The Roaring Waters of Great Falls

From my last post you heard about the unseasonable heavy rains we’ve been having in Maryland and the resulting over flowing waterfalls and streams in the area.

Earlier in the week I had made plans to head to Great Falls in hopes of locating a Great blue heron rookery that I’ve heard about. They’ve been known to nest on an island between Maryland and Virginia just north of the falls and June is when the babies start to fledge increasing the numbers of herons seen along the river. The idea was to work on slow exposures of fishing blue herons while they stand motionless along the water’s edge.

Little did I think, nor realize that all of the rain that had fallen the previous Sunday was just now starting to go gang-busters on the river. By circumstance I arrived the morning of when the flooding peaked at over 12 feet. As a raging river, no sign of the rocks below was seen. Huge waves that hit them splashed high in the sky with its devastating blows.

I was so excited about the event that I quickly set up for slow exposures in the early light. Needing to use only my Singh-Ray Lighter Brighter Color Combo Polarizer filter I had great fun capturing both wide perspectives with the 24-105mm lens and then tighter abstracts with the 100-400mm lens.

I even took the time to pull out the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 Super Wide Angle Lens which is currently on sale at B&H Photo. It’s a super sharp lens and amazingly affordable. Although Manual focus, the clarity is fantastic and is my go-to lens for astrophotography.

The one thing I’m missing is the capability to add a filter to it to slow down exposures. After some research, I’ve discovered that Australian company NiSi has a filter adapter for this lens. I haven’t added it to my kit yet but it’s certainly on my wish list.

It was truly a beautiful morning at the falls, and yes I did see some herons but they were flying around wondering just what the heck happened to their peaceful shorelines.

13 replies »

  1. Emily,
    I’m not a tremendous fan of slo-mo water shots but you’ve done a great job of showing what Great Falls was like during the torrent. The Washington Post had several shots of boiling waters near the falls, which I liked, but yours are more artistic. I especially like your first shot. Great Falls Park in Maryland is a great venue for photographers, including the river, rocks and the three Billy Goat Trail paths. Have you also been to Huntley Meadows, a Fairfax County park south of Alexandria, or Piscataway National Park, below Fort Washington in Maryland and across the river from Mount Vernon? Both great places for heron, osprey and other birds and creatures.
    John Jennrich
    Reston, Virginia

    • Hello John,
      Thank you very much for taking the time and leaving such a wonderful comment. I usually visit just the Maryland side of Great Falls and love to hike the Billy Goat Trail. Due to the flooding, much of the waterfront on the Maryland side was closed.

      Piscataway is one of those hidden gems that many people don’t know about. I love that place, and in particular the super accessible Osprey nest on the fishing pier. you can almost reach out and touch them.

      We offer a wildlife field shoot at Huntley Meadows so I get to visit it in the spring and fall. It really is a great place. Thank you again. Emily

  2. I love your first photo. I stopped by last Wednesday on my way home from work. The top of the rocks were showing at that time. I just had my cell phone since my camera was at Canon for servicing. Did you ever find the rookery?

    • I sure didn’t as the river trails were literally the river Jennifer. They’re supposed to be on the island in the middle of the river just above the falls. It was so surprising – let’s hope you can find them for me. 🙂

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