We left NC Friday morning, got to Chicago in plenty of time for our connection to Dusseldorf but the mechanics were still working on our plane for an hour and a half past when we were supposed to take off. They were unable to make up ANY time in the air so our 2 hour lay-over in Dusseldorf was insufficient and they ended up having to hold the plane and escorting us across the airport. We made it to Copenhagen in time to catch our cruise but our 10 pieces of luggage did not. Before you start questioning my sanity bringing 10 pieces of luggage on a trip, let me tell you there were 10 of us on this trip. In that light, it doesn't sound so bad.
Fortunately, we were smart enough to pack the kids' bathing suits in our carry on bags so once we were on the boat, they were happy as clams.
Several months ago, Taylor Swift tickets went on sale. It was truly impossible to get legitimate tickets since they have killed the scalping laws. Ticket brokers buy as many as they can and then mark them up with "processing fees" of up to $150 a piece. The internet has made it nearly impossible for normal people to purchase tickets directly from the venue or even through Ticket Master. Mind you, I don't like Ticket Master but at least they are upfront about their fees. I ended up on some site that I really should have checked out better. They didn't show the fees until you had already scrolled down and the fees were shown at the top of the page. I tried to fight it but even with AmEx I was stuck. So we made the best of it. I didn't tell the girls we had gotten tickets. Since the show was the day after the last day of school, we decided to give it to them as a "last day of school" present. In my mind, they would read the paper, realize what it was and look up at me with big eyes full of surprise and delight, maybe even jump up and give me a hug. You know, like those videos people post of their kids reactions when they tell them they are going to Disney? Yeah, they were completely underwhelmed. I guess we have spoiled them too much.
Who has the last day of school on a Monday? Only in Wake County... The stupidest part of it was that Delaney had her quarterly recognition ceremony at like 9:30 am and was allowed to go home after it was over so she was only there for about an hour and a half. She did make A/B Honor Roll for the 4th quarter as well making it 4/4. Way to go kid. We are super proud of you. Now it's time for your summer break. You've earned it.
We got a later start today: 4:30 instead of 4:00. That extra 1/2 hour allowed me to get up and pack to leave. The first stop was Dry Falls, another one of the most photographed falls in the state. It also has a walkable path plus it boasts an enormous parking area. We managed to get there before the crowds though and it was roaring! There were lots of points to view the falls but there was a ton of spray so shooting had to be done from kind of far away. Again I was bemoaning not having my 24-70mm but was able to get a few decent shots.
We headed off to another location with the intention of stopping along the way to look at Callusajah Falls which is visible from the road but doesn't have an official parking area, nor an official viewing area. This was probably the funniest experience of the weekend. After looking around, Alistair decided the best view was going to be across the road up the hill a little way and we'd all have to use our big lenses. I did have my 70-200m so I whipped that out and headed over to ascend the hill. I wish I'd taken a picture of the perch we found. It was humorous to say the least. My first attempt up, I had to come back down to put my camera back in my bag since having it over my shoulder made me scared that I was going to bang it on something or it was going to make me loose my balance and fall back down. I cinched everything down and scrambled up. It really wasn't THAT far up: may 10-15' but it definitely required all 4 extremities to get there. We were all leaning on each other and had to take turns in "the spot" since there was really only one spot safe enough to take your camera out and shoot. The fun started when Alistair decided that the optimal shot was through a sapling. Alistair, by this point, was known in the group for "re-arranging" to ensure the best shots. Yeah, he pretty much just took down the tree with his bare hands. It started out as just one branch but then the other one was in the way and then the angle was better a little to the right so the entire trunk had to go. Meanwhile, there were 5 of us perched on a 45 degree rock face hanging on to roots and grass to keep from sliding back down to the road. We all had strange marks on our legs where we were sitting on all sorts of pointy rocks and stuff. When I was finished and changed spots with Eyal, we dang near had to climb over one another. Tommy was laughing his butt off at us trying to maneuver in that space. This is not a great shot to be sure but after what we went through to get it, I felt I had to include it.
We headed down the road a little bit more to see what we could find and stopped at a shot in the dark. I got one picture that was sort of interesting and dramatic but not great especially when you consider what it cost me. To get back up to the car, I had to scramble to the side of the hill and got tangled up in poison ivy. I'd been SO careful all weekend but I started to slip and all thoughts of poison ivy got pushed aside to prevent a tumble into the river. Essentially this was the river that fed into the Cullasaja Falls. I ended up to 2 spots on my left leg that itched for 2 weeks. Hey, at least it didn't go systemic!
From there we headed to our final location: Glen Falls. This particular falls has an upper, middle, and lower sections. It was a bit of a hike to get to it so off we went. We stopped at the Upper Glen Falls first. There was a happy little viewing platform off to the side but it had no shot so we had to jump the fence. It was a little slick. OK, it was downright slippery and I was considerably nervous. The whole thing made Eyal so nervous, he couldn't watch and headed down to the Middle Falls before I was back up to the platform. Yeah, that was before the warning was posted on the link I posted. We got lucky I guess.
