Discovery On The Way to The Waterfall
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The other day I posted my first attempt at a waterfall shot, in “A Snapshot From Today's Hike: Kuuya-taki Waterfall in Western Kyoto”. I'd made an unplaned visit with Nicolas Joannin after the visit to the Gioji Temple that I've been posting about lately.

We discovered the waterfall in the same way that I discover a lot of thing, by following a small mountain road that I'd seen on a map and wondered why it was there. After a while of narrow deep-mountain winding sometimes-rough roads not unlike these I wrote about last year, we came to a small turnoff at a river, with a couple of footpaths leading away. It seemed as good a point as any to stop and investigate.

One path seemed to head up the mountain, while the other one looked to parallel the picturesque river. We took that one first.

First Shot Needs Salt just doesn't work at all: needs a tripod and a polarizer  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
First Shot Needs Salt
just doesn't work at all: needs a tripod and a polarizer

My first reaction to a beautiful scene when I'm out with the camera is to take a picture, even when I know it won't come out, and indeed I often have my intuition confirmed. With flowing water you need a longer exposure to capture that sense of movement, but that requires a tripod, which I didn't bring. (Remember, I had no idea what, if anything, I would find when I picked the road in the first place.)

The first snapshot also came out really flat, telling me that I'd likely benefit from a polarizing filter, as I did earlier with the moss at the temple.

Upon hearing my whining about the lack of a tripod, Nicolas reaches into his small backpack and magically produces a Joby Gorillapod that he bought at Yodobashi Camera. I'd never really seen one of these, and thought it was a great chance to give it a try...

Bad Hair Day courtesy of the summer heat, a motorcycle helmet, and me being me ( but hey, at least I had a clean shave, unlike the other day's portraiture ) photo by Nicolas Joannin  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Nicolas Joannin, http://regex.info/blog/
E-P2 — 1/25 sec, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Bad Hair Day
courtesy of the summer heat, a motorcycle helmet, and me being me
( but hey, at least I had a clean shave, unlike the other day's portraiture )
photo by Nicolas Joannin

As you can see in the photo above (at least if you can avert your eyes from the trainwreck that is my hair), the Gorillapod is pretty convenient.

Here's the first result with it, an 0.8 second exposure...

Better but still needs that polarizer  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 0.8 sec, f/8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Better
but still needs that polarizer
New Setup photo by Nicolas Joannin  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Nicolas Joannin, http://regex.info/blog/
E-P2 + LUMIX G VARIO 14-45/F3.5-5.6 at an effective 28mm — 1/8 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
New Setup
photo by Nicolas Joannin
desktop background image of an okay stream/waterfall shot, from the mountains of Kyoto Japan  --  This is More Like It  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 2 sec, f/8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
This is More Like It
Desktop-Background Versions
1280×800  ·  1680×1050  ·  1920×1200  ·  2560×1600

I finally got around to using the polarizer, and used a longer two-second exposure to get more creamy blur, and the result finally enters the “at least it's not crap” range. Composition still leaves something to be desired, as does sharpness. The Gorillapod is nice, but was taxed by the heavy D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 combination, and the camera undulated like crazy in the wind.

Still, though not perfect, I was all for testing, since it was my first time with the tripod and with flowing water...

Precarious photo by Nicolas Joannin  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Nicolas Joannin, http://regex.info/blog/
E-P2 + LUMIX G VARIO 14-45/F3.5-5.6 at an effective 28mm — 1/8 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Precarious
photo by Nicolas Joannin

(You can see above that I'm “wearing” the repurposed lens bag that I wrote about earlier this year.)

Here's the shot I got with the setup seen above...

Meh was worth a try  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 2.5 sec, f/8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Meh
was worth a try

(The stairs of the path along the river is slightly visible in the far upper right of the photo.)

Nicolas, a genetic biologist by trade, tends to like bugs, a subject covered in this blog post. He found a fuzzy caterpillar he wanted to photograph up close, so employed my Voigtländer 125mm with an adapter on his Olympus E-P2...

Challenging Setup  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, f/1.4, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Challenging Setup
In Action  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/320 sec, f/1.4, ISO 5600 — map & image datanearby photos
In Action
Nicolas's Bug photo by Nicolas Joannin  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Nicolas Joannin, https://plus.google.com/u/0/116578079434506112628
E-P2 — 4 sec, ISO 200 — image data
Nicolas's Bug
photo by Nicolas Joannin

We slowly made our way up the mountain on the well-paved path along the river, stopping every few moments for more wonders to photograph.

