Iguassu Falls, Brazil – Iguazu Falls, Argentina (Iguazú Falls)
There are more than 270 falls in an area where cliffs and islets are scattered in a half moon shape. In guarani language, the term “Iguazú” means “great waters”. It was discovered in 1541 by Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and established in 1984 as Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Brazilian spelling is Iguassu and the view from the Brazilian side is panoramic. Concrete walks start in front of the Hotel Das Cataratas and zig zag their way down until coming to the boardwalk that takes you to the end of Devil’s Throat for a view back into the “throat”.
The Spanish spelling is Iguazu and the view from the Argentine side is mainly “up-close and personal” with walks along the tops of the falls, along the bottom of the falls and to the very edge of the back of Devil’s Throat.The falls can be reached from the two main towns on either side of the falls: Foz do Iguaçu in the Brazilian state of Paraná, and Puerto Iguazú in the Argentine province of Misiones.
The climate of Foz do Iguaçu is sub-tropical, with two seasons; one humid and hot in the summer and another, dry and cool, in the winter. We were there in the winter month of July and the temperature was a perfect 70 degrees. A perfect break from the humid 110 degrees we have during the summer months in Texas.The city’s annual average temperature is 23.8°C (74.8°F), but can be as high as 47°C (117°F) in the summer (highest) or as low as -5°C (23°F) in the winter (lowest). The average in the summer is 26.5°C (79.7°F)and in the winter 15.4°C (59.6°F).
Many people have asked which side I liked the best. For me as a photographer you should not neglect seeing each side of the falls. As mentioned above, the Brazilian side has all the panoramic shots. The Argentina side has all the up close and personal shots. You would be doing yourself a huge disservice if you skipped out on either side.
The parks are not photographer friendly though. They open up at 8am and close at 6pm. So forget getting that crack of dawn shot. And unless you go in the winter time, you will not be getting that perfect light for sunset. I was pushing it getting my shot and the park ranger eventually ran me out of the park. I was the last one to leave. I did not fly thousands of miles and spend thousands of dollars to take crappy shots with poor light. So I had no problem pushing it right up past closing time.
If you want to avoid this you will have to splurge and spend the extra money and stay at the Sheraton on the Argentina side or the San Juan Hotel with in the park on the Brazilian side. I will do this next time I go. And I do plan on going back. My trip to Iguazu Falls this time was a gutsy one. I rented a car and drove from Sao Paulo to Foz do Iguaçu. Took us around 19 hours of driving mostly single lane highways and over $100 worth of toll roads. Brazil does not have a rail system like America so they have crappy semi trucks clogging the highways that you will be fighting with over the entire trip.
My advice is to fly into Foz do Iguaçu and rent a car there if you want the independence of driving yourself to the Argentina side. Otherwise you will pay dearly for a taxi and it will also cost you time.
Waterfalls of Banff and Jasper National Park
Some of the best waterfalls of the Rockies are located in Banff and Jasper National Park. Inside the Mountains Photo gallery, I have placed two mapsthere for people to download the best photography spots within these two parks. My favorite waterfall in Banff happens to be in Johnston Canyon in an area where you need to climb down below the overlook. It’s really not named but on the Johnston Canyon trail map, it is the waterfall between Upper Falls and the Lower Falls.
The image to the right is the actual overlook. You will need to back track a little and look over the edge to see the trail where others have gone down. It’s not very difficult at all for the extra effort to get the shot.
Other waterfall locations within Banff National Park are located on the maps
I have for people to download.
Tangle Falls is along Hwy 93 (Icefields Parkway). This waterfall is dramatic in it’s multitiered cascade that’s about 114 feet tall. It’s right off the highway and the easiest to see. Just outside of Banff as you enter into Jasper National Park a bit. This will be your first stop as you visit the numerous photo locations within Jasper National Park. I was lucky enough to photograph this waterfall during fall colors. It actually was snowing off and on during my trek into Jasper from Banff that day. Get here first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds.
N 52° 16.035 W 117° 17.197
Located in Jasper National Park, Canada. It is accessible by a short drive off the Icefields Parkway that connects Jasper and Banff National Parks. The Sunwapta River where the waterfalls are located are just past the Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge at coordinates 52.532310, -117.645551.
