Rocks, water and moss.

Small cascades with moss-laden rocks.
Small cascades with moss-laden rocks.


The Smoky Mountains offer a fine choice of rivers and streams for photographing water features.  I was fortunate enough to spend time in the company of Andrew Lerman this past week receiving excellent photo instruction on composition, lighting, processing and creating photos I’d be proud to hang on my walls.

This is one such image.  Taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 lens, a 1/4 second exposure at f/18 and ISO 100 slows down the water nicely to highlight the flow.  Use of a polarizing filter enhances the colours of the moss.  Mild enhancements in Lightroom 5.4.

The compression of the image where the distance between background and foreground images seems to be shorter than it actually is, is a function of using a telephoto lens (in this case at around 90mm) – in reality this shot was taken several feet back from the subject.  Andy was careful to point out that the positioning of the camera in terms of distance and height it essential in composition such that I didn’t introduce some odd effects (you don’t get to see my mistakes).

Andy, as an accomplished photographer, is careful in taking his shots – he may spend a significant period lining up a shot, going through scenarios and different points of view but then his shot, when he takes it is generally the shot he wants.  One thing he’s taught me over the past couple of years of mentoring is to be more selective in choosing the scene and the composition; the result of which is I now take generally less than 50 shots a day compared to the hundreds before with 2-5 pleasing images the final outcome.

Roaring Fork waterfall
Rock stream

This image, taken with a wide angle lens relatively close-up was taken at 1/8th, f/22, ISO 100 and at 22mm focal length.  It involved getting into the stream (with boots on) and getting closer to the subject.

Place of a Thousand Drips
Place of a Thousand Drips

This image, taken at 200mm, f/13, 1/8th and ISO 100 is a small section of a much larger scene.

Le Conte Creek with snow
Le Conte Creek with snow

Finally, Le Conte creek, part of the trek up to Rainbow Falls (off the Roaring Fork Motor Trail).  We walked up here with snow on the ground (mid-April) and saw this scene worthy of a shot.

In all these images, Andy emphasised understanding and knowing how the lens hyper-focal distance matters.  In my next post, I’ll show images with focus stacking, another technique Andy introduced me to.













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