My recent photo trip to Georgia

Starr's Mill, Panther Creek Falls and an old Ford pickup provide awesome photo opps

One of my clients is, for which I serve on a team that shoots photos for all Elite Series and Open fishing tournaments. That keeps me on the road — a lot. That means I have opportunities to explore the countryside as I travel from one tournament to another.

During one such trip from Florida to Buford, Ga., I turned off the interstate and spent time exploring the rural landscape. And found some absolutely wonderful photo opportunities.

Less than five minutes from the interstate exit, I passed an old wooden barn and glanced in my truck's rearview mirror and saw the front of an old pickup truck. I almost slammed on the brakes. A quick U-turn and I was parked on the side of the road and digging out my tripod.

An old 1940s Ford pickup truck was tucked inside an old barn in rural Georgia. The classic pickup truck is covered in rust, but much of the original blue paint still shows through.Angles and framing are important in any photograph, and I set up so the grill of the 1940s Ford pickup was pointing almost directly at the camera. A 14mm lens exaggerated the lines of the stylish truck while allowing the barn to act as a frame. It was perfect.

The resulting image shows the amazing detail of the old Ford that was showing signs of its age. Rust covered some areas, but there was still a large amount of the original blue paint showing through. It's just a beautiful look at a classic automotive design.

I then used the Really Good Photo Spot app to see what else was available in the region, and one of the first locations to pop up was Starr's Mill about an hour south of Atlanta. I instantly knew I wanted to stop at the old mill, but I wanted to wait until it was dark to captured a unique image.

On the way there, I spent a few minutes at Auchumpkee Creek Bridge outside Salem, Ga. The covered bridge dates to 1892 and measures 120 feet, 9 inches. The old wooden bridge made the perfect sepia-toned photo.

The sun was setting by the time I headed north to the little town of Starrs Mill. And it was dead dark when I arrived. In fact, I had trouble finding the old mill because there were no lights illuminating the building and waterfall — which was perfect for my purposes.

I was prepared for such a shoot, with three LED panels and light stands. I set up one light to light up the waterfall, with the other two used to illuminate the beautiful red mill that was built in 1907 and used as a grist mill and electrical generation station for the nearby town. 

Properly illuminating the waterfall and the structure required featuring the lights to balance the scene. A used a slow shutter speed to both ensure a proper exposure and to produce a smooth flow of water. An added bonus was that the rocks in the foreground water can be clearly seen.

After securing that photo, I drove on to Buford, Ga., and checked into a hotel about midnight. But I already was thinking about the next day's shoot. The Atlanta suburb is located just an hour from North Georgia's waterfall country.

A quick Google search the next morning revealed the perfect candidate: Panther Creek Falls. The beautiful waterfall is located near Stabler, Ga., is a multi-tiered beauty. The trail is just three miles long, but it is a bit of a challenge. Not a trial I'd call difficult, but you'll definitely break a sweat in certain portions of the walk.

The payoff is worth the effort.

Be sure to watch this video to learn what mistakes I made when I made the hike. It proved to be one of the most trying hikes of my life back to the my truck - all because of my lack of preparation.