Northern California Waterfalls
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, Mcloud Falls, Hedge Creek Falls and Mossbrae Falls
Flew into Sacramento and headed north on I-5 just past Reeding and then took hwy 299 to hwy 89 to McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. Here is a link to their website to help you plan your own trip. http://www.burney-falls.com/
I drove all night to get here before sun up since I knew there would be no cloud cover. I typically will never shoot waterfalls during sunny days so it was either beat the sun or suffer taking crappy shots after spending a lot of money on airfare and a rental car.
I arrived at McArthur-Burney Falls around 4:30 am just as the morning sun glow was coming up over the horizon. I pulled out the bag for some of the warmer clothing but forgot them at home and did not pack any of it. .So I was stuck in t-shirts and shorts. I took one shot from the parking lot, then hurried down to the waters edge to start shooting. It was a little after 5.a.m when I started shooting. So I had enough light to emulate a cloudy day. I had to work fast as there was a race against the sun to get all the shots I wanted. As I made my way down the easy switchbacks down to the waters edge, I saw where I really need to be. And this would require hoping over slick lava rock covered in slime. From one end of the shore to the other I was able to do this without busting my ass and getting the camera wet.
As the sun eventually beat me, I decided to work with it and keep shooting. Some of these images would take up to 8 shots to combine later in photoshop. There is just no way to take one shot and get the full dynamic range even on a cloudy day. I think over all these last shots with some of the sun coming through turned out pretty good.
As I left McArthur-Burney Falls, the park was still closed. There was no envelope to pay my entrance fee. But I did see one of the rangers in the visitor’s center getting things ready. So I knocked on the door to let her know there were no envelopes and I needed to pay. She was happy I made sure I paid and we started talking a lot. Since I told her to keep the change and donate it to the park, she ended up telling me of even more waterfalls in the area I could go explore that I had not even heard of. She gave me a map with easy directions and off I went to the waterfalls around McCloud. Going to have to say the lady who is the park ranger at McArthur-Burney Falls state park is one of the best I have ever talked to.
McCloud Falls area
These are the coordinates to the turn off from hwy 89 to see Lower, Middle and Upper McCloud Falls. Just follow the road and you will see signs telling you where lower falls is located. Then back track and go see Middle and Upper Falls.
I first headed on to lower falls. I knew the sun would give me a lot of problems but that just ment a lot more post processing when I got home. Seemed like I ended up taking 8 different exposures for every one picture I took. All of these waterfalls have easy access to them and you can pull right up to the over looks. But there is a trail you can take that will lead you to each waterfall.
The whole area is known as the McCloud River Loop in the Shasta National Forest. If you are coming from McArthur-Burney Falls, set your odometer to 0 and at the 35 mile mark is the sign into this area. It’s a pretty big sign so you can’t miss it. B on the lookout for Ash Creek Station and you know you are getting close. Lots of places to pull over and camp in this area. I saw mostly fishermen while I was here and only two other photographers. As a side note, this area is on private lands and is very well maintained so make sure you stay on the trail so you do not trespass onto their lands.
Lots of info out on the net to get to Mossbrae Falls in Dunsmuir, Siskiyou County. But I’ll give you the gps coordinates on where to park and where the falls are located. You will turn and head west on a road called Scarlet Way from Dunsmuir Ave and drive on over the bridge. Once over the bridge, pull over and park. Scarlet Way turn off gps coordinates are 41° 13.713’N, 122° 16.563’W. This road turns into Cave Ave. then Simpson Ave. but it is the same road.
As mentioned all over the internet, you just follow the trail tracks for a mile until you come to the old rail road bridge. You will see the trail easily off to your right just before this bridge. During my time I was there, on a Saturday, 4 different trains passed by. So be listening and get off the tracks when they come through. In some spots there is not much room for you to stand as it passes by. The bridge itself actually has a catwalk so if you are on the bridge, you have a safe place to stand.
Mossbrae Falls is only about 50 ft. high, but about 150 ft. wide. The water cascades from springs down the moss-covered canyon wall, and down into the Sacramento River, creating the effect of many waterfall streams falling into the river.
I had planned to go see Mossbrae Falls in the morning. But since I found out about the waterfalls near McCloud, I ended up here during the late evening and sunset. I took a few shots while the sun was still hitting the falls, but just 30 minutes later, the sun went behind the hill and I had nice even light for photography.
It was fairly crowded while I was there, as to be expected over the 4th of July weekend. But I was still able to get plenty of shots I wanted since people were coming and going. At one point I had the place to myself for about 20 minutes.
