Falls Creek Falls • Middle Tier Mystery
I had recently been here for the first time, but had barely scratched the surface of the picture taking opportunities at this magnificent and beautiful falls. So when bnzai9 (check out his lovely shot taken a few minutes earlier when the sun was out on the trees above this section of the falls) invited me to return with him to Falls Creek Falls on an early summer morning I jumped at the opportunity to come here again. I spent all of my time on this second visit exploring some of the many informal trails (created by the many hikers and photographers who have explored here before) that go up to the middle and top tiers of the falls.
The first set of shots I took were from a few feet in front of this spot, but there was a fine mist continuously blowing off the falls that quickly built up on the front of the polarizer and prevented me from taking some of the longer exposures I wanted to experiment with using the B+W #110 ND3 1000x filter. So I moved back and up the slope not more than 8 feet to this location, which turned out to be much nicer compositionally as well as drier.
After drying the polarizer that lives on the front of my lens and setting up the shot - the B+W #110 ND3 1000x filter is so dark you have set up and focus the shot without it first - I added the ND filter and took the first exposure. On the LCD a very dark gray fog appeared where the falls should be in the image... I checked the front of the filter it was dry. Thinking perhaps it was just grossly underexposed, I upped the exposure time and tried again, this time a lighter gray fog with a few very hazy details were visible surrounded by black... it was as though someone had breathed very heavily on the front of the filter, but it was still dry. Puzzled, I removed the filter and discovered that although the front of the polarizer behind it was dry, a very fine heavy mist had condensed on the back of the ND filter!? So I dried it off, reinstalled it and took another exposure, no haze this time but still a tad underexposed. I opted to just open the aperture one stop and took another three minute exposure, only to discover that a finer less dense haze had condensed again on the back of the ND filter... but I liked the effect and so did not delete the shot right there. In Photoshop after resizing the image for posting, I added back some contrast to the darkest parts of the image using Unsharp Mask with a radius of 50, and then applied a little sharpening to the finer streams of water in the falls too.
My camera and filters live together in the same bag, I don't know why the filter which had been in the bag longer and should have been warmer than the camera and polarizer which had been out in the cooler air for 5mins was cold enough to allow this condensation happen, or why it only developed condensation on the back of the ND filter and not the front of it too... its a mystery :-)
Almost every time I go out shooting something unexpected/unplanned occurs - the blow from the waterfall forces you to find another composition, a flash goes off during your exposure, the lights from a passing car illuminate part of a night scene in a way you hadn't expected, dawn starts earlier than you wanted, a cloud goes in front of the moon, a sunny day turns cloudy, the subject moves during the exposure, two images you didn't plan to stitch together makes the best photo - and almost always they end up helping the results and teaching me something more about photography too. Therefore instead of cursing them I have come to welcome these unexpected surprises and they have become part of what I enjoy most about my exploration of photography. View large on white.
3min f8 ISO100 B+W #110 ND3 1000x Neutral Density filter plus B+W F-PRO MRC Käsemann Circular Polarizer N05121