Father’s Day was nice and I scheduled the afternoon to go hiking at Colorado Bend State Park. Colorado Bend is quite a drive from Austin, so tends to be less crowded than the areas closer to the city. There is little to no cell service out there, which is an added benefit, and there are no real towns close by. It is a good sized park on the river and it is full of hiking trails, so just what I was looking for.
My first destination in the park was a hike down to Gorman Falls. From the parking area, this is about 1.2 miles of rocky hike. The trail ends in a rather steep and slippery descent to the bottom of the falls. There is a cable fence along the steepest part to hang on to, so most people can make it. The photo below is taken from the viewing area and you can see the path up the rocks on the right side of the frame.
The viewing area at the bottom of the falls is shaded and a nice relief from the sun. There is a platform with benches to sit upon and rest beneath the trees. Or you can keep going a short bit farther down the trail and jump in the Colorado River as many people do. But I came down here to see and photograph the waterfall and for the most part I had the place to my self.
The waterfall is very wide and much of it is obscured by trees. It is not possible to take it all in with a single photo so I focused a few different viewpoints. The first photo is pointing just to the left of the path in the photo above. I tried to get the stream and small water falls cascading from the upper right to the lower left and I was hoping that the bright sunlight at the far end would give the scene some depth. As you can see the plants really love it down here and are quite dense.
I did a different take on this scene standing farther back with a longer focal length (44mm below vs. 14mm above). I like the below photo because you get a better view of the more distant cascades and texture on the cliff-face, but I think that it lacks the depth and lead-in of the top one. I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to post, so I posted both. What do you think?
One interesting feature that you see under the falls is the mossy green rocks. The shapes of the rocks often look like faces of green creatures to me.
Looking up through the trees, you can see the water falling down the cliffs in several places. It is really hard to take the entire thing in as there is so much foliage concealing the falls and you really aren’t suppose to hop the fence and climb down to the stream at the bottom.
In the photo above I had a problem with white balance between the shaded areas beneath the trees and the high branches in direct sun where the leaves looked a little blue. This is part of the problem with cameras having digital eyes and not human eyes. I warmed those parts of the image up to look a bit more real. There is also a lot of leaf blur high up in the trees and this was a difficult subject to photograph from a dynamic range standpoint.
I spent a lot time in this area enjoying the shade and the waterfall. I was about to head back up the rocks when I decided to take a last look from a ledge near the cable fence, and I saw that the sun had reached a position such that it was creating a rainbow in part of the waterfall. So, I had to get my camera and tripod back out to shoot this.
Rainbows really aren’t very bright and it can be a bit difficult to get them to show up well in a photo, but I worked on it Lightroom. I masked and saturated the rainbow and adjusted the luminance of some of the colors. I also desaturated the rest of the image some as the greens were over-powering the rainbow. What do you think of my final edited photo?
The afternoon sun versus the shade made my waterfall photos all very high contrast. I think that I would like to come back to this spot on a morning with the entire waterfall in shade, and maybe get a more peaceful image without the extreme contrasts.
At last I packed up my gear and made the climb up the rocks. It’s not as bad as it looks.
I made a few more hikes before it got dark. Connected to the Gorman Falls trail is the Tie Slide Overlook trail that goes up to a platform overlooking the river.
This platform gives you a really nice view down the river and seems like a good place for a sunrise, if you don’t mind the pre-dawn hike up the rocks. It’s really not a bad hike and there isn’t near the climbing needed for the Gorman Falls hike. It was a puffy cloud afternoon that looks like summer to me. I think that everything you see in the picture is part of the state park and you can see that the Colorado does, in fact, bend here. In the distance, about where the river bends out of site, is the Gorman Falls area for reference.
I also did the Tinaja Trail, which involves a lot of climbing and I was hoping for good sunset conditions from up there, but there wasn’t anything to bother with photographing. I made it back to the car at dark and felt good and exhausted. A great father’s day for me.