Did you know the North Cascades was so named after its numerous cascading waterfalls, including Rainbow Falls, pictured here, located within the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area portion of the North Cascades National Park Complex? This two-tiered waterfall is a total of 390 feet tall and is one of those must-sees whenever one visits the small community of Stehekin, located about 5 miles, give or take, from the waterfall.
You can learn more North Cascades trivia, and also test your North Cascades knowledge with the latest quiz and trivia piece I penned for the National Parks Traveler.
To take the quiz and learn more about the North Cascades National Park Complex, just click on the image above.
It’s #WaterfallWednesday ! So here’s a bevvy of waterfalls, and if you click on each photo, you’ll read an interesting fact or two about each.
This image was captured during a winter in Zion National Park, in Utah, so the water is more of a trickle or a track, indicating it’s falling down the side of a hanging valley. According to the placard I read: “Side valleys began to form at the same time as the Virgin River Canyon. But, the main stream downcut faster than its tributaries, leaving them hanging high above the canyon floor. The mouths of hanging valleys are a likely place to look for waterfalls; they also indicate the river’s former level – a measure of the stream’s carving power.”
This image was captured after a bit of a sweaty trek for me, carrying a heavy camera pack (as per usual) and a heavy tripod, working hard to match the pace of my two new friends who insisted I hike with them to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone National Park, because of a bear frequenting the area. I enjoyed the hike more than the falls itself, because I had a pleasant time visiting with the very nice couple.
According to the NPS site page for this park: “Fairy Falls, 200 feet (61 m) high, is one of Yellowstone’s most spectacular waterfalls. From the trailhead, walk 1.6 miles (2.6 km) through a young lodgepole pine forest to the falls. You can continue 0.6 miles (0.97 km) to Spray and Imperial geysers, which adds 1.2 miles (1.9 km) to the hike.” I was too pooped to hike to the geysers, so I and the couple turned around after a short looksee at the falls. I saw that waterfall in October, so the falls wasn’t as “spectacular” in terms of water volume as it probably is during the late spring and early summer.
A waterfall that I *did* think was pretty spectacular was Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. There is a large parking lot for this next-to-the-road sight with several different vantage points you can walk to along a nice, wide, paved trail. If this is what the waterfall looked like during the autumn, I can only image how powerful it must look during times when the water volume is higher.
According to author Lee H. Whittlesey in his book Yellowstone Place Names: “Gibbon Falls is believed to drop over part of the wall of the Yellowstone Caldera, which is thought to be 640,000 years old.”
Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park, is reached via a very popular, less-than-2-mile hike on a trail that starts behind Storm King Ranger Station, a hop-and-a-skip from Lake Crescent Lodge. This long, narrow waterfall seemingly nestled within a bed of green ferns reminds me of a whiskey bottle, with a long, tall neck and a shorter, fuller, bottom. To get there, you cross a couple of neat log bridges then handle some steep stairs up to two different viewing areas.
If you ever have the opportunity to spend a few days in the remote community of Stehekin, Washington, located at the head of Lake Chelan in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, then take a hike (after visiting the Stehekin Bakery) or take a bus ride to popular Rainbow Falls. The waterfall cascades 312 feet down to Rainbow Creek, and there are a couple of vantage points from which to view this misty falls – near the bottom of the falls and a short hike toward the middle portion of the falls. It’s one of the most popular stops for day trippers to Stehekin (aside from the bakery, that is) 😉
Courtesy of the little waterfall at Sunbeam Creek, just off the Stevens Canyon Road heading up toward Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park. As you can see, it’s good to return to the same scene during different seasons to photograph the changes. The first image was captured in July, which is analogous to spring in the upper elevations (hence the healthy water flow). The second image was captured in September. The summer might have been hot, resulting in less flow, and/or the high elevation from whence this creek originates might aleady have been freezing over. True summer, with warm, sunny weather, doesn’t often last very long in the mountains.
It’s Waterfall Wednesday! I took a quick look through all the photos I’ve posted and I didn’t see this one listed, so here it is. If I missed it and have posted it before, my apologies. I just lose track, sometimes.
Anyway, this is Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone has plenty of beautiful, photogenic falls, reached either by view area right off the road, or via a hike along a trail. Gibbon Falls has its own large parking lot and view areas (yes, multiple spots to view different angles of this beautiful waterfall).
Waterfalls make great subjects for silky water shots, you know. Yes, some people like their water to “look like water”, as one fan told me, but others like that dream quality of smooth, silky water that a slow shutter speed gives you. The key to getting a shot like this, where the lighting for the composition is good and the highlights in the waterfall are not too very blown out (overexposed) is to use a tripod (required, really) and a neutral density (ND) filter. ND filters come in verying sizes, shades (densities) and prices. Some of the fancier (and super-expensive) ones, like the Singh-Ray brand, can be adjusted to various densities of darkness with a twist of the outer filter ring. The darkness of the filter allows you to use really slow shutter speeds while still capturing a well-exposed image. If you don’t have a ND filter (and every SLR photographer should have that filter in their gearbag), a circular polarizer (CPL) can do a decent job, too. To be honest, I can’t remember if I used a CPL or a ND filter for this shot. If you have both filters in your camera gear arsenal, then try experimenting with each one to see which result you like best.
