Sunday Afternoon at Inks Lake

I have been waiting for a decent day to go back out to Inks Lake and try shooting the little waterfall. There is a stream that travels over a lot of rocks getting down to the lake. When it hasn’t rained for a while, it can get down to a trickle, but we have had plenty of rain over the last month so I wanted to check it out.

Inks Lake State Park is about 50 minutes’ drive from my house, so it is a nice place to spend a Sunday afternoon. There is the lake, of course, camping areas, and hiking trails.


Going up the hiking trail to the waterfall, I took photos of an interesting looking plant and some fish in the shallow water. There were a lot of fish.


Once you climb over a granite rise, you come down to the stream and the little waterfall. The hike is not too bad, though you may have to climb around a few boulders here and there. In the summer this area is crowded, but I figured on a Sunday afternoon when most people would be home having a Super Bowl party, I might have this place mostly to myself. There were a few people around, but they didn’t loiter around the waterfall, so I got to try several ideas.

I started with a telephoto to experiment with perspective. This allowed me to be up the hill a bit shooting down to the waterfall. The below image was taken at 70mm focal length, which is not quite telephoto but it is the composition I was mostly happy with.

Waterfall at Inks Lake State Park Texas
Nikon D750 + Sigma 70-200mm, f/2.8; 70mm, f/14, 8s, ISO100

I probably should have moved the camera just a little to the left so that I didn’t clip the striped boulder in the foreground. More with that later.

One thing that I ran in to quickly was an issue with sunlight hitting the viewfinder. I was shooting with the sun at my back and when I moved to the side, there was mostly direct sunlight hitting the view finder on the back of the camera. So, even with the mirror up, there was enough light bleed to ruin my image (see below).


My solution to this problem was to get out my rain hood and drape that over the camera while shooting and that worked quite well. It is something to be aware of when shooting on a bright day.

I then climbed down closer to the falls on rocks that were sometimes slippery. I was trying to get some defined grooves or texture in the granite for a foreground, but I don’t think I was very successful. There were also some interesting colors on the sides of these rocks that I thought might work well. The image below if from down by the water. The rocks in the foreground get really slippery.

Waterfall at Inks Lake State Park Texas
Nikon D750 + 24-120mm, f/4; 35mm, f/13, 8s, ISO100

I do like all of the texture lines on the granite across the water as they seem to be traveling in a consistent direction toward the water. And some of the colors on the foreground rocks shows up in the lower right of the frame.

I also took a few close ups from down on the water’s edge (shown below). The first image is from down low and I raised the camera for the second shot.

Waterfall at Inks Lake State Park Texas
Nikon D750 + 24-120mm, f/4; 100mm, f/13, 8s, ISO100
Close up of Waterfall at Inks Lake State Park Texas
Nikon D750 + 24-120mm, f/4; 110mm, f/13, 20s, ISO100

I like the bright iridescent green in the waterfall reflecting the sunlight. I have been down on these rocks before and they are very slippery with moss. It’s like walking on oil and any landing will be a hard landing.

This was all shot using a 10-stop ND filter. Even dialing the aperture down to f/13 I was only getting 20 second exposures. I really didn’t want to drive the aperture down much lower than that as I was afraid of losing sharpness. In hindsight, I could have stacked a 6-stop filter on top of this.

I finally decided on the following composition as the best as I wanted the banded boulder in the foreground. I also wanted some blue sky reflected in the water.

Close up of Waterfall at Inks Lake State Park Texas
Nikon D750 + 24-120mm, f/4; 24mm, f/13, 20s, ISO100

I really like the foreground boulder. In hindsight, it would be nice if the camera had been elevated a bit to get some separation of the boulder from the background. It was a bit tough seeing the screen on the back of the camera in the bright sunlight.

I climbed up over a granite rise that overlooks the lake to scout the lower part of this stream. The stream winds through a lot of rocks before getting into the lake and I climbed around looking for the perfect vantage point to capture this.


I conclude that I needed to hover about 10 feet up and over to my left to get what I wanted. The background water is blocked by a tree. I was on the edge of the cliff and couldn’t get any farther to the left. So, maybe there is nothing for me in this location.

There is a perfect place to catch a sunset from up there, but I didn’t think that there would be much of a sunset worth waiting around for. The clouds were bunching up on the horizon and would probably block the setting sun. By the time I got home and the sun was about to set, the sky was a dark gray, so I don’t think I missed anything. The photo below looks west over the lake.

Inks Lake State Park Texas from the cliffs

I’ll come back to this location for a sunset. I have a Texas state parks pass, so I can get in without a fee anytime I like.

Thanks for reading.


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6 thoughts on “Sunday Afternoon at Inks Lake

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