Cherokee Prairie Natural Area represents one of the largest remaining tracts of tallgrass prairie in the Arkansas River Valley. Located just north of Charleston, this tract is a high-quality prairie representative of the more extensive Cherokee Prairies that once occurred across the western portion of the Arkansas River Valley. The natural area contains a diverse array of forb species (herbaceous species other than grasses) including compass plant, purple prairie clover, and Indian paintbrush. It also hosts several animal species that are now considered rare, or even endangered. Prairie Creek flows through the center of the natural area.
|Best Time to Visit:||Spring is a great time for shooting a great variety of native wildflowers|
|Where it is:|
|Directions:||The natural area is located approximately 2 miles north of Charleston, at the intersection of State Highways 60 and 217.|
|Map:||Click map to enlargeTopo Boundry Map|
|Links:||Cherokee Prairie Brochure|
|Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission|
ARKANSAS NATURAL HERITAGE COMMISSION
|Arkansas Natural Areas||Natural areas are lands specifically managed to preserve, and sometimes restore, natural communities that are now rare. Lands within the System of Natural Areas belong to all Arkansans and represent some of the only opportunities present and future generations will have to experience what Arkansas was like prior to settlement. They also represent vital habitat for a host animal and plant species.
Along with actively managing these areas to maintain their ecological character, the ANHC also promotes low-impact, considerate use of natural areas. That means that activities such as hiking, botanizing, and bird-watching are perfectly suited for ANHC natural areas. However, to minimize impact on these lands, camping, horses, mountain bikes, and motorized vehicles are not allowed on natural areas.
Tips for the Photographer
|Equipment:||Shooting wildflowers will require closeup or macro lenses. If visiting on a bright sunny day a diffuser will improve photos of flowers.|
|What to Photograph:||If you are looking for something big and exciting to photograph this may not be the place. This is a natural prairie (a field) which hosts over 150 spieces of plants and many animals and birds some of which are considered rare. Prairie Creek runs through the middle of the area so you have a variety of habitat.|
|Photography Tips:||Great location for macro photography. Best to shoot on an overcast day.|
|Links:||How to Photograph Wildflowers|
Cherokee Prairie Photo Gallery
More Photographic Destinations in Arkansas:
Interactive Google Map
Use the map + – controls to zoom in and out, use the Map drop-down to change to “Map”, “Satellite”, “Hybrid”, or “Terrain” views. Drag the little man icon from the upper left corner to a map location for street level view. Click on a pushpin for more information about the Photographic Destination, then click on the title to go to the location page.
I spent the weekend camping at Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas with the PSNWA (Photographic Society of North West Arkansas). We had a moonlight waterfall photo shoot as well as spending the day photographing in the park. The gallery of images below includes the waterfall at night as well as spring wildflowers, spiders, caves with bats, flowering Redbud trees, and other springtime shots from the park.
I will be instructing a photography class for PSNWA Thursday evening in Springdale AR.
The basis of exceptional photography is very simply understanding exposure. Once you better understand exposure you can begin to make it work for you and not against you. There are only 3 things that control exposure, the ISO speed of your film or camera, the Aperture (the size of the lens opening), and the shutter speed (how long the lens is open). This session will show you graphically using “Liquid Light” how these interact to give control of the exposure and therefore the final image’s impact.
Once you truly understand exposure, you can use it to create many photographic effects including, motion blur, freezing the subject, blurred backgrounds, and depth of field. You will learn that the camera is your enemy when shooting on “Program or Auto” and that you must take control away from the camera and turn it over to your creative vision. You will learn how to use your digital camera’s tools “exposure meter” and “histogram” to give the control over exposure needed for “fantastic” not just properly exposed photos.
PSNWA Classes are free to PSNWA members. You can register for Liquid Light on the PSNWA web site at:
Two Ways to Shoot
There are two basic methods to shooting water falls. The first is a stop action freeze frame type of shot. This is a pretty easy way to shoot a water fall, simply take a photo of a water fall with automatic setting in normal daylight and you have it. All you need is to be sure you have a fast enough shutter speed, depending on how fast the water is moving this can be anywhere from 1/30 second on up.
The second way is to create motion blur with the water, this is what most people are after when shooting a waterfall and what most of this article is about.
When to shoot
Light is the key to all great photos, soft diffused light will give the best results. In the case of waterfalls the less of it the better.
Shooting waterfalls is one of those photo subjects that falls into a category pretty much its own as to the best time to shoot them. An overcast day with a gentle rain in the spring or fall following several days of rain. This will vary with location, but in many areas the flow of water dries up in the summer months and a waterfall without water is just a pile of rocks. Most waterfalls look better with a long exposure to make the water silky smooth (the main criteria being the amount of water flowing, the greater the flow the faster the shutter speed you can use and still get a great shot. With a low water flow, the long exposure makes it look like more water is flowing than really is.
A dark overcast day makes for great waterfall photography and will allow us to slow down the exposure. When the rocks and plants around the waterfall are wet they will appear more saturated and have deeper color, so a nice gentle mist is ideal. A heavy downfall will obstruct you view of the waterfall.