I also shot at a focal length that would allow for a decent cutoff of the trees at the bottom of the shot. Taking your compositional details into consideration (rather than just getting a grab shot), can mean the difference between a good image and a great image. Think of it as akin to trying to figure out where to (figuratively) chop off the arms and legs of someone you are photographing. Sometimes you just don’t have enough room to get everything in your shot, so you need to make that cutoff somewhere. Rule of thumb on that is to NOT crop off at the joints so it doesn’t look like they’ve been amputated.
And that concludes our photo lesson for Wednesday, folks. You are halfway through the week!
Mornin’, Folks! It’s Sunrise Sunday! And, it’s even sunny where I live (it’s been gray and dreary this past week). I haven’t posted much in the past few days because I’ve been busy with family things and working on another article for the National Parks Traveler.
I thought I’d sit down and go through Yellowstone images I hadn’t worked on yet, and found this lovely sunrise image of the Lower Yellowstone Falls. I have a thing for waterfalls, I guess, and this place is magical in the autumn, on cold, crisp, clear days. It wasn’t until later that I realized there were more observation points than I’d first thought, and I never got to see them during my 2019 stay there. Next time I visit this national park, you can bet I’ll be going to the places I missed.
It’s #waterfallwednesday ! So here’s a photo of a lovely, tall waterfall on an overcast autumn day, the trail of which nearly killed me to get to. Ok, I’m exaggerating. The trail to this tall waterfall is easy and well-maintained. I was just (as usual) lugging along a pack full of camera gear and a heavy tripod. I’d just finished photographing Grand Prismatic from that new overlook and was hiking onward toward Fairy Falls. Having never been there before, I didn’t have any idea (because I hadn’t done my homework) and checked to see how far it was from the overlook. As I was hiking down from the overlook, this very nice couple looked back at me and asked if I was continuing on toward the falls. I said I was and they invited me to hike with them because they didn’t feel right about me hiking alone, with a bear frequenting the area. So, I did, blithely hiking at or around their pace (I think they slowed down a little for me – both were veteran hikers). We had a lovely time talking and we finally got to the trailhead for the falls, itself, and the mileage was 1.6 one way. My brain hesitated but my legs did not. Had I been alone, I might not have hiked even that relatively short distance with all the stuff I was hefting with me, but I was enjoying my visit with this nice couple, so I kept on with them. You know, it’s always such a reward to see whatever sight it is at one’s end destination, when you are pooped and sweating and think the damned trail is never going to end 😆
Old Faithful during a summer sunrise, Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful during a chilly, autumn sunrise, Yellowstone National Park
The lower falls of the Yellowstone River on an overcast, snowy day, Yellowstone National Park
The lower falls of the Yellowstone River during a freezing autumn sunrise, Yellowstone National Park
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll re-mention it in this post. It’s a great idea to take your camera and revisit a favorite site of yours during different seasons, times of day, and weather conditions. You’ll be surprised at how different your composition can look.
It’s Waterfall Wednesday! So here’s a photo I took during my recent trip to Olympic National Park. It’s Marymere Falls, an easy .7-mile (one-way) hike on a well-trafficked trail behind the Storm King Ranger Station just a hop and a skip from Lake Crescent Lodge.
I talk about photographing Marymere Falls as well as Sol Duc Falls in my next installment of the Armchair Photography Guide for Olympic National Park, to be published Oct 1st in the National Parks Traveler site, so be on the lookout for Part 2 – The Forests. I mention this now because I’ll be in Yellowstone National Park at that time and don’t know what kind of internet service I’ll have around there.
In the meantime, this shot, taken at the upper level of the overlook, demonstrates the “silky water” technique and making use of the surrounding ferns for natural framing around the photo subject.
The waterfall at Falls Creek, Mount Rainier National Park
Whenever I enter Mount Rainier National Park via the Stevens Canyon entrance, I always stop at the Falls Creek pullout to photograph this waterfall. Depending upon the time of the year, it can be at full throttle, or a mere trickle. I also love photographing this waterfall because of the play of light and shadow, and the many shades of green. Plus, it’s good exercise for me in getting in a few “silky water” shots. During this particular instance, it was also good practice working with my new medium format Pentax 645z.
My final installment (Part 4) of the Armchair Photography Guide to Mount Rainier National Park has been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. Click on the photo to be taken to the site if you want to check out the article (and read Parts 1 – 3, if you haven’t already done so). 😉
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