Waterfalls of The Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington and the Pacific Northwest
Took a few weeks to explore the waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge as well and more waterfalls in the Cascades of Oregon and far eastern Washington. Flew into Seattle to meet up with a fellow photographer and we headed towards Portland. We had an ambitious route planned to hit as many waterfalls as possible. And instead of starting the trip off at a slower pace and work our way into more a more intense pace, we hit the ground running and went to the most difficult waterfalls on the Washington side first.
We kept up a pretty intense pace hitting different waterfall locations every day, sleeping in a van and never staying in one spot for more than a day. We kept up the pace for almost two weeks and were exhausted by the time we had finished. But it was one of the most successful trips to day as far as capturing outstanding photographs.
Panther Creek Falls
First up was Panther falls on the Washington side. A steep slippery decent into the valley presented us with challenges since this waterfall had two sections. And upper more picturesque series of cascades, then an even more dangerous decent to get to the base of the lower section. I had a few Darwin moments here as I was setting up for one of my shots at the water’s edge and almost went over the second 150 foot waterfall. But my guardian angel was there looking out for me. I am sure he has gotten impatient with me over the years, but he has never let me down yet.
Latitude 45.86727 N
Longitude -121.82864 W
Fall Creek Falls
I was able to hit this location the same day. Still exhausted from the hike to Panther Creek Falls, this hike was a little more of a challenge. I had the bright idea to climb the steep hillside covered in dead pine needles which gave no footing at all, and used dead plants and tree branches to climb above the falls, then just slide my way down the hill to a perfect perch I saw to capture this perspective of this waterfall. Problem was going to be getting back up, but I wanted this shot first and would worry about getting back up when I was finished. One wrong slip and I would have fallen down the gorge onto nice jagged rocks below.
This was my second Darwin moment of the trip, but again, my guardian angel was there with me. An older couple was below watching me and was waiting for me to come down to let me know how crazy I was and then wanted to see the shot I took that I risked so much to get. It was one of my favorite shots from the trip. During the shot, a hint of sunlight came through the clouds and it made all the difference.
To round up the Washington side of this particular trip, our last stop was Palouse Falls way out in eastern Washington. Of course this was not in the order of our travels as it was the last place we went. But I was determined to get a great shot which means great atmospherics, I waited here for three days to get the shot I wanted. Was to the only time to set up a base camp and finally relax since this was the last stop. And I was not going to leave without getting a great shot. Did a lot of hiking. All the way down into the canyon. Trip back up was not fun but the view down below was worth it.
The Oregon Waterfalls along the Columbia River
The Waterfalls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge were much more accessible and easier to reach with a small amount of hiking in some locations. Top of the list on the Oregon side was to photograph Punch Bowl Falls. Here we would get to view two waterfalls on this hike. From the cliffs edge on the trial to Punchbowl Falls is a waterfall called Metlako Falls.
Following on up Eagle Creek to Punchbowl falls, the total lengthen was 3.8 round trip.. Elevation gain was only 500 feet. When we had reached Punch Bowl Falls, to get the best vantage point for the photo, I went wading into the river. We were there during heavy spring run off so the water became painfully cold after standing in the water for over 45 minutes.
The falls consist of two falls, dropping 48 and 79 feet through a narrow gorge covered in moss. The river below it is full of boulders also covered in moss and is one of the most picturesque scenes along the Columbia River Gorge.
One of my other favorite waterfalls in the Oregon Cascade region is Proxy Falls. The one way loop trail located in the Three Sisters Wilderness, travels through open lava fields and dense forest, offering views of two different waterfalls. Proxy Falls is one of the most frequently photographed waterfalls in Oregon and rightfully so. You will have to endure heavy mist issues while down below getting that low angle shot, so bring water gear to help cover the camera and a cloth to constantly wipe it off. This waterfall is just over 226 feet.
Crystal Colorado Ghost Town
19 hours…It started off like many other of my long drives out west. Getting out of flat ugly boring Texas, why do I live in this state? I often ask myself every time I leave to go on a photo journey. My destination is the Crystal Ghost town in Colorado to photograph the mill on the Crystal River. I have wanted to see this place for a long time. So I took advantage of the extra day off for the 4th of July and headed that way.
I had read up before hand on how bad the off road is to get to the mill and ghost town. So I found Crystal River Jeep Tours online and contacted them about taking us there and dropping us off. These guys are great people to work with. They accommodated 4 of us and all our gear and were ready right when we showed up to move out.