I found a spot with Alistair holding on to me for safety but there was so much spray, I had to go with the first picture I took because by the second shot there were too many water spots on my lens. It's not really worth much as the angles were limited and this was a bit overexposed so I had to play with it significantly. I included it to have a complete visual list of the places we stopped. If I were only including worthy pics, this would have been left out.
The hike down to the Middle Falls was all hair pins but it was a beautiful stroll. We had to jump the fence again but this time it was much less harrowing. There were three really good spots from which to shoot: right, middle, and left:
What you cannot tell by these pictures is the enormity of these falls. The Upper is a 70' drop and the Middle is a 60' total drop. We did not go down to the Lower Falls as it was getting late, the light was getting harsh and it really isn't worth it. We spent a lot of time shooting and enjoying ourselves before the trek back up the hill. Remember those hairpin turns I mentioned? Yeah, we had to go back up those. Thank goodness for good boots and a well fitting backpack.
We discussed going to see one more. Tommy and Jeremy said it was "on our way home" so we followed them. When we saw a sign that said "Welcome to South Carolina" we gave up, turned around and headed home. It was a long drive home after a long weekend of a lot of activity. It was all worth it and I'd definitely do it again. Tommy and Alistair were great. If you are looking for a photography workshop, I cannot recommend Mountains to Sea enough.
I am NOT a morning person. This is not a good attribute for a photographer. Good photographers get up early to catch sunrise. The light is gorgeous and the best spots for shooting aren't overrun with tourists. Getting up at 4am is not something my body would ever do on it's own but I did for my art. We hiked into the woods in the dark to get to Raven Rock Falls. That was fun. We only had 2 people go down but no equipment was lost. We arrived in time to catch the sun rise and left when it started to over expose the top of the falls. I realize that some may find these to be too dark. That was actually on purpose. It was my vision and the look I was going for. I tried a brighter and sharper version since it was the more traditional look but preferred this so I went with it.
From there we packed up and hiked back out. Once everyone found the way up to the road we headed off to Schoolhouse Falls. It was probably my least favorite of all the falls we shot this weekend but it was definitely different than any of the others. Part of the problem was that I didn't have my 24-70mm as it is still in the shop getting repaired and my 14-24mm was too short but my 70-200mm was too long. I did what I could but it wasn't great. On top of the wrong equipment, the light wasn't great. There was a drastic line across half of the background where I was battling a very large dynamic range. Here again, having Photoshop and merging 2 exposures probably could have helped but alas, that is not in my bag of tools yet.
At this point, the sun was too high for any more shooting so we went back to the hotel for a session on how to edit these suckers. I was definitely the least experienced in this as they were talking WAAAAAY over my head. Maybe some day I will be able to comprehend the jargon that was being slung around that room.
Once it was close enough to the golden hour, we headed back out to Grogan Falls. This time we had lost a member of our group. The early morning hike had been too much for Mike so we bid him farewell and on we went. This was a long hike. I think it was 3 miles round trip but I could be wrong. This was a cool one in that it had so many parts to it. The light was awesome since it was so well shaded. There were few hot spots and less editing for me.
We had time for one more so we hoofed it to Cedar Rock Falls which was on the same basic waterway. I think it may have been my favorite one of the weekend but that is a hard call. Again, the lighting here was great. There were so many fantastic angles I couldn't stop shooting.
After a long day, we headed back to town and had dinner at Quixote. I am normally not a Mexican food lover but I couldn't be the lone dissenter so I went along assuming I'd be able to find something. WOW! I was happily surprised. Quixote was not your typical Mexican place that has been Americanized. This was authentic Mexican food and it was delicious. Does anyone know of a place like that in this area? I'd love to add Mexican to the list of places I can go.
Eyal "forced" me to join him on a photography weekend with Mountains to Sea. Originally he was looking at one that was shooting at the beach but upon further consideration and investigation of the programs, we decided that a weekend in the mountains shooting waterfalls would be cooler in both the physical sense and the metaphorical sense.
I was nervous as we are leaving for a 2 week trip to the Baltic Sea in less than a week and there is always so much to do just before a big trip. I bit the bullet and signed up. Alistair and Tommy were amazing instructors and made me feel right at home even though I was the only women among a group of 12.
We got there this afternoon and hit the ground running. We went to 2 waterfalls today. The first, pictured above and below, was Eastatoe Falls. It's unique that it is located on private property and the owners graciously allow people to come right through their yard to visit.
From there we all piled in to our cars and headed over to Looking Glass Falls. It is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the state, mainly because it's right next to the road near town with a nice parking area and a viewing deck. By the time we got there it was already a little late and all out pictures came out with a blue tint. Thank goodness for LR5 as that is a pretty easy fix.
In all of these pictures, I bracketed and then touched up the over and under exposed areas, played with the contrast, clarity and saturation for a kind of dark, erie mood. I think getting up at 4 am on Saturday before I edited them may have had some influence on that.
If I'd had Photoshop Alistair and Tommy demonstrated how to stack the pictures and mask different parts for a clean picture throughout. Up to this point, I have been getting by with LR5 as PS is more for heavy editing and it was beyond my needs but now that I have been shown some basics I'm reconsidering upgrading to the entire Adobe Creative Cloud.
I'm a mother of 2 girls living in NC. I've dabbled in photography on and off but really this is just for fun