What was I thinking?

So, one of the images in my slide collection is seen, full-frame, at left – this is the small cascade of a feeder stream that leads into Window Falls at Hanging Rock State Park, North Carolina. And yes, it appears I didn’t concentrate on keeping the camera level.

Now, I’m not sure this is really the case. When taking long exposures of running water, they can be deceptive. Water splashing sideways – in other words, seeing the cascade from an angle rather than dead on – can appear to be leaning when it all blurs together, and the rock strata can certainly be layered at an angle since uplift and tilting occur frequently. I do occasionally miss leveling the camera perfectly, even on a tripod, but this is a bit extreme. And I don’t remember inducing the angle intentionally to cut across the frame or make a tilted composition.

The trees in the background are no help at all – they support both ideas, since some of them obviously are leaning significantly. I’m just not sure which ones. The series of slides that I took all feature this vantage and angle, since I only changed the zoom setting for the other shots. That’s one of the things that supports the idea that this image is not leaning, since I can see taking one image at a “creative” angle, but not a series. By the way, this is another reminder to take multiple images of a subject, using the zoom and different shooting angles or perspectives to appreciate the possibilities a subject might provide.

Ah, but wait! I have another frame from further back that shows the cascade in the background with some helpful people standing nearby! That should answer the question.

Or maybe not. The women (I don’t know them) aren’t really supporting either angle, and when I tried tilting the image to see which angle looks most accurate, either one works. The woman on the left has her back arched, possibly against leaning forward, while the woman on the right could be leaning to see around the outcropping. The rock strata makes things even worse. The foliage seems to be supporting the original angle from above, but since this is a mountaintop, it could be leaning over from winds and erosion at the edge of this cut. While the top image was definitely taken on a tripod, this one was likely shot freehand candidly. This image was really no help at all. Maybe gravity is all messed up – I seem to recall this happening in various places around the world…

(Please don’t comment to correct me on the various gravity “anomaly” tourist traps – that was tongue-in-cheek.)

I’m now almost bugged by this enough to have to return and confirm just what angle this landscape sits at, maybe shooting a plumb line just for proof. Anyone that wants to clarify this issue should feel free to help me out – this is at the top of Window Falls, hiding behind the little porthole in the rock that can be seen from the finished trail – that’s what the one woman is taking a photo of, but I’m edge-on to it here. It’s only mildly tricky footing to reach this point off-trail. I have no idea of actual compass direction, but supposing that I’m facing 0° (North) with both of these images, Window Falls sits behind me to the right, traveling over the lip facing roughly 120°.

Or maybe I can get my buddy to chime in, since he was there too and has his own images. October 29, 2005 if it helps, dude ;-)

UPDATE: He bit ;-). JL Kramer was also present for this trip, and took his own pics of the same cascade, seen here at left. We see that I did indeed have the camera tilted, just not half as much as it appears. Kramer’s photo matches the angle that I have in the second pic (but has a much nicer composition than my first – the foreground rock is a great element,) so it appears I wasn’t meticulous about leveling the camera. I’m not terribly surprised – there was nothing to align it against or with nearby, but still…

Notice the tree trunk at top, just right of center. This was essentially growing at the top of a huge break in the rock strata that defines this section of Hanging Rock, and may have been leaning from either erosion or the wind, or both. The notch that this cascade sits within is part of a jumbled mess that, only a few meters to the right, drops off suddenly to create a gorge, and the cliff that Window Falls tumbles over. As falls go, Window Falls isn’t remarkable, but the nearby Upper and Lower Cascades are a bit better. I’d love to see them in freezing weather, but the trails to reach them would become so treacherous that I’m almost positive park access is denied during such conditions.

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