Bash Bish Falls
By John Haywood
Although Bash Bish Falls lies just over the Massachusetts border, we still include it with our New York waterfalls due to the close proximity and fact that there is access to the falls from a parking lot and trail located in New York.
This 60-foot cascade has a distinct appearance as Bash Bish Brook becomes split by a large rock that resembles a horn. The water falls into a large pool where, although there are signs telling visitors no swimming, is frequented by swimmers and sunbathers in the Summer.
On this day, the weather was not being cooperative and even downright fierce at times. There was heavy rain and the wind was blowing debris from trees. I considered not going but looked at the weather radar and decided to take advantage of the opportunity with high water and great lighting for photography.
“Sometimes photographing a waterfall isn’t about the waterfall.”
When I got to the parking area on the New York side, the rain had mostly subsided and the wind wasn’t too bad. Walking along the trail I saw an endless supply of small limbs and leaf bunches that had been blown down. As I continued along, I took note of the many spots along the brook where I used to play in the water as a child. While the trail is the direct route to the falls, visitors can follow the brook for a distance, but not all the way to the falls. There are several nice pools that really show off the clear, bluish water.
When I got to the falls, the wind was still blowing a bit but the rain was holding off. I was pleased with the light as the clouds had thinned some to allow an evenly diffused light rather than a heavy, dark overcast. I set up at the top near the railing and snapped a couple photos from that view point then headed down the steps to be level with the falls. I didn’t want to lose the light so I hurried down.
Once at the bottom, I set up my tripod and added a polarizer to my lens. I checked my ISO setting to make sure it was at the lowest setting, and then attached my wired remote shutter release. I took a moment to look around and chose my shot. Sometimes photographing a waterfall isn’t about the waterfall.
I found a few spots where I could include some foreground as well as the outlet of the pool. I looked behind me from one of the spots and was reminded that caution is paramount as it was where I lost a camera, and almost myself, years ago when I slipped on a wet rock near the edge of the brook.
I had three spots where I set up and made photographs. I used the polarizer for all to reduce the glare from the wet rock and offer deeper colors. On the last two, I attached a 1.2 neutral density filter on top of the polarizer to give me a slower shutter with the added benefit of the polarizer. When doing this, you have to be mindful of the vignette on the four corners of the final image. If you shoot at the widest zoom, this will occur. Zooming in a bit will prevent this.
Given the lighting, I wanted to create a moody photograph. I was also shooting with a black and white image in mind and this moody look would be perfect for my vision. I wanted to get a smokey look to the water so I used a shutter speed of four seconds with an aperture of f22 for the first and the second setting was six second at f22. I also did a few at fast shutter speeds but I really wanted to capture the mood for the final image I had in mind. In framing the scene, I wanted to find a spot where I could include some of the green in the foreground as well as some of the rock to tell the story of the geology there.
In the end, I got my shot and was very happy wit the mood I captured.
ISO – 100
Aperture – f22
Exposure bias – 0
Focal Length – 27mm
Other – Circular polarizer, 1.2 neutral density filter
The final image –
For more information on Bash Bish Falls, click here.
For more information about waterfall photography, please visit our “Photographing Waterfalls” article.
The Shooting the Falls series is designed to serve as a “how-to” article and also give perspective into the photography of waterfalls.