I went waterfall hunting last week. This is not so easy to do in Louisiana, where we’re known more for our swamps and bayous than our waterfalls. But just a few miles north of St. Francisville, La., in the southwestern tip of Mississippi, the Clark Creek Natural Area, also known as Tunica Falls, has a few dozen of them, hidden away in a wild, remote 700-acre parcel.
This was intended to be a photo expedition, so I loaded a daypack with camera, three lenses and my Leitz Tiltall tripod, along with some food and plenty of water. It’s about a 2 ½ hour drive from my home and the weather was perfect, unusual for here: dry and clear with low humidity. Wow!
Clark Creek is a modest little stream that runs through this surprisingly hilly area, tucked in just a few miles east of the Mississippi River. The hills are quite steep and the terrain covered with a beautiful mixed deciduous forest. When I arrived, there were only two other cars in the small parking area. I paid my $3 fee and headed down the main trail in search of my first waterfall.
It was about a mile down the trail to the first one. Here the creek splashes over a sandstone and hard clay dropoff, descending at least 25 feet to a small pool below. I got to work immediately, finding the mix of water and new spring foliage worked well together.
And so quiet! Mostly because it was midweek, I seemed to have this place all to myself.
Working with moving water, one of your big considerations is always shutter speed: what’s the right shutter speed to use? I tend to experiment with this, sorting through some ‘best guesses,’ chimping with my camera till I like the shutter/aperture combination that’s giving me the most magical results. Lots of the shutter speeds that worked best on this day were long: some as much as 5 to 8 seconds, due to the relatively slow and weak water flow.
I worked around this first waterfall for about 30 minutes, trying different angles and perspectives. It’s such an intuitive process: problem solving, trying to slow way, way down and really see. Sometimes this is easier than others. Achieving it after a 2 ½ hour car ride was a challenge, but the beauty around me did the trick. I was probably grinning like a fool from ear to ear—such a truly beautiful spot!
More waterfalls, more quiet. I never did encounter anyone from the other two cars, having a solitary and tranquil afternoon of shooting. Many of the photographs I ended up with weren’t from the water at all—other things in the woods that spoke to me on this day.
Next time, I plan to go much earlier and make a full day of it. This is a new favorite place!
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog
Related articles on the web:
Exploring Pedernales Falls at Serious Amateur Photography
Fall Water at Epic Edits
How to Get Dreamy Water Look on Your Photos at Digital Photography Student