One of my favorite sayings is Louis Pasteur’s “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” Or to paraphrase, Luck favors the prepared.
In Bellingham, Wash., there is a park called Maritime Heritage Park and through this park runs Whatcom Creek.
A few days ago I had to pick up a set of prints for a client from the post office and decided to see the colors by the creek. There is a set of stairs that goes down to a trail which parallels the creek.
As I didn’t have to pick my wife up from work, I had a little bit of time to shoot. It’s nice to have this time with the light being nice.
I was hoping of re-shooting I shot earlier this year, but this time with all the autumnal colors. From the bridge, the creak rushes from out under two very large oak trees. I was envisioning the colorful trees with velvety smooth flowing water.
So I grabbed my cameras (Nikon D300s and D200), 17-35 f/2.8, my ND64 filter (increases exposure by 6 stops), and cheapo tripod. Yes, cheapo. As in it’s old, is saltwater corroded, but still works. Sweetpea, I need a new one and Christmas is coming.
Much to my disappointment, the trees lost all their lower leaves. The vision of the colorful trees and the rushing creek I had in my head vanished like smoke in the wind. But, that didn’t stop me.
The colors along the creek were wonderful so I just started to shoot. The falls were not as high as they would be in spring due to snow melt, but, after about a week of rain, the creek was running pretty good over them.
As the trail was about 20 feet over the creek, I placed my 80-200 onto my D300s, used the lens’ collar to mount it to the tripod, then attached the ND64 filter. My shutter was 4 seconds with an aperture of f/11. I also used a 2 second self-timer so help eliminate any camera shake.
I began above the falls and shot looking downstream. As the stream headed in a westerly direction and it being late afternoon, the trees were backlit so the colors were a little bit more vibrant.
So I shot a few frames with various compositions for a few minutes. Then I moved onto where you could see the falls better. The angle was nice as you had a direct view of the falls. I kept the telephoto on as I was still a bit from the falls. An 80mm was good coverage.
I noticed a lone leaf on a branch and wanted to shoot it with the fall in the background. But to do this meant me climbing the hillside next to the trail to get a higher vantage point.
So I climbed with my gear about 20 feet up the hill, set the tripod and shot a few frames. I opened the aperture up to get less depth of field and began shooting.
To get the depth of field I wanted, I closed down and used the aperture preview button to see how it would look in the photo. A little used button by many photographers, but a nice tool to have.
As I was shooting, from the corner of my eye I saw a large grey blog float low over the water. After shooting the leaf and falls, I climbed back down.
When I went to the railing, I saw the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) perched on a rock in the midst of the falls. I quickly set up my tripod and zoomed in a little bit to get just it and the falls.
I shot a few frames but they were blurry. I even opened up to get a faster shutter, but it wasn’t fast enough. Regardless, I like the photo as it has a ghostly, ethereal feel to it.
I watched as the heron moved down the creek and stopped directly below me. So I began shooting again. One of the things I noticed is that it stays very still while hunting for fish.
It didn’t seems to mind me as it fished. I was quiet, yet moved with purpose. It seemed to work as the bird continued to ignore me.
So I decreased my aperture to f/11 and set my shutter back to 4 seconds and tried a few photos. And a few frames in, the bird stood still long enough it was sharp with all the movement around it.
After getting a few frames, the bird was frightened off by some passers-by.
The good this is, I got a few sharp shots with the movement of the water is the frame. After I got home, I imported the photos and saw the one sharp photo that was shot at 4 seconds and was amazed. I zoomed in on its head and was amazed how it stood so still for those 4 seconds.
What a fun little outing.
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Thank you for stopping by and reading. All comments are appreciated.
Paul “pablo” Conrad