Dull, Dismal and Dreary

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How’s that for an inviting blog post title? Mother Nature put a damper on most outdoor plans this past weekend. I had a full weekend of baseball planned and possibly some yard work, but the rains came and stayed around the entire weekend. The precipitation ranged from a steady pour to a light drizzle and sometimes a fine mist. Maybe it’s just me, but I find that fine mist to be an nuisance.  I would much rather be in a down pour than to have a constant light mist falling. There were moments when the rain stopped, but those brief breaks did not last long. The dreary weather was affecting my mood also. It was hard for me to get out of bed. Starting off on a dark and dreary morning knowing your plans were going to be cancelled setup a good case for me to just stay in bed. It almost worked as I hit the snooze button several times. I was fighting it because if I really wanted to sleep in, I would have turned off the alarm. After a few snoozes, I finally got up. Everyone else in my family was till sleeping including the animals, so I decided to grab the camera and take a drive on my favorite parkway.

If you were wondering, I don’t have weatherproof gear. Well, I do have one lens that is weatherproof, but my camera body is not. A weatherproof body will be definitely one of the features in my next upgrade. I figure I would either shoot from the car or get lucky with some breaks in the rain. Either way, I just wanted to venture out to view the landscapes under the dismal conditions.  In the back of my mind, I knew the water table was up. This means local river and streams would be channeling a lot of water which translates into waterfalls!

The particular waterfall I had in mind was Jackson Falls. Jackson Falls is located at mile post 404.7 on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Below is a snippet from the website and I believe this information is also on the sign at the falls.

A steep trail (concrete sidewalk) 900 feet long takes you to a clear pool at the base of these falls. This trail descends to Jackson Falls a beautifully sculptured cascade that seems ageless but it isn’t. For thousands of years before the falls existed Jackson Branch flowed into this high valley isolated from the Duck River below. Then in a classic case of stream piracy, the Duck River captured Jackson Branch. The flooding river and other erosional agents wore away at the bluffs, cutting a new channel through faults in the rock. At the site of Jackson Falls the diverted stream slips down into the Duck River Valley abandoning its former course.

Before we get to the waterfall, let’s talk about a popular overlook just East of Jackson Falls.  In fact, if you feel like a short hike, the waterfall and this overlook are connected by a trail. Otherwise, you can hop in your car for a short drive along the parkway. This overlook is called Baker Bluff Overlook. It’s located a mile post 405.1. I’ve visited this spot numerous times and I have taken numerous photos. The scene is always different and it is always beautiful. The overlook is provides a gorgeous view of farmland stretched across a landscaped of hills, ponds and trees. Depending on the time of year, you will find lush greenery, colorful foliage or a nakedness brought on by winter. You will find farm animals roaming the open fields. I love this vista because it just says, “Tennessee”. Well, there is not a lot of fanfare from my latest captures. There’s no sunset or sunrise light with a colorful sky. Despite the less than optimal conditions, there is still beauty in the mundane.

 

Baker Bluff Overlook – Natchez Trace Parkway (Tennessee) – Mile Post 405.1 – Olympus E520 / 14-54mm f2.8

 

I took the shot above on day 1 of my weekend drive on the parkway. I returned the next day and took the following shots under worse conditions.

 

Baker Bluff Overlook – Natchez Trace Parkway (Tennessee) – Mile Post 405.1 – Olympus E520 / 14-54mm f2.8

 

After taking the above shot I proceeded to Jackson Falls. I will share the waterfall pictures shortly, but below is a shot I took of the overlook after leaving the waterfall. I noticed that more fog was descending across the farmland, so I grabbed some additional shots. This time I used a different section of the fence to compose my foreground.

 

Baker Bluff Overlook – Natchez Trace Parkway (Tennessee) – Mile Post 405.1 – Olympus E520 / 14-54mm f2.8

 

Baker Bluff Overlook – Natchez Trace Parkway (Tennessee) – Mile Post 405.1 – Olympus E520 / 14-54mm f2.8

 

As you scroll through the overlook shots from day 1 to day 2, you can see how the weather got worse from day to day and hour to hour. My first day at the falls proved to be one of those worse times.

