Pic of the Week 11/3/16: Little Niagara Falls Panorama
Date Taken: 10/30/16
Location: Chickisaw National Recreation Area (Sulphur, OK)
It has been almost three years since my last trip to the Chickisaw National Recreation Area. My first trip left more to be desired. My mother and I were there in November of 2013 hoping to capture some of the changing fall foliage. But 2013 was still part of the drought and most of the creeks, springs, and streams that Chickisaw is well known for were completely dried up. We still came back with some nice photos, but I was really disappointed. Fast forward to three years later and I'm gearing up at 4:30am to meet with the Red River Photography Club and venture back out to Chickisaw for some landscape photography. Chickisaw National Recreation area is a beautiful oasis in the Oklahoma prairie. Originally designated as Sulphur Springs Reservation (1902) and Platt National Park (1906) Chickisaw National Recreation area is a beautiful oasis in southern Oklahoma that divides the eastern deciduous forest and the western prairies. Through the heart of the reservation run Travertine and Rock creeks that make up the cascading waterfalls and streams of the park. It really is a unique and special place. To find out more information check out this link: https://www.nps.gov/chic/index.htm
We arrived to Chickisaw around 7:30am and met at the Lincoln bridge near the park entrance. When I got out of my vehicle I was excited. I could hear water running from the creek below. The last time I visited this area was completely dry. Water running in this creek was a great sign. We continued down Perimeter Road stopping along the way to photograph some of the waterfalls and swimming holes in the area. After a short drive we arrived at their biggest attraction: Little Niagara Falls. Again, this area had no water running from three years ago. Despite what the name suggests, Little Niagara Falls is nothing like the real Niagara Falls, but its still just as wonderfully unique. I photographed several exposures and tried different composition on the falls. When I was satisfied I moved further down the trail the second level of the falls. I searched out different photos from this location and I ended up perched on a small rock just barely large enough to fit me and my tripod on. As I observed the scene before me I thought I could make an interesting composition in the panoramic format. This image is made of 15 blended and stitched photographs and I reprocessed it three different times until I got the result I wanted.
It was a particularly challenging shot to get. The extreme contrast between the sky and foreground was so great I had to bracket my exposures to cover the range. Not to mention the small area I was sitting on did not leave me much room to manipulate the camera. But I made my exposures after a few test shots and felt pretty confident in the final image. After some failure with the exposure blending I finally got the right mix and proceeded to process the image as normal. The wide angle lens and panorama format really make you feel like you're there. The long exposure also helped capture the flow of the water of the rocks and trees which adds a nice sense of movement to the photo. Lastly, being so close to the falls and tree help you become immersed in the tranquil landscape. It was a great trip and I came back with some excellent photos and I feel like Chickisaw National Recreation Area lived up to its name this time. I will certainly be coming back, but maybe during a more active fall season.