They talked up a storm telling us the story and history of the surrounding areas. They must have repeated this millions of times for other people but still told us all about it with great enthusiasm. It took us about an hour to get from their location to the mill. The road is pretty bad, but if you have high clearance and the car is not your every day commuter vehicle, you should be fine. You will just have to take it slow…really slow.
Havasu Falls – The Grand Canyon Supai, Havasupai Reservation
We left Dallas Texas at 5pm and drove all night straight to the Hualapai Hilltop. We made it there by 10am Arizona time. So that was a long non-stop 19 hour drive. We got all our gear ready along with the camera gear and we set out on our way. A 10 mile hike into the canyon to the campsite.
We were going slow since we were so tired from the drive. Everyone was passing us, even the fat people, but they had no gear to carry. We did make it in time to have our backpacks carried by the pack mules but I was still lugging around 25 pounds worth of camera gear. I go to Utah and hike sometimes twice a year but I at least give myself a day to recover from the long drive. We did not have as much time this trip so we had to make the best of it and waste the remainder of the day getting to our campsite.
I took my wife with me on this trip. She was a real trooper for the hike. I am usually by myself on these trips but she had seen photos of the waterfalls and really wanted to go. She has been on a couple of my Utah trips so she knew in advance how difficult this hike would be.
By mile 6 we were getting really tired. We would ask people coming out of the canyon how much further to the village and kept getting the “only two more miles to go” from people. This seemed to continue forever.
Finally we came to the small creek with trees everywhere so we knew we were close. We then saw a marker on a rock that said the village was only two more miles away. The wife and I looked at each other and from that point on we joked that everything was just two miles away.
Finally we made it to the village. There was a small store at the entrance so we stopped and got some Gatorade. I slammed mine immediately since I was feeling dehydrated. We both had camel backs with two liters of water but it just didn’t seem to be enough.
I had read on many other websites about the native people and how un-friendly they were. Also read about how much trash was around the village. The natives were very friendly to us. All said hello and were very helpful. So these reports about them were false. The trash on the other hand was very disappointing. The village is filthy. I have been to a lot of native peoples villages. My father and I have traveled a lot to the Indian villages of Mexico. All have some areas where you can see a little garbage. But the Supia village was the worst I have ever seen. I really wish they would make a major effort to clean up there environment. We all have grown up hearing how the land is sacred to them but you could not tell from looking. I was really disappointed in them for letting it all go to shit like this.
We finally made it to the campgrounds. I was worried about finding a spot close by since we were dead tired by this point and we hobbling along the trail. The campgrounds were two miles from the village. And with all the people that passed us and the helicopter fly overs I saw, I was worried about finding a good spot. But luckily we had one waiting for us close to the natural spring where people get their water. The next few days I spend hiking up and down the trails taking photos and swimming.
Idaho Landscape Waterfalls
The drive was a long one from Dallas Texas. I left after work and drove to Tulsa to pick up my dad. From there we drove straight to the Eastern side of Idaho. Our first stop was a waterfall called Fall Creek Falls in Swan Valley near the Palisades Lake Reservoir. Show sunset here, then drove north to Ashton so I could be in position to shoot Upper and Lower Mesa Falls at sunrise.
We had mostly bland ugly blue skies. So my only time to get some good even lighting on the waterfalls would be either sunset or sunrise when the falls would be in the shadows. After shooting Mesa Falls we headed to Twin Falls Idaho where there is a nice collection of even more waterfalls.
First up here was Perrine Coulee Falls. It sites in the shadows on the south side of the canyon the Snake River runs through. Just off of hwy 93, you take Canyon Springs Rd towards Centennial Waterfront Park. After the first switchback, pull over and it will be on your left.
The next morning the plan was to shoot Thousand Springs and Niagra Springs Falls. I had to make a choice since I could not reach both of them in time. So I opted for Niagra Springs Falls. It sits on the north side of the canyon south of Jerome Idaho, so I had to get there way before sunrise to get the even lighting I needed to pull the shot off. I left to look for it around 4:30am and made it in time.
After shooting all these waterfalls we headed for Stanley for the mountain scenes. We had lots of plans originally to hike around Alice Lake and do the loop to Toxaway Lake, but the rangers said there was still a lot of snow on the trails and the rivers were flowing very fast. We would need to cross them three different times on the trail. So we opted to hike up to Hell Roaring Lake instead.