I got to the falls under a break in the rain. I grabbed my camera and tripod and then grabbed what would prove to be the most important gear of the day, my umbrella. I started my descent down to the waterfall just as rain drops started to fall. I passed an older couple making their way down to the falls also. The wind picked up and thunder started to rumble. Since I was well vested into this venture, I didn’t let the rain and thunder deter my mission. When I made it to the falls, I was glad to see that my hunch was correct. There was a great amount of water cascading over the cliff. I have seen more water in past visits, but this was not disappointing in the least. Speaking of lots of water, more water began to fall from the sky.  I saw my window of opportunity closing fast so I had to find a composition quickly. As soon as I had my camera mounted on the tripod, I opened up my umbrella. I adjusted my ball mount so that I had just the right amount of tension to operate the camera positioning with one hand while holding the umbrella with the other. I’m sure I looked kind of funny standing next to the stream with a umbrella trying to take a picture. I turned around to see if anyone was looking. I was all by myself. I guess the old couple that was on their way down to the falls decided to air on the side of caution. They are probably smarter than I. I finally took the shot below.

 

Jackson Falls – Natchez Trace Parkway (Tennessee) – Mile Post 404.7 – Olympus E520 / 14-54mm f2.8

 

I wanted to capture more perspectives, but the rain was a bit much. I tore down my gear and headed for the car. This outing reminded me of two items I need to purchase. I’ve mentioned one already, a weatherproof camera body. The second is some rain boots. The boots are not necessarily for rainy weather. They would be an essential part of my waterfall gear that will allow me to stand in the middle of a stream. I had better luck on day 2. I caught a break in the weather that allowed be to capture some different perspectives.

 

Jackson Falls – Natchez Trace Parkway (Tennessee) – Mile Post 404.7 – Olympus E520 / 14-54mm f2.8

 

Jackson Falls – Natchez Trace Parkway (Tennessee) – Mile Post 404.7 – Olympus E520 / 14-54mm f2.8

 

Jackson Falls – Natchez Trace Parkway (Tennessee) – Mile Post 404.7 – Olympus E520 / 14-54mm f2.8

 

Even though I caught a break in the weather for the waterfall shots, it did not last long. Rain started falling again when I left the waterfall. It turned from a hard rain to that fine mist I was talking about earlier. It didn’t matter at that point because I had my shots, but as I drove over the Duck River, I knew I had to get a shot of the swollen river. I pulled over just passed the bridge and walked with my camera tucked under my pullover back to the bridge. The resulting shots are below.

 

Duck River – Natchez Trace Parkway (Maury County, Tennessee Area) – Olympus E520 / 14-54mm f2.8

 

Duck River – Natchez Trace Parkway (Maury County, Tennessee Area) – Olympus E520 / 14-54mm f2.8

 

Duck River – Natchez Trace Parkway (Maury County, Tennessee Area) – Olympus E520 / 14-54mm f2.8

 

To give you a better understanding of just how much the level of the river changed, take a look at a shot I took a couple of years ago from a similar perspective. You will notice the shore line on the right in the picture below, but you don’t see that shore line in my pictures from this weekend. The following picture was shot with my Olympus OM1 on Kodak Portra 400.

 

Duck River – Natchez Trace Parkway (Maury County, Tennessee Area) – Olympus OM1 / 28mm f3.5 / The FINDlab

 

That last picture serves two purposes. The first is to show the change in the river and the second is to spice up this post with a little color and interesting light. This just goes to show that while your subjects can remain the same, your results can vary drastically. Thanks for reading!

 

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7 Responses

  1. aukje
    | Reply

    Lovely shots. When I shoot myself I also try to find the best light in early morning, with a nice sunset, but I really appreciate the greens in these. Without the spectacular sky, the green gets the chance to shine, and there is a calmness about them that is really nice. By the way: you are right about the boots, I love mine!

    • Travis
      Travis
      | Reply

      Thank you! I like the greens as well. I believe sometimes the best equipment are the things that allow you to go places where you normally can’t. Rain boots are on my short list!

  2. usathroughoureyes
    | Reply

    Great shots. Those skies gave way to some fantastic lighting. We’ve got to add this to a place to see and shoot.

    • Travis
      Travis
      | Reply

      Yes! You must put the Natchez Trace Parkway on your list. The parkway is a beautiful drive packed with history, scenic vistas and wildlife. I have not taken the entire drive from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi, but I hope to do that soon. Thanks for the comment!

      • usathroughoureyes
        | Reply

        Well you’ll need to stay tuned cuz one of these days we’ll be making the journey and you’ll be able to see it though our eyes that is unless you beat us to it, lol.

        • Travis
          Travis
          | Reply

          Whether I beat you or not, I still want to see it through your eyes!

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