On my one day jaunt in the north Georgia mountains, I was able to hike or drive to four or five different waterfalls. Strangely enough, my favorite waterfalls of the day were the ones that were the most easily accessible. Usually the reverse is true. To see the truly beautiful sights, I have to work a bit to get there.
This waterfall is in the Chattahoochee National Forest north of Dahlonega and just south of Suches. It is at the confluence of Dick’s Creek and Waters Creek. The Forest Service has created a nice parking area just across the road from the falls. It’s apparent that this is a popular summertime location to cool off and enjoy the view.
I have been to these falls before but didn’t come away with results that really pleased me. I took quite a bit of time shooting as many compositions of the falls as I could. I moved around very carefully because the area I was shooting from can be very slippery after a rain or when wet leaves are covering the large, flat rocks I was standing on. In fact, the last time I was here I slipped and hit the rocks quite hard. I had the bruises to prove it for a few weeks thereafter.
On that trip it had been difficult to move around the banks of the stream. Moving out to the rocks in the middle of the stream would had been ill-advised. On this trip, the rocks were much drier and actually offered a bit of traction. I carefully made my way out to a group of large rocks close to the middle of the stream. I was able to set up my tripod and crouch into a decent shooting position. The shot I had in mind is the one featured in this blog post. I wanted to put the smaller downstream cascade in the image as my foreground with the main falls as the primary focus further in the background. The late afternoon sunlight lit up the surrounding area enough to generate a bit of a reflection in the creek itself.
There was a tremendous amount of contrast in this scene. The rocks on the banks were very dark while the rushing white water was almost at the other end of the contrast scale. I took five images and blended them with Photomatix Pro’s Exposure Blending mode. There was simply no other way to preserve the shadow and highlight details of the image. The resulting blended image is very close to the conditions present that afternoon. Even though all of the trees are bare, the rhododendron that surrounds many southern streams added the color necessary to set the falls off. The copper color in the stream is generated by the sediment and rocks that lie at its bottom. It’s amazing to think that the Appalachians were once the height of today’s tallest mountains. They are beautiful, but I would have liked to have seen them before erosion took its toll.