Great Falls Park
Woods of Great Falls Park
When setting up this shot I had a lot of concerns about the sky at the top of the photograph. The light on trunks was beautiful, but the sky was pulling my eyes away from what I wanted to capture. The solution was to sacrifice half of the film area, in order to capture what is important.
Great Falls. First Overlook
I seriously thought that I completely busted this frame, when committed a stupid mistake and did not set up the lens to the metered f/22 at 1/15 of a second. Instead, I exposed it at f/32 for 1 second, giving it 3 stops of light more than needed. It was my last frame on the roll, and I thought that a park ranger would run over on my upset howling on the overlook. The software struggled with the colors, of course, and I had to scan the negative as a slide and manually invert it in Photoshop. Damn, I need to be more careful! It was a close call!
Calm of Difficult Run
There is a special kind of photographs that I enjoy a lot. These landscapes do not have jaw-dropping colors or epic light. They do not compete with other images for attention or admiration on social media. But not being so intrusive and attention-demanding means that I'm not getting tired from them for a very long time. These are the images that make fine wall art, which does not overpower its environment and complement the place. I think that this photograph of Difficult Run could fit this description. I like the overall composition and the perspective, the soft light in the foreground, and two warm tones of yellow in the leaf and the sunlit forest in the background.
Over and Around
A story-telling component plays a significant role in my photography. But sometimes the scene is so simple and almost abstract, that I have no thoughts on the subject other than thinking that it is graphically pretty. This composition, probably, falls into this category. I came across it on my walk along Difficult Run in Great Falls National Park. The shape of the rock, and water, flowing over and around it, caught my attention. Working on these subjects is a somewhat relaxing process. Nothing is moving or going away, so you can relax, work on the composition, meter the light, and carefully think about the camera settings. I managed to achieve everything I wanted: a pleasant framing, delicate sharpness of the rock, and proper shutter speed to convey the flowing of the water. The only thing that I missed was to rotate the film back on my camera, and instead of capturing this vertical composition, I made an exposure in landscape orientation. Genius! So I had to spend one more frame to correct that mistake. Later that day, when I scanned the negatives, I discovered that the first composition also has its merits. Maybe I will release that accidental version as well, but not today.
View on Potomac from Cow's Hoof Rock
I photographed this view several years ago. The result was not bad, but since then, I developed new skills, changed the equipment, and refined my taste for composition. A couple of things that bothered me in my older work made me return here again and attempt to address them. Kodak Ektar offered a very pleasing palette to work with, and four seconds of exposure smoothed rough water, creating attractive lines and wrinkles. I like that the flow of the water aligns with the direction of the light coming from the sun. The tree, which I saw as an obstacle earlier, now seems appropriate here: there are no open views on the river from these rocks, and its presence makes the photograph more realistic. I also liked to find an unusual amount of coincidences in the scene. The tree itself grows under an angle that makes it parallel to the right wall of the river gorge, while one of its branches goes over the top edge of the left cliffs. There are more of these details, but the important thing is that I managed to work around one major distraction. Those who are familiar with the place know that there should be a paved road descending to a boat launch area almost in the middle of the scene. Right there, on the left bank, where stone walls form a gap. It took me a lot of work to find a perfect angle that hides that spot and balance the entire composition.
Iced Pool and Winter Forest
Working on this photograph was a challenge. I remember that grey morning and my uncertainty about capturing anything interesting in these conditions. But often the best way to learn is to try, especially when it comes to film photography. Add a discovery of a small pool with frozen water by a series of little cascades, and making an exposure became inevitable. My idea worked well: I wanted to juxtapose textured rocks and ice in the foreground to the winter forest in the distance. The white water of the stream served as a boundary that separates two parts of the image, presenting their subjects on different scales. I like an intimate feel of the foreground with its details, and the delicate network of branches in the background, that can be appreciated only from a distance. The negative, though, came out a bit flat, and I was not sure if it holds the qualities I wanted. It took me a few days of thinking and several attempts to interpret the scene. I'm glad that I did not give up.
Great Falls in Winter Light
This view is familiar to all who visited Great Falls Park and stopped at the third overlook. But few ever witnessed this place in such a beautiful light. During the winter, the sun rises further to the South, illuminating the rocks under a rather low angle, emphasizing their shapes and adding dimensional quality to the scene.