If you asked me what is my favorite place to go for photographs, I would say Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia.
In my opinion, one of the best cascades for waterfall photography in Blackwater is one of the littlest know in Blackwater, Falls Run.
Falls Run Location:
Falls Run is around 100 yard from the Gentle Trail parking area. To get there, park at the trail head and walk south on the road for around 100 yards. The first stream you come to that also passes under the road is Falls Run. On the left side facing downstream you will see a faint path leading down the hillside, stay to the left of the stream. Use caution, like most trails into the gorge, it is steep, slippery, and covered with rhododendron thickets. Since Fall Run is near the main falls, the decent into the gorge is a shorter one, a lot shorter than a descent at Pendleton or Shay Run.
Most of the falls will have to be viewed from the one side only because of the step rocky slope / cliffs of the other side. Photography from the bottom of the falls will entail scrambling over slick rocks and fallen trees. If you’re at the bottom, you will be fairly close to the falls so prepare for some spray. I never have shot the falls in the evening so I am not sure if the evening sun will cast into the canyon or not at this location.
This is the first falls you come too, call it Falls Run, Fall #1. I would say around 18’.This falls you can photograph from the side or below.
This photo was shot early morning with the sun rising above the falls through the trees taken from the side.
This is the second falls you come too, call it Falls Run, Fall #2, it is big, I would say around 30’. This falls too can be photographed from the side or below. On my most recent trip the wind was blowing spray right towards me making it a challenge to get a photo without spray all over the lens. It was a futile attempt to clean the lens and get a photo.
I never have continued at this location down to the Blackwater River. There seem to be two smaller cascades but the first two mentioned is the ones to see. I will leave the trip further down the gorge for another occasion.
The ‘of course’: Cable / Shutter release and tripod
Hiking boots: a lot of rocks and roots that will need to be treed on.
Lens cloth: for spray on lens or a rain cover to keep spray of camera
Filters: Polarizer and Neutral Density.
A note, I used neither on my last trip because of weather conditions but I did have them with me. It was an overcast day so I really felt I did not need a polarizer for glaring. The ND filters were not needed because the light in the canyon being overcast was enough for shooting slow shutter speeds. I even had to go up to a 200 ISO to get a ¼ sec speed. At the bottom of the falls there aren’t any really nice eddie pools so longer shutter speeds were not needed. Sometimes I think that waterfall shutter speeds go too long and the water looks more like a fog instead of a nice cascade then you lose that sense of movement.
A wide angle lens is a must: on my recent trip I shot with my Sigma 10-20mm but don’t count out a zoom for some close up detail shots.
Additional note: I used my camera backpack, that way I could have my hands free for getting out of the gorge.
Enjoy Falls Run and be safe.