I’m still working through my many Costa Rica pictures, but I thought I’d take a little break to share a photostory with you.

I do some crazy things sometimes, and I don’t always consider my own safety while getting lost in the excitement of photography.  As a result, I can get caught in some precarious situations.  It’s only then that I realize I might have had a slight slip in judgement.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

While camping last summer, we hiked many trails and visited many beautiful waterfalls.  One such hike boasted both an Upper and Lower Falls on the same trail: Proxy Falls.  We were determined to seek both of them out.

Sure enough, Lower Proxy Falls was breathtaking.  It was shaded and cool, energizing in its refreshing, ionized mist.  I took several shots from varying angles; I was pleased the shade allowed for long exposures without an ND filter.  I even worked in a self-portrait.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

We ran into maybe one or two others there, and I think both came with cameras and tripods in-hand.  It was quite peaceful and quiet.

I got closer to the base of the falls and noticed there was almost a path that continued up along the lefthand side.  I wanted to get closer still, and my curiosity serves me as well as a cat’s, so upwards I ascended.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Sure enough, this vantage afforded me closer inspection of the mossy details of each water-pounded rock.  It was beautiful.

Just a few more feet up…

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

I was mesmerized by the sheer power of the water cascading down.  The curtains of water were hypnotic.

A little farther…

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

When I had had my fill, I collapsed my tripod and turned around to backtrack.  Glancing down, I realized I was quite a bit farther above Aaron than I thought.  It was also a little steeper than I remembered.  How had I come so far?  The “path” continued up the ridge, and in my infinite wisdom in that moment, I decided it was probably easier to climb up and out of the bowl than it was to crawl back down the way I had come.

Unfortunately, the higher I climbed, the farther the top pulled away from me.  If I could just breach the ridge, I could simply walk back down the slope.  My plight was made even more complicated by the awkward tripod I was still lugging and the bulky bag on my back.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Eventually, with the help of some sturdy tree roots, I returned to comparatively level ground above the falls.  I knew there was no going back at this point.

But my adventure wasn’t done yet.  I found myself out of the pan and into the fire.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

The resulting hillside was likewise steep with thick underbrush (this is Oregon, after all) that was difficult to traverse.  My paranoid mind began thinking about becoming one of those idiots who does something stupid and gets lost in the woods.  If only I could find my way back to the trail.  Surely I’d hit it if I kept going in a straight line, right down the hill.

After some bushwhacking, the trees finally gave way, and I emerged onto a trail – though it didn’t quite resemble the trail.  I headed in the direction I believed the falls to lie, and I was relieved when I ultimately bumped into Aaron.  He had merely seen me disappear toward the waterfall and didn’t know where I’d gone.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

A bit tired from the exertion and still coming down from the slight adrenaline spike, we opted to milk this hike for yet more adventure – we’d come this far; why not?  We continued along this side trail to the Upper Falls, rejoicing in the fact that I didn’t fall to my death at the last waterfall.

By the time we got to Upper Proxy Falls, the sunlight was far too bright for any decent photography, and I didn’t yet have an ND filter to beautifully blur the swirling pool.  I did, however, kind of like this more abstract glare.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

We completed the loop and called it a day.

Was the extra adventure worth the photos?  Well, you know I’ll always say yes to that.  Would I do it again?  Ehhh….. probably not.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I’m probably ok with finding less death-defying means of photographing (until my next lapse in judgement).  It was just a bit more excitement than I had anticipated.  But I suppose that’s how I live my life, and it makes for a fun story!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016


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0 thoughts on “Photostory: How to Not Photograph a Waterfall

  1. Haha! What a sweet photostory. It’s amazing how our curiosity leads us on until our senses strike on is like Bam!. It was a beautiful adventure you had, it’s a good thing you didn’t die though and I still envy you. Please take me along with you on your next adventure😊

  2. Great story and of course you photos are fantastic. It reminded me of the time I was deer hunting with my dad. Only I did get lost and when I did find a road, I didn’t realize I had made a big circle and came out on the same road I had entered. The deep woods can play havoc on your sense of direction.

  3. Even though photographs come out extraordinary… its not worth the risk in my opinion. Once I fell in the water trying to take picture like that, camera dipped in the water!
    Take care next time… 🙂

  4. Really enjoyed your story and all your gorgeous waterfalls images. A friend of mine once climbed down a slippery bank of rocks on a creek to photograph an old mill and broke her expensive lens after a slip but she got a wonderful image of that mill. I was a bit chicken at the time so my images of that old mill were just so so but my lens still in tact.

    • Haha! Yeah, I probably should have been a bit more careful, but I got carried away. Fortunately, I didn’t break anything (on my body or my camera), so it all turned out ok, but I do try to be a bit more cautious nowadays.

What do you think?