by Alan Trammel
2020 was an incredibly vibrant fall season in western North Carolina and I was very fortunate to see those colors first hand on a 4-day excursion to Brevard.
Known as the “Land of Waterfalls” the Brevard area is home to more than 250 waterfalls.
- Nikon D750 x2
- Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF
- Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED (non VR)
- Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED
- Kirk L-Bracket
- MeFOTO Globe Trotter Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod
- Cokin Z-Pro Series Filter Holder
- Cokin Z-Pro Series Filter Holder Adapter Ring (77mm)
- Singh-Ray 100 x 150mm ND-3 Stop Filter
- Singh-Ray 100 x 150mm Galen Rowell ND-3G-SS Graduated Neutral Density Filter.
- MindShift Gear Backlight 26L Outdoor Adventure Camera Daypack Backpack
Looking Glass Falls is one of North Carolina’s most popular waterfalls because of it’s large size and ease of access. A classic waterfall beauty, it features a 60-ft. tall spilling waterfall cascading in a single picturesque drop. If you want great pictures get there early and plan to get wet!
Upper Whitewater Falls (Nantahala National Forest) is a stunningly beautiful, multi-drop cascading waterfall near Cashiers, North Carolina and the South Carolina state line. Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. The upper falls in North Carolina plunge an amazing 411 feet.
Crabtree Falls is located at Milepost 339.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway (about 45 miles north of Asheville) and is accessed by a woodland hiking trail. The 70-ft waterfall is definitely worth the 3-mile trek!
Dry Falls (Nantahala National Forest) is a popular waterfall located a few miles outside of Highlands, North Carolina. This 75-ft. waterfall flows over a cliff allowing you to walk behind the falls.
Jagged rocks, gnarled and twisted trees, sudden fog, high-elevation forest that lead to grassy summits with 360-degree views, Craggy Gardens is like stepping into another world.
Located just north of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway Craggy Gardens is a very popular hiking spot.
One of the most scenic routes in America the Blue Ridge Parkway runs from Virginia all the way to Cherokee, North Carolina.
With over 200 roadside scenic overlooks the parkway offers a plethora of opportunities for photography.
The 100-ft. tall Catawba Falls is located near Old Fort, 26 miles east of Asheville. (just three miles off I-40) The 3-mile hike (roundtrip) is a beautiful, photo rich trail as it follows the Catawba River with many small cascades along the way.
Catawba River (Chestnut Branch), one of the many smaller cascades along the way.
Behind the Scenes Photos & Tips
- If you want great waterfall photos you have to be willing to get wet.
- BE CAREFUL…those rocks are slippery.
- Use the self-timer release mode set to the shortest setting. Press the shutter button and take your hands away from the camera.
- Keep your gear on the ready. You don’t want to miss the photo-op of a lifetime because your gear is in the trunk.
- Bring plenty of clothing layers. Mountain conditions can change fast and be drastic.
- Bring plenty of water and HEALTHY snacks. Ditch the candy and energy bars full of processed sugar. Bring apples and nuts instead.
- If you can, get there early. Popular waterfalls can get really crowded by mid morning.
- Be patient. I had to wait for 15 minutes after setting up for a break in the selfie seekers.
- Get a quality backpack. Hauling around camera gear can be tiring. A cheap camera backpack will definitely send you to the chiropractor.
- I carry a pair of Tevas attached to my backpack to change into when going in the water.
- Reusable rubber twist ties like Nite Ize are great for attaching extra shoes or helping secure your tripod to your backpack.
- A small travel fan is a great way to dry out clothes and shoes back at the hotel.
- Too foggy for pictures? Just wait a few minutes. Fog can roll in and out quickly and make for a great photo.
- Invest in a quality L-bracket so you can leave your camera attached to your tripod with confidence while hiking.
- Pack light. Taking too many camera lenses cannot only get heavy but also hinder your growth as a photographer. My two go to lenses for landscapes are my Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and Nikon 20mm f/1.8.
- Take advantage of the viewfinder grid for composition. I leave mine on all the time.
- Keep plenty of lens cloths and wipes handy. Working in and around water is a magnet for drops of water ending up on your lens and filter sets.
- Know your camera and controls well. Standing in the middle of cold stream is not the time to be fumbling around your camera.
- Cargo pants with lots of pockets are great for quick access to items like lens cloths, extra batteries and lens caps.
- I really like quick dry expedition shirts with roll up sleeves.
- Last but not least…HAVE FUN!