Taking Photographs at Familiar and Unfamiliar Locations Series: Part 1

October 27, 2017

This series of blog posts have to do with photographing familiar places vs. unfamiliar places. What I want to archive is discussing some of the advantages and disadvantages of both and introduce the reader to some wonderful places to photograph.

 

Familiar

Valley Falls State Park, West Virginia

Valley Falls State Park is the second closes park to our home, 14 miles one way, the only park closer is Pricketts Fort State Park.  Valley Falls is a 1,145 acre day use only park on the Tygart Valley River.  The park’s main feature is a half-mile long set of waterfalls. The park is usually open from April to October but they don’t tell you that on their web site. During my travels, there have been inconsistencies when open. On a few nice falls occasions when the leaves looked great I went out and it was closed.

There are advantages to being that close to a State Park.

I know the park well and I been visiting there since I was young. On a weekend I can run over there between errands and shoot away. I know what the weather is; I usually have a good idea of what the water level will be when I get there. I know what it looks like when the water is low and when it is high. I can tell you where the sun is located, what it looks like in Spring, Summer and Fall.  I don’t have to research the area.

With all that, there are some disadvantages.

Sometimes visiting a place over and over causes you to take the same photos and get stuck in a rut that might be had to overcome. Also the park is popular, especially during nice sunny weekends.  So much so that at times you need to wait till someone moves out of the frame to take the photo. These dilemmas offer you some opportunities to break the monotony and intrusions.

 

  • Take at during water levels.

          This was taken at Fall during a low water level.

Valley Falls Fall 2012 2Valley Falls Fall 2012 2Valley Falls State Park, WV

          This was taken during high water level.

Tygart River Winter 2012 2Tygart River Winter 2012 2Valley Falls State Park, WV

 

  • Take the shot that most don’t take and to avoid people in the frame. For example, get close.

Falls at Valley FallsFalls at Valley FallsBlack and White image of the Falls at Valley Falls State Park West Virginia Valley Falls Winter 2012 6Valley Falls Winter 2012 6Valley Falls State Park, WV

 

  • Try something different like Infrared.

Valley Fall B&W InfraredValley Fall B&W InfraredBlack and White Infrared image taken at Valley Falls State Park West Virginia Valley Falls IRValley Falls IRValley Falls State Park, WV

  • Tying different times of the day and different weather.

          I took this right at Noon's hard light which create a harsh view of the rapids wish really accented the turbulence.

Valley Falls Summer 2012 4Valley Falls Summer 2012 4Valley Falls State Park, WV

            Taken on a wet foggy day as you can tell.

Valley Falls State Park PanValley Falls State Park PanMarion County, West Virginia

 

     I Got a sunset photo once, and right after it I was told to leave, the park was closing.

Spring at Valley Falls SP 2Spring at Valley Falls SP 2Valley Falls State Park WV

 

Unfamiliar

Big Run Bog, Tucker County WV

Big Run Bog is located in Tucker County West Virginia at an altitude of around 3,200 feet. I have lived in WV all my life and never heard of this bog. I came across it one day while look at a web site listing blogs in WV. It is located near the Blackwater Canyon and drains into the Blackwater River so while in the area I had to paid it is visit.

The big advantage of this new location was, well a new location to take photos at. I was surprised to find when I arrived there were pitcher plants and they were in bloom for the fall.

Pitcher PlantsPitcher PlantsPitcher Plants at Big Run Bog West Virginia

This bog is not frequented and I had it all to myself the time I was there. I could explore and take photos at my whim.

Being a not so known and photographed location, there was limited information available for people to use. Some of my photos were on the cover and in a write-up of Big Run Bog in a newsletter for the ‘Friend of Blackwater’ conservation organization.

Friends of Blackwater

Friends of Blackwater NewsletterFriends of Blackwater Newsletterhttp://www.saveblackwater.org/

The biggest disadvantage here is that there is not a lot of information on it. I knew the basic location but while driving there I was not sure exact where it was. When I saw what I believe was a blog, I knew that must be the place.  I have not seen many photos of this blog, so I was not sure what to expect. I really did not know where or what I could photograph. I could have arrived and not been able to reach the blog area. I also did not know what condition the road was in. This is WV, it might go from gravel to 4x4  high clearance only but will be referred to as a dirt road locally.

Went back a second time in Fall when I was more familiar. Leaf color was really muted so I took photos of the tawny cotton grass and Ferns.

Tawny Cotton GrassTawny Cotton GrassTawny Cotton Grass at Big Run Bog, Tucker County, West Virginia

Ferns at Big Run BogFerns at Big Run BogFerns at Big Run Bog, Tucker County, West Virginia

Log at big Run BogLog at big Run BogBig Run Bog, Tucker County, West Virginia

 

Valley Falls and  Big Run Bog are both great places to photograph and deserve return visit.


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