Earlier this week I had gotten back from Seattle, WA on business. I had actually not gone downtown as much as I thought I would. Instead, I went on hikes to scope out the local waterfalls. The conditions were excellent, since it was the nicest part of the year in this region, and we would always arrive at the trail head during the golden hour(s).
The first stop was Snoqualmie Falls. After parking in the nicely paved lot, we walked just tens of yards on the sidewalk to the observation deck that provided a panoramic view of the curtain-form waterfall. The water roared 268' down into the Snoqualmie River. There were two decks, and from the slightly lower one, a rainbow revealed itself through the spray. I had my polarizer on and it took me a minute to realize I had to turn it until the rainbow made its way through the lens. The challenge was finding a balanced exposure between the waterfall and the mountainside. With the sun at a low angle, it directly illuminated the scene, and the luminance between the waterfall and its surroundings was larger than I thought it would be; it's nice that a D-SLR can provide immediate feedback. My original approach was to spot meter the mountainside at +0.5EV, ISO 200, and 1/125s in shutter priority mode. After evaluating that shot, I switched to manual and stopped down the aperture from F5.6 to F8.0 to "soak" in more detail from the waterfall. Although the white water was still a little more "washed out" for my liking, I experimented with a ±2 stop high dynamic range image (HDRI), stabilized on my tripod. Rather than using an HDR technique to create something surreal, I typically use it to capture the subtle details that the camera sometimes fails to capture. Those subtleties oftentimes complete the photo. Next hike...Twin Falls!