bracketed photos at 2 stops each combined into a 32bit HDR image in Photomatix Pro; then worked on in Lightroom. Photoshop used to remove some water spray from the lens and bring out some detail.
Actually we went to two waterfalls today. The first one is called Taa Falls and requires some river trekking (about 25 minutes worth), which will resulted in getting our feet wet. Once you get there, you turn this corner and this 80 foot high rush of water is right there. It is a beautiful site and I spent about 1 1/2 hours there taking photographs. After returning to the car, we went to to another falls that was just down the road. This one was just off the road and accessible via a walking path. It was very different in that it wasn't a hard drop, but it was a cascading falls that went up about 150 feet at its zenith. These falls are called Azaka Falls and the photo today is from there. There are some old banyan tree roots hanging over the side of the mountain and are integrated into the falls. After seeing this I was thinking how creepy they looked and decided to go B&W for this one. There are many more falls to see here on this little island; more to come.
A couple days ago I posted a photo from Fukugawa Falls #2, which required a long hike/bouldering through a river to get back to a second waterfall. Today I am showing the main falls which has an established trail and is much easier to get too.
Went on an adventure today with some fellow photographers. We visited Fukugawa Falls here in Okinawa. Getting to the main falls wasn't the adventure though; that was just the start. The main falls are about a 10 minute hike on an established trail from the parking area. While these falls are impressive and a good photo op; the mission today was to hike back to falls #2, which did not have an established trail and required climbing the slippery rocks along and in the river for about 45-60 minutes. Both falls are impressive and I got some great photos of each, along with some other types of small falls along the way. In addition to the photos, I really enjoyed the company of David, Chris, Sean, Jonathan (David's son) and of course Bear (Chris' Lab) and getting to know these other guys much better.
I also want to thank my friend Michael, who wasn't able to make it today, for lending me the 8-15mm Fisheye that was used for this photo.
I'll be posting some more photos from this hike today over the next couple days so stay tuned for more.
Where did I take this photo? Did I trudge through miles of trails and risk life and limb and thousands of $$$ in photo gear to "get the shot"?
I think all of you already know the answer, but this is the point of today's Photo Lesson. You don't need to spends thousands traveling to exotic locations or plan an all day hiking trip to get great photos. Find places around you and compose for mystery. Search for framing that doesn't include the 100 people/tourists milling about, be patient and wait for an opportunity to get a clean shot, and walk around and find different angles so those who view your photo have some mystery on how and where you "got the shot". Don't get me wrong, there is value in traveling and going to the isolated locations for great photographic opportunities, but its not the ONLY time to be active with your camera. See my previous lesson on looking for different angles at the post titled, "It's a Matter of Perspective (Composition)". Now on to the backstory of the above photo.
The Narita-san Shinshoji Temple complex is quite vast and varied. One could spend all day just wondering around and taking photos of the beautiful grounds. On the day I was there, I only had a few hours so I walked quickly and tried to capture some interesting areas. I featured a photo from this location on January 13th on my post titled, "New Year's Prayers on a Pole". This photo of the waterfall was a bit of a challenge. I didn't bring my tripod and in order to get the silky flow of the water, I needed to have a slow shutter speed, which means I need to be very steady to keep the whole photo from going blurry. I did this by pushing my camera up against the rocks as a steadying device. A little secret of this photo is that if I didn't tell you it was at a massive tourist attraction, you couldn't tell if this taken after some long and arduos hike into the back woods somewhere. I call it Compositional Mystery. You see a lot of that from me in my landscapes and seascapes. You see a grand vista, but don't realize 10 meters behind me there is a major highway or resort or some other type of encroachment of civilization. Below I am including another photo from the same location but a different viewpoint without the Compositional Mystery. Still a good photo, well composed and interesting, but there is less mystery as to where I took it.
One of the main points I am trying to get across with this and the previous lesson is to take your time around an area. Yes, it wil irritate your non-photographer spouse, children, friends etc, but it is worth it to spend just a little more time looking for the right composition vs. just showing up to great location, stop where everyone else is stopping, snap off a photo and move on.