Walking down memory lane

... and a quick intro on how to photograph waterfalls

It was one of those days I had the need to go out to photograph, but I had nothing planned and no idea where to go! The sun was warm, but went in and out of partly heavy clouds. Earlier that morning it had been raining, and I knew that the condition would turn out very good for photographing waterfalls. Thinking back to the days when I hiked the local areas with my dad, I remembered a spot I haven't been to in ages! 

Conditions for photographing waterfalls

When photographing a waterfall you don't want the sun to shine at it's brightest. With a harsh sun directly on the waterfall, you're highlights will be blown out and the surrounding scenery will have a hard and unpleasant look. What you want is some overcast. With the waterfall being in shadow, you also reduce the risk of blowing out the highlights. Personally I love photographing waterfalls after it has been raining, and the sun is in and out of the clouds. This gives some lush green colours that makes the norwegian forest look like a Puerto Rican rainforest! 

When photographing waterfalls you often want to get as close to the action you can, to get a nice perspective, note that this isn't always the best option. By getting close, the water will in many cases splash the front of your lens. With your lens covered with drops of water, your final product will be ruined. A while back my friend Mahesh Thapa, a experienced Seattle based photographer (Join his adventures on Instagram) shared a tricks on how to handle this. First of all you need to wipe your lens with a microfiber cloth constantly between every shot. If you are more people together, taking turns on wiping each others lenses could be a good idea. The other tips Mahesh gave me was to use a Air Blaster to handle the humidity and condensation.

Finding a hidden gem made me sweat

So, back to that warm summer day in Norway! 
As I said, this particular day I knew that the conditions would be excellent for some waterfalls. My town is mostly forrest and some lakes. No huge mountains and not a lot of waterfalls except the one splitting my town in two. I tried to remember if I ever had been to any waterfalls in the nearby area earlier. I had one in mind that I visited last year, but I ended up on the topside of it, and I thought it was impossible to find my way down to it's foot without abseiling. I contacted a friend who lives nearby, and he said it is possible to get down there, but it is a bit steep. Needles to say, we took the trip to this waterfall that is not very known by the inhabitants in the area, as it is hidden behind a military camp. After a little walking we got to the path leading down. My friend told me it was steep, but I didn't imaging it was going to be that steep! 

The descent

Clinging on to a small bush I mounted the tripod and got this image that show the majestic waterfall named Gjøgerfossen

Clinging on to a small bush I mounted the tripod and got this image that show the majestic waterfall named Gjøgerfossen

The waterfall is approximately 20 meters tall, so the descent wasn't more then 25 meters. However, one wrong step could lead to a possible fatal fall, as the drop next to the "path" is vertical into a rocky and shallow creek. Normally I don't suffer from Vertigo, but trying to get down here I didn't feel comfortable what so ever. The main reason of my insecurity was the loose gravel we had to walk on down. My feet slipped a couple times on this lose surface but I managed to get my balance back. There was really nothing to grab on to if you fell, just grass and some bushes, but nothing that could hold 70kg! Even tho the vertigo had a slight grip around me, I did take the time to look up and enjoy the beauty of this hidden gem. I actually enjoyed it so much that I had to get a shot of it! Carefully I got a hold of my tripod and placed it in the steep hill next to me. My left foot was resting on a small plateau that was barely larger then the foot itself. I laid in an awkward position where I managed to keep balance and I got out the camera and found a composition I was comfortable with. Clinging on to a small bush next to me, I fired of some shot's and got what I wanted. Then it was time to finish the horrifying climb down. 

Visualising the photo

Once at the bottom I realised that getting down most likely was the easy part, getting back up would be challenging! However, I put away those thoughts and savoured the refreshing breeze down by the water. The combination of sparkling water from the waterfall and the earlier rain, made the rocks slippery as ice, but good shoes and careful walking eliminated this threat pretty fast. Standing there watching the waterfall, I really liked the "levels" the water fell down at the bottom, and I visualised a B&W picture before actually bringing out the camera. As a practise I often find myself visualising a image before I take it, as this will make the processing part much easier. Sometimes decisions about a image is made at the moment when I start processing it, but visualising the end result often pays of as well as it keeps your creativity working. 

When visualising this image I knew that I wanted to create a B&W that showed the detailed beauty of Gjøgerfossen's lower area.

When visualising this image I knew that I wanted to create a B&W that showed the detailed beauty of Gjøgerfossen's lower area.

The climb back up wasn't as gruelling as I first feared. Yes, it was challenging to climb up when my feet slipped all the time, but I put enough weight on my upper body that I pulled through without more then a couple scratches. All in all it was totally worth the struggle, and I would happily do it again. The adrenalin is almost as fun as taking the pictures!

Searching memories

Back at the top the clock wasn't showing much more then midday, so no way that I was going back home now! Earlier that day I had been thinking of what waterfalls I knew about in my area (researching doesn't give anything), and I started to wander back in time. Remembering the days when I went hiking with my dad as a kid, I found a river with many huge waterfalls. Excited about remembering this place that I haven't visited in years, I got back in the car and drove further. 

From the bottom and up

Quick shot of the lowest part of the waterfall

Quick shot of the lowest part of the waterfall

After crossing some fields and fighting through some thick woods (for sure not the easiest way to get there, but hey who remembers that detailed from when you were a kid?), the lowest waterfall appeared in it's most presentable looks! To my disappointment she was shy, and didn't want to shine in front of the camera. I'll add one image I took, just to show here the beauty she holds! It's still on my to-do-list to get back here and see her in better light again. 

Now it was the time to start walking the same path I walked for around 10 years ago. Crossing the river and climbing up next to the waterfall, there is a small path leading all the way up this beautiful creek. I would soon realise that my memory of the place was not exactly how it is in reality. 

Not the same as I remembered

So, I'll repeat myself just to make it 100% clear. I haven't been here since I was around 12 years old. I couldn't have been much taller than 150cm, so obviously everything would seem much bigger then? 

Not as big as I remember, but ten times as beautiful

Not as big as I remember, but ten times as beautiful

I wasn't disappointed of the waterfalls further up than the previous one, not at all. Actually, I was positively surprised. It was more beautiful than I remembered, but not nearly as big as what my memory said. The waterfalls were not big at all, they were pretty small. I like that tho, it was so peaceful. Before setting up the camera, I had to sit down for a couple minutes and just enjoy it. Just sit back, listen to the sound of rushing water, some birds, and now the norwegian midsummer sun burning deep. Moments like this is when I feel alive, happy and relaxed. It doesn't matter if I'm exhausted after a long hike, these moments fill my soul with harmony. 

To end this afternoon even better, the clouds came back for a little period so I got the pictures I wanted in the correct light. With a big smile on my face, it was time to hike back to the car, drive home and enjoy dinner! 

As always I'm happy to answer any questions, and you are more then welcome to drop a line in the comment section or send me a mail through the contact sheet. I'm also available on facebook or other social media. Don't hesitate to say hi! 

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