Photowalk – Yet another Mountain Stream

A rainy Sunday morning. Four of us gathered up early in the morning for a planned photowalk. Yesterday evening, we had thought of going for an early morning outing. Rain or no-rain, the photowalk was still ‘on’. We were not going to let a few drops downpour spoil our plans. Packed with our photography gear and umbrellas, we all started off for our destination while the day was still breaking out. With an overcast sky, the photography was going to be nice, provided the rains stopped a little. The destination? A mountain stream that should be nicely flooded at this time of the year.

Cascading mountain stream

(Cascading mountain stream – this is the place we wanted to visit)

The rain was pouring and so there was no chance that any of us was going to risk getting our camera gear out, which had been bought from our hard earned money, like by most others. The only option was to wait out the rain. Accuweather had not predicted any rain after all.

The first stop was a road-side shack. The only one that was open at such an early hour. The drumming of the rain on the tin-roof somehow amplified the intensity of the rain and made the shack look even more inviting. All four of us stepped into the shack for a quick bite. In such torrential rain, there was no chance of catching some early morning light. Hot tea with milk and sugar, buns with butter piled on to them and boiled eggs! For us this was a king’s breakfast. Just outside the shack were a few dozen sparrows. They did not mind the rain. Maybe for them the rain brought out the worms they had waited for all through the summers. It would have been a wonderful photograph, but I had a 50mm prime lens mounted on my camera and the camera itself was in the car. Sometimes, even for photographers out on photowalk, laziness comes over and we end up missing beautiful photographs. Now sitting back comfortably in my room, while sipping on a hot coffee, I am missing that photo-opportunity. Maybe I should have taken out my camera, stood under the tin-roof, changed the lens to a long telephoto and captured some of those sparrows. Lesson for future – always take the camera out of the car, even if we have stop for a quick snack.


Photography starts

After a short break, by the time we finished our tea, the rain slowed down a little. Next stop was the mountain stream itself. It was just round the corner from the shack. Just one of us had visited that place earlier. There was a bridge on which the road passed and down under was a the overflowing mountain stream.

While I started setting up my tripod – one of my friends found an interesting cactus nearby. He was busy photographing that. Lately it seems that I have been clicking lots of motion blurs. Somehow they seem to attract me a lot.


Mountain stream from top

(Over two minutes of exposure with f/11 aperture at 100 ISO.)


First exposure was from the top, from a place near the bridge which had a some protection from the drizzle. With the 50mm mounted on the camera, I switched to manual mode, 100 ISO, Timed shutter speed (so as to open the shutter on first click and close on the next click) and manual focusing. The flowing water which appeared to turn around a tall rock was beautiful. The tall rock was a remnant of the part of the hill and was at one time connected to the hill. There was also a bridge on top of it. Some decades back, the flowing water broke the bridge and now all that remains is this tall rock which stood firm on its feet. After composing the scene and focusing the lens, I screwed on my dark ND filter (Hoya PRO ND 1000 filter). The first exposure was a little underexposed at one minute. For the second exposure, I counted to about 120 seconds with a few comments exchanged with my friends in between. The resulting photograph with over two minutes of exposure seemed perfect.

Notice in the photography above, how the bright green foliage on top of the rock stands out in front of the dark green trees behind. This had to be taken care of while composing the scene. The silvery blur of the water, with good mid-level exposure (as per the histogram) is what adds to the impact.


We, the photographers, have our priorities right

For the next exposure, we planned on going down to the side of the stream. Picking up my tripod with the camera mounted on it, with my camera bag and tripod bag and also balancing an oversized umbrella, I stepped out. The expected happened. I slipped and fell. Thanfully, another one of us was still there next to me and he immediately supported the camera from falling on the ground. There were rocks around, but thankfully I did not hit my head there. I too made sure while falling down that the camera did not bang down on the rocky ground. In an instant of my fall, we were clear in our minds about what to do. Photographers to the soul!!! The camera was saved. I ended up with a few minor abrasions on my right arm but nothing to worry. It won’t stop the photography we had planned.

With a dry towel, I wiped off the mud from my tripod and camera strap. No damage done to the camera. The strap will get washed today (Camera Straps). On reaching down, another of my friends was quite concerned. He wanted to know if the camera was all right.


At level with the mountain stream

For this next shot, I again composed the image without the ND filter, focused and mounted the filter back. It’s very hard to see anything once the filter is mounted. I have tried peering through the viewfinder and sometimes, I am able to make out a dark outline of the white cascading water against the still darker background of rocks but it is of practically no help. Everything has to be set before mounting the filter on.


Stream from bank

(72 sec exposure at f/11. The rock on the left hides the upstream region adding an element of mystery. The light conditions changed a little and the overall scene turned a little cool. Lucky. Good for the overall composition as the cool hue further adds to the strength of the rock and overall mystery feeling.)


Time to recompose my frame and capture the flowing water in a different manner. The rocks appeared interesting from this level. I could feel their strength and how the overflowing water seemed to underline this fact.


(The rocks – photographed at f/11 with a little less than 2 minute exposure. Notice the composition how the rocks are placed in the center of the frame. Do read this – Myths in Photography? You decide!)


Selfies and Mobile Photography

Some of us also indulged in selfies and group snaps using our mobile phone cameras. Here is a pic of mine while I photographed the rocks above. My one hand was occupied with the umbrella all the time. This is where the ball-head makes sense even on a tripod. Apart from the umbrella, I also held on to the bags, since the ground was too wet to keep them. The umbrella was required since the drizzle was still continuing.

Standing under the umbrella

(Just a snap to show where and how I stood. I’ll update it with a better one if any of my friends happen to have clicked. The bridge behind me is of the road on top.)

Their group photos on the rocks turned out to be real nice, unlike the picture above. I was far off and so the picture is not that clear.


Returning back

After spending some good amount of time, capturing some nice photographs, it was time to return. Somehow the time does fly by when one is having a good time.

After climbing back, we went across the bridge to see what was on the other side. There were a couple of homes and the road further seemed to be going into deep wilderness. Our inner voice wanted us to explore further but then there were few other tasks to be taken care of and so we started packing everything back. The view of the stream from the bridge was also quite interesting. One last photograph !

A barbet flew by and settled quietly on the bridge railing. No chirping, not a sound. It just kept looking at as. It was also intrigued at the strange group of people touting dark colored objects. Maybe it had come to just say goodbye.

Stream from bridge

(Stream from the bridge – 80 second exposure at f/11 and ISO 100.)


Reached home now. After finishing this article, I’ll once again clean all my photography gear and then visit a nearby doctor’s clinic for the required shots and dressing!

It’s good to have friends, it’s even better to have friends interested in photography and it’s fantabulous to go out on photowalks and short trips with such friends. This article is dedicated to all those crazy friends of mine who have had the patience to bear with me during photography or enjoy photography with me (from today’s trip and from the various other trips earlier).


Further Reading:
On the trail of Cascades & Waterfalls
Cascade near Do-Gaon
Mountain Stream & Long Exposures

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