At one point a small stream joined the river, running by some kind of monument with what at first glance seemed to be a bunch of old rusty pistons...

Monument To The White-Snake King? perhaps related to the legends I've heard of about white snakes that guard the area's water supply?  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 5600 — map & image datanearby photos
Monument To The White-Snake King?
perhaps related to the legends I've heard of about white snakes that guard the area's water supply?
desktop background image of a small monument in the mountians of Kyoto Japan, on the path to the Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Buckets ( not pistons )  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Buckets
( not pistons )
Desktop-Background Versions
1280×800  ·  1680×1050  ·  1920×1200  ·  2560×1600

At random intervals one finds remnants of walls that indicate that things were going on in previous generations (centuries? millennia?)...

Remnants and, in the background, the modern garbage that is ubiquitous in Japanese nature  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2200 — map & image datanearby photos
Remnants
and, in the background, the modern garbage that is ubiquitous in Japanese nature

Tons of gorgeous ferns everywhere, but I never get a picture that I feel does them justice, though I try...

Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/100 sec, f/5.6, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
“Protect the Forest From Fire”  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/200 sec, f/2.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
“Protect the Forest From Fire”

We eventually came across a cluster of modern (but tightly buttoned up) buildings that seemed to be part of a shrine of some sort.

Shrine apparently to this “Dragon King” , whatever that is  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Shrine
apparently to this “Dragon King”, whatever that is
Nicolas With His Gorillapod  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
Nicolas With His Gorillapod

The main path seemed to run through the cluster of buildings, though as we took it I wasn't 100% sure it was necessarily open to the public because the area was unmarked and had more of a feeling of someone's unkempt backyard strewn with “stuff” than a public hiking trail. Since the path did lead directly there, one would expect “no entry” signs if not open to the public, so lacking those, with a sense of adventure and discover, we pressed forward.

We did notice, however, off to the side the ruins of an old stone staircase launching up the side of the mountain in a manner that screamed “deathtrap”, and I half expected Indiana Jones to come flying down with a look of terror (and a slight mischievous smile) on his face....

Staircase Ruins precariously steep and highly dilapidated, leading..... where?  --  Kuuya-taki Waterfall (空也滝)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos
Staircase Ruins
precariously steep and highly dilapidated, leading..... where?

Continued here...


All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

Another typo – to check if your mom is paying attention: “Nicolas, a genetic biologist by trade, like bugs,”

It was actually a comment on biologists…. 🙂 (thanks, fixed) —Jeffrey

— comment by Peter van den Hamer on July 4th, 2012 at 3:55pm JST (5 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

What an appealing and beautiful piece of woodland ! Just makes me want to walk into the pictures.

I am constantly surprised that there isn’t (not that I’ve ever seen, anyway) a waterfall photography debate. Sorry to say it, but I like the first waterfall much better than the shots that follow. For me, and of course it is a personal thing, the smeared ‘glossy calendar cliché’ effect resulting from a long exposure does not at all convey the movement of the water, quite the contrary, and I can not understand the appeal of the technique. The result looks as if someone has traipsed into the woods with a huge sheet of white satin and draped it down the valley – it looks static and lifeless.

I would not go to the other extreme of a very short exposure, which freezes the water in an equally unnatural way, but I think an exposure of too-short-to-handhold-safely duration, perhaps around 1/15 or 1/8 second, depending on lens and distance from the water, shows and conveys movement much more effectively than either extreme. For example, ‘New Setup’ looks much more natural to me.

I really ought to try a whole range of different exposures for waterfalls but, wet as Wales is (especially this year), I don’t live in waterfall country. Obviously there isn’t a right or wrong technique, but it would be interesting to hear others’ views.

I made some tests that will appear eventually appear in another post. You’re definitely in the minority on this, but indeed, let’s hear from others… —Jeffrey

— comment by Peter in Wales on July 4th, 2012 at 7:35pm JST (5 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Hi There!

Nice pics! Learnt some stuff from it.

Just some proper chinese translation….
Picture Monument To The White-Snake King: –
The Chinese characters actually read the “Snake Valley of the White Jade Dragon King”.

Picture “Shrine”: –
The Chinese characters read “8 Big Dragon King”

Cheers!

— comment by Berdo on July 17th, 2012 at 11:31am JST (5 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink
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