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Feb 22, 2021
My Waterfalls Collection is packed with amazing photos of beautiful falls from around the country. Each of those photos brings back memories I cherish. However, I do have some favorites.
Here are my Top 5 favorite waterfalls, along with a bonus addition to the list!
This Tennessee waterfall (shown above) makes the list for two reasons: First, it’s just gorgeous, and second I shared the experience of capturing it with my wife.
We were on a working vacation to celebrate the end of another busy Bassmaster travel season in December 2020 when we saw a little sign that read “Waterfalls” while beginning to hike the Clemmer Trail. We immediately headed down the side trail, and we were not disappointed.
Water tumbled through a slit in the rock ledge and dropped into a dark, calm pool surrounded by granite rock. The hint of golden light through the trees in the background just added to the wonder of the scene.
The tiered flow of water adds so much interest to this beautiful print!
I also love the fact that my wife was with me when I found this great Smoky Mountains waterfall.
This is actually the first of two back-to-back waterfalls, but I like this print the best. I have been told there are more falls farther back on Rock Creek, so I’ll be back to explore the area more.
I had never heard of Little River Canyon National Preserve before the fall of 2020, when I was in Alabama for a Bassmaster Elite Series event. After wrapping up the event, I had a couple of days to kill before my next event, and I was looking online for waterfalls.
This national preserve is delightful, but the highlight of my first trip there was climbing into the canyon and picking my way to the base of Little River Falls. There were people clambering along the top of the ledge, so I had to wait for them to move out of sight, but that only provided me time to sit and enjoy the beauty of the waterfall.
Finally, with the top of the waterfall clear of tourists, I created this wonderful photo. That emerald green water of the pool with the huge monolith of stone really draws this print together!
I also put Little River Canyon National Preserve on my list to return for more exploration.
Sometimes a waterfall just takes your breath away. That’s exactly what I experienced during my first and (thus far) only trip to Colorado in October 2019 when I clambered out of the car and walked to the overlook of North Clear Creek Falls.
To be honest, I wasn’t even planning to take a photo because the sun was directly overhead without a cloud in the sky. Normally, I avoid waterfall photos in these conditions.
However, when I stepped onto the overlook, I gasped. Literally.
Water tumbled more than 100 feet into a gorge, with the expanse of the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. It’s just stunningly beautiful.
And the lighting was perfect with no harsh shadows on the water to create photographic troubles. I almost ran back to collect my gear and start shooting.
I composed the scene to include the valley from which the waterfall spews and the aspen-strewn mountains in the distance.
The print turned out perfect!
So this was an accidental photo, an unexpected bonus after I finished shooting another waterfall just up the creek.
I was driving through the Nantahala National Forest east of the gorgeous Tellico River in Tennessee when I heard a waterfall through my open window. I pulled onto the scant shoulder of the service road, shouldered my camera bag and headed down the side of the mountain to investigate.
A beautiful waterfall soon came into view, and I spent a few minutes documenting it. Satisfied I had a great print in the making, I wandered downstream to admire the creek, and I could swear I heard another rush of water that usually signals a waterfall.
However, sounds bouncing off the mountains often plays tricks, so I almost ignored the sound and headed back to the truck.
Luckily I allowed intuition to drive me farther downstream, where I saw this amazing waterfall!
The way the water bounces off that diagonal rock face and the autumn colors of the leaves littering the banks of the stream just blow me away every time I look at this print!
This amazing print has everything required to be a favorite. It’s got wonderful color. It includes a tall spray of water. It includes wonderful framing, with the pile of boulders and the sweeping rock ledge drawing the eye right to the waterfall. And it’s a location that is special to me because it brings back memories of childhood trips to Georgia’s Cloudland Canyon State Park.
Cloudland Canyon includes a couple of great waterfalls that are best viewed in the spring after winter rains swell Daniel Creek. However, I had only visited the park during summer vacations when the creek was a mere trickle.
So when I was finished working the Bassmaster Classic in March 2020, I decided to get up early and make a two-hour detour on my trip home. There had been rains in the area, and I was confident I would find a Cloudland Canyon much changed from my childhood memories.
When I pulled into the parking lot atop the 1,000-foot-deep canyon, I could hear the roar of water as soon as I turned off my truck. I couldn’t get geared up quick enough.
The falls are located at the bottom of the canyon, hundreds of steps down a trail. It’s a grueling hike, but the sounds of the waterfalls pushed me forward.
After pretty much jogging down the series of steps, I rounded the bend in the trail to Cherokee Falls and stopped in my tracks. The sight was just magnificent, and I was rooted in place listening to the roar of water and taking in the scene.
The best part is that I arrived early enough to have the waterfall all to myself.
I finally forced myself into action, and carefully examined the area to determine the best composition. I love to include strong foreground elements in my prints, so I set up to include those boulders in the bottom corner.
I added a neutral density filter to my wide-angle lens to slow down my shutter speed and enhance the flow of the water over the edge, and “Cloudland Canyon Serenity” is result.
The title of the print comes from the sense of peace I felt standing at the base of Cherokee Falls that March morning, just a week before the Covid-19 shutdown began.
Yeah, "Cloudland Canyon Serenity" rises to the top of my list.
Why is this print of Great Gully Waterfall not in the main Top 5 list? Namely because I couldn’t decide where to put it.
However, it is absolutely one of my favorites.
I was in the Finger Lakes region of New York in 2019 to help cover a Bassmaster Elite Series event, and I kept passing a sign that read “Great Gully Waterfall” on my way to and from the venue.
I was joined at the final weigh-in of the bass-fishing tournament by Houston photographer Jeremy Mancuso, and after I was finished with my work we headed to investigate the waterfall.
Reaching the falls requires tramping up Great Gully Creek for more than a mile, crossing the waterway a couple of times.
It was worth the effort.
I shot what I thought was the best angle, and actually packed up my gear for the hike out. However when I walked around those trees and saw the wonderful root systems snaking atop the dirt I knew I wasn't finished working.
Out came my equipment again, and I composed the scene so the prominent roots acted as lines drawing the eye to the waterfall int he background.
It’s just a lovely print, and working the waterfall with a good friend makes it a special memory.
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