Unseasonable. We use this term to describe the weather all the time. “We’ve had an unseasonably warm fall, or spring, or winter, or summer.” I think the term gets thrown out all the time to help explain weather issues we otherwise have no way to justify. Most of the time, I think, it’s just normal weather. However, this past winter we had an unseasonably brutal winter, for northern California…in as long as I can remember anyway.
That being said, the weather doesn’t stop photography, and in most cases can help make it more memorable. I met a group of eager photographers on Friday night in Mount Shasta City for orientation on what was hoped to be a fun weekend of photography in one of the most beautiful parts of California.
The weather looked grim for our first day with a 90% chance of rain for the entire day, and low-level clouds hanging over the majestic mountain. With the chance of seeing Mt Shasta so low, we opted to spend the day chasing some of the many waterfalls in the area and they were all flowing at an unseasonably high level.
We hit up Hedge Creek Falls first, which typically at this time of the year is barely a trickle, limply falling over the basalt cliffs. This year it was a great curtain of water, which made for some really nice images. Our group shot from both sides of the waterfall, and this is one of the falls where you are able to walk behind the falls, so a few people opted to take photos from behind the falls too. It was nice to see this little gem flowing so well. From there we set off to Faery Falls, another little out-of-the-way waterfall near Mount Shasta. I’ve been to this falls numerous times in my life, and this was the most water I’ve ever seen coming over the top. It looked like an entirely different waterfall. It was spectacular. Bits of the sun had started to pop through the clouds, so exposures were a little tricky, but the group made the most of it, and worked to find the few spots where the mist wasn’t totally impossible to deal with.
After a break, we set off for our final spot of the night. Middle McCloud Falls, is one of the best in the area. This large curtain falls is one of the most picturesque falls in the area. Due to the extreme weather the past few months, the ross to the falls was still gated up, leaving us with a little more than a mile walk each way to the falls. Walking was something we did a lot of on this day, totaling almost 11 miles. The sun again was dancing in and out of the clouds, so exposures were a little tricky, but everyone made the best of it, and we came away with some wonderful memories. The higher-than-normal water flow did a great job of wiping out a lot of the log jams and debris that is normally here, creating some really clean lines, and images.
While we had some grand plans for sunset, the mountain was still not playing nice, and everyone was pretty tired from the aforementioned 11 miles of walking, so we packed it in a little early and everyone got a good night's sleep.
The next morning we awoke earlier and set off at 4:30 am for our first location, Trout Lake. Today we were joined by a member of the forest service who was doing some monitoring of public land use. We had a good time getting to converse with him on our trip and learning more about how the forest service interacts with different users of the area.
Thankfully a lot of the weather had blown out during the night, and we could see the faint details of the mountain as we pulled into the Trout Lake area. I love this lake because it offers up one of the best views of the mountain, and the lake usually has some great reflections, and the view from the north side typically has less cloud cover than views from the south or west.
Sunrise was awesome, with pastel pinks, and some light hitting the tops of the peak. I pointed out a few different compositional ideas, and everyone enjoyed the morning light and the chance to be out of the rain. The remainder of the morning we spent driving the Little Shasta area looking at some cool old barns, and a little church that all helped make for some different compositions of the mountain.
Because we started so early, it was time to head back to the hotel, drop off our new forest service friend, and take a much-needed break. We reconvened at 1 pm for some time on the computers looking over images and working using Lightroom and Photoshop. It’s always fun to see what everyone came up with and help them make the most of the images.
For our afternoon we set off to Burney Falls SP, to look at another one of the north state’s massive waterfalls. Like the others, this one was flowing at higher than normal water levels, creating a lot of mist at the bottom, but everyone was able to get shots from the trail and top vantage points to show the nearly 100 different individual ribbons of water that comprise this massive flow.
From Burney, we made the pretty drive west to Redding, to see the Sundial Bridge and photograph something a little different. Scattered clouds, and a storm on the horizon, made for some dramatic weather. Our group managed to get a bunch of different angles of the bridge and were in the process of waiting for twilight so the lights would get turned on, but the security guard informed us that they had not come on the previous night, and would likely not come on this evening as well, so we decided to wrap up and pack it in.
Overall mother nature threw us some crazy weather, and we made the most of all of it! Everyone came away with many images they really liked, which is always the goal.
Thanks to everyone for enduring the weather and being a lot of fun!
Until next time,
Brian and the rest of the Aperture Academy Team.
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