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Apr 18, 2019
I headed to South Carolina on April 2 for a two-week trip to work with a team of photographers shooting the Bassmaster Elite Series stops at Lake Hartwell and Winyah Bay. Each professional bass-fishing tournament requires me to be on the water for four days capturing all the action — but the three days between the events are mine to do what I'd like.
Of course, that means I looked for opportunities to capture amazing fine-art photographs for my gallery. As the first Elite Series event wound down, I pulled up my trusty Really Good Photo Spots App to see what was near the Lake Hartwell area, and discovered there were waterfalls in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains less than an hour away.
Well, what choice did I have?
The forecast was for rain, but I decided I would just go and do what I could. Honestly, the best times to shoot waterfalls is when the sun is obscured by clouds because it lowers the light and evens it out. So there aren't any harsh shadows with which to contend.
My first stop was Eastatoe Falls, a waterfall I had never heard about. The map said it was just 40 miles away, so off I went hoping to beat the rain. The map lied about its exact location, but it got me close. I stopped and asked a local resident about the waterfall, and he directed me right to it.
Estatoe Falls is actually on private land outside of Rosman, N.C., but the landowner welcomes visitors. A small parking lot behind the house is available, and a well-maintained trail leads visitors to the waterfall a short couple of minutes away.
And, man, was it worth tracking down. Eastatoe Falls includes all kinds of tiers, and water tumbles 75 feet to the shallow pool below. It was just wonderful.
I began working, and grabbed a few shots before the first rains hit. And it wasn't sprinkling. Instead of giving up, I hid my camera gear under a rock outcropping and ran back to my truck to retrieve a 60-inch golf umbrella under which I continued to work. I'm so glad I did.
Next, I headed to Brevard, N.C., really with the intention to move on to my final destination of Georgetown, S.C., for the second Elite Series tournament. It was raining pretty heavily, so I figured my day of shooting was over. However, while drinking coffee at a small cafe the rains subsided and I pulled out my app again.
Looking Glass Falls was a short drive away, so I jumped into the truck and headed out. It was sprinkling when I arrived, but I simply worked under the umbrella to capture the beauty of the amazing waterfall.
On my way up, I ran into photographer Brian Mulder (who turned out to be from Canada) and he chuckled at me juggling the umbrella and my camera equipment. He even took a photo of me, which I'm waiting to receive. We struck up a conversation, and soon exchanged contacts — and extended invites to our backyards for photos. That's one of the things I love about this gig: Meeting new people who share the same passion as I do for capturing amazing photos.
Again, I headed down the road with the intention of driving straight to the Lowcountry. But I couldn't help peeking at the app to see if anything else of interest was nearby. Hooker Falls showed up — right down the road.
So on I went. The Hooker Falls Access area sits along Little River, and provides access to three waterfalls. After speaking with an angler who was loading up at the parking lot, I decided to make the quarter-mile hike to Triple Falls, which can be seen at the top of this page. When I reached the overlook, my jaw dropped. The river was roaring over three sequential waterfalls that simply took my breath away.
And then the bottom fell out of the clouds. I huddled under a nearby canopy as the rains deluged the area until the downpour broke. I then hurried down the staircase to capture a great image of the upper two falls before moving back to the overlook and snapping a view of the entire staircase. It was raining again as I packed up, but there are other scenes to be shot at this location.
That ended my waterfall photography blast, but it didn't end my work. Two days later, I worked up a photo gallery of the area for Bassmaster.com, showing off all the things the Georgetown, S.C., area has to offer. I spent most of my time right in the amazing little town, affectionately known as "Little Charleston" showing off the cool downtown district, the old homes and oak tree-canopied streets.
But one place about an hour away caught my eye: Biggins Church Ruins. As a history buff, I saw just enough to intrigue me, so off I went. There are just two walls standing from the original building, which was build in 1761. As with most churches in the area, it is surrounded by a cemetery, so it provided some cool photo opportunities.
The next four days were spent on a boat, shooting bass-fishing pros in action. It was so much fun, and all the photo galleries can be seen here.
My trip home was grueling, starting right after the final weigh-in about 4:15 p.m. and ending when I reached my home at 11:30 a.m. the next day. I stopped only to fuel up, grab a bite to eat for dinner and breakfast, and grab a couple of hours of sleep in my back seat.
But the trip was so much fun, and the images I captured worth every bit of sleep I missed.
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