Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Chalk Ridge Falls in Bell County

with 13 comments

Chalk Ridge Falls 5163

You may remember a picture posted here on September 1st showing seed heads of inland sea oats that I photographed hanging into the void above Chalk Ridge Falls in Bell County on August 28. Truth to tell, that picture was intended for now, but somehow I clicked the wrong button and the post went merrily on its way into the world a month early. Oh well, those things happen. Anyhow, in that image I limited the falls to an indistinct background so as not to distract from the inland sea oats. Now you get to see the waterfall in its own right. In spite of the summer drought, this creek had continued flowing, even if at a reduced volume.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 29, 2013 at 6:01 AM

13 Responses

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  1. Looks refreshing. Did you play around with shutter speeds for different effects?

    Jim in IA

    September 29, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    • The falls do look refreshing, and although I wanted to get closer so I could frame the picture differently, I couldn’t find any easy way down to the base of the falls from where the trail was. I took today’s picture, like the one of the inland sea oats, with a telephoto lens.

      As for shutter speeds, many photographers use long exposures to soften the flow of falling water to such an extent that almost no details remain in it. That soft view of falling water is pretty, and although in general I’m not opposed to photographing in a way that produces a result different from what we normally see—after all, I often use a macro lens to bring out details invisible to the naked eye, or a high shutter speed to stop the action of a moving insect—I do believe that cottony waterfalls have become a cliché, and therefore I prefer what you might call a more-natural view of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2013 at 8:11 AM

      • Thanks for your explanation about the exposure times. I understand and agree about the why. That term ‘cottony waterfalls’ is a good one.

        Jim in IA

        September 29, 2013 at 9:14 AM

        • I needed some way to describe the soft effect created by long exposures of moving water, and the adjective cottony came into my mind.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 29, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      • I was interested in this, too, so thanks for explaining. While I do try the long exposure thing (as I’m not so adept at it), I agree it’s now a cliche. I much prefer what you’ve done here, which gives a remarkable sense of flow while retaining the detail.

        Susan Scheid

        September 30, 2013 at 8:21 PM

  2. I’ve always enjoyed “live” water more than still waters, no matter how deep those still waters may run. A waterfall, river or heavily-swelled ocean is more appealing to me than a placid bay, lake or pond, and your photo of this falls captures that liveliness perfectly.

    I especially like the layering – first the rock, then the algae, then the water. It gives the photo a real depth.


    September 29, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    • Because of the underlying rock strata, this waterfall was markedly stepped: call it a ziggurat among waterfalls.

      The paradox of cottony-looking water is that although it appears smooth and may suggest stillness, we still know that the water was moving, and perhaps even moving quickly; the long exposure creates a smoothness that wasn’t there in reality. In any case, I’m glad the “roughness” of this water appeals to you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2013 at 10:54 AM

  3. Refreshing! I’m with Shoreacres again, much preferring active water to placid water, and this feeds that taste wonderfully.


    September 29, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    • And by coincidence we had a good rainfall in my part of Austin late last night; I hope you got a similar dousing in north Texas (and Shoreacres near the coast). Creeks should be flowing again for a while, hooray. Maybe I’ll go out and hunt some “active water,” as you put it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      • Yes, we were delighted to get (albeit briefly) a good bit of rain too. My shaggy little wildflower meadow out back already looks happier today for it.


        September 29, 2013 at 8:30 PM

  4. Amazing photos of falling water. You were able to catch the fall with such clarity the water appears to be frozen.

    Mary Mageau

    September 30, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    • That’s the virtue of a high shutter speed, Mary; it can catch action that’s too quick for our unaided eyes. People who live in colder climates get the chance to photograph real ice formations, something I rarely get to do in central Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2013 at 9:20 PM

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