I grunted as I slung my fully laden camera bag on to my back for the first time in months and set off in my new hiking boots and waterproof trousers (an upgrade to the skinny jeans and Harley Davidson boots I’d been wearing every previous year). I set off along the path that leads to Toormakeady Waterfall in the twilight and as I gazed into the crepuscular gloom I wished I’d thought to take the torch out of the bag.
Luckily I’d set off from my house earlier than I had planned because Google Maps sent me to the wrong spot. It was only when I wound up in the middle of nowhere that I remembered that it had done the exact same when I’d gone to recce the waterfall during the summer. A lesson to not blindly trust the app and to check where it’s actually sending me.
I hadn’t a particular plan for capturing the waterfall other than to make it a long exposure shot. With the sun not having risen and a 10-stop ND filter on the lens I was getting exposures of nearly 7 minutes. I had less than an hour before sun rise and between adjusting the composition, setting the camera, waiting for the exposure, reviewing the preview and tweaking the settings there wasn’t time to get very many photographs. The sun was just catching the top of the trees when I finally realised how to avoid the low hanging branches that were making my compositions untidy – by stepping beyond them and standing in the water.
Luckily there was a small island of pebbles big enough for me and my tripod and it wasn’t too difficult to climb out of the river to get things from my camera bag.
By this time the sunlight was completely blowing out the top half of my photographs and I was down to a 30 second exposure. I changed my composition to get rid of as much sky as possible but I thought I’d been too late figuring out the best place to stand.
Stood this close to the waterfall the spray was coating my glasses in a fine mist and was doing the same to my camera. With each exposure I could see more and more blooming. I was trying to clear off the moisture from the filter with a lens cloth when I thought about using the blooming to my advantage to create a softer look. So I had the idea of how to process the image before I’d even captured it. I had only enough time to capture maybe another two exposures before the sunlight called an end to proceedings. The image above is one of the last shots that I managed to get.
The walk back to the car was a totally different experience now that the sun had risen and my path was a warm scene of Autumnal colours.