A camera that you can manually set the shutter speed and aperture will work the best. When shooting waterfalls we are basically doing everything wrong according to the auto programs that cameras have, so we need to manually override all settings.
There are two filters that you need for shooting waterfalls, a polarizer and neutral density filter.
Polarizer - A filter used to increase the contrast in skies and reduce reflections on water, glass, and most everything else. If you photograph outside this is an essential piece of equipment. The polarizer filter works by blocking out the rays of light that are bouncing around and coming in at an angle (reflected) and only letting in the light rays coming directly from the subject. (Ok, it’s really more complicated than that, just know that it makes your images better.) Be sure that you get a circular polarizer if you have autofocus or TTL metering or it could cause problems.
Neutral Density - filter (ND filter) creates a reduction in light that is neutral ( does not change the color) for the film or sensor area. This filter is often used to allow for longer exposure times, or larger apertures, where these settings would normally create overexposure in the camera. Neutral Density filters come in different strengths and each reduces the exposure according to it’s strength. Below is a list of typical ND filter markings and their effects.
|Attenuation Factor||Filter Optical Density||f-Stop Reduction||% transmittance|
This is a must have for the long exposures needed to blur the water.
A cable release or wireless remote trigger for your camera should be used anytime you are taking long exposures.
Soft Lens Cloth
Shooting waterfalls is usually a wet situation, either from the weather or from mist and spry from the waterfall itself, be sure to bring a lens cleaning cloth to keep spots off the lens.
On most modern digital cameras you cannot get a motion blur waterfall shot using any of the program settings, they are designed not to blur your photos. I generally recommend shooting in manual mode so that you have complete control of the camera settings.
Again to keep the shutterspeed slow you need to set the ISO to lowest setting that you can (100 on most cameras). This will also give you the sharpest image with the least noise.
Set a small aperture so that you can have a long exposure time and for the greatest “Depth of Field” so that your entire image is in focus.
This is the key to most waterfall shots, getting a slow enough shutter speed to blur the moving water. How long is that? Usually about 1 to 2 seconds will do the trick, longer makes for smoother water. I have water fall shots that are about 20 seconds long. While you are shooting take shots at different shutter speeds (be sure to compensate your exposure with aperture and neutral density filters) and then choose the one you like best, that’s the correct exposure!
Now that you know exactly how to get that nice silky smooth waterfall shot like you see from all the pro’s don’t forget about the composition. Most waterfall shots are landscapes, so our basic rules of landscape composition apply. It’s beyond the scope of this article to go into all the composition rules, but I will list some of them for your consideration. Also remember that all rules are made to be broken.
- Rule of Thirds
- Diagonal Lines
- Geometric Shapes
- Leading Lines
- S Curve
Please keep your safety in mind when shooting waterfalls. Wet rocks are slick. Many waterfalls are waterfalls because they are on cliffs and drop-offs, use caution and do not exceed your abilities. Never cross a creek or river if you cannot see the bottom.
20 SESSIONS IN 5 TRACKS
3 IN DEPTH WORKSHOPS
STEVEN FOSTER’S BOTANICAL PHOTOGRAPHY
JIM SCHMELZER’S SECRETS FROM THE STUDIO
PHOTOSHOP WITH JEFF WILLARD
4 EXCITING EVENTS
DINNER WITH JIM SCHMELZER
ANNUAL LATE NIGHT MODEL SESSION
HAUTE COUTURE IN HISTORIC EUREKA SPRINGS
This years sympsoium features photographers from around the nation leading workshops and sympsoium sessions. In addition to the symposium, and pre-conference activities, check out the annual late night photo session. This year’s Vendor Fair will feature door prizes during every break in addition to companies with the latest in photographic tools and toys.
Rick Sammon has published 33 books, including his latest, Rick Sammon’s Secrets to Digital Photography, Exploring the Light – Making the Very Best In-Camera Exposures, and Face to Face – The Complete Guide to Photographing People.
Rick, who has photographed in almost 100 countries around the world, gives more than two-dozen photography workshops (including private workshops) and presentations around the world each year. He also presents at Photoshop World, which Rick says is a “blast.” Obviously, Rick loves teaching and sharing his knowledge of photography. Rick is also the author of the Canon Digital Rebel XT lessons on the Canon Digital Learning Center. He is also a Canon Explorer of Light. Rick also host five shows on kelbytraining.com. He’s also been spotted giving presentations at Apple stores in New York City and in San Francisco.
You can see photos by Rick at www.ricksammon.com.
Lightroom: Work-flow Not Work-slow
I will be instructing a session during the symposium in this session you will learn to make basic corrections to exposure, white balance, tone curves, dodging and burning, and many other techniques very quickly and be able to apply these to an entire shoot with just a couple of clicks. If you follow the instructions presented you will never again have trouble finding a photo, you know you have somewhere.
Lightroom does what it does by combining Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and a database and then tossing in a lot of “computer magic”. What this gives us is a way to organize our photos and do a great deal of sophisticated editing, all in a totally non destructive (this means you cannot ruin your original image) environment. Lightroom does not replace Photoshop or any other image editing program which lets you use layers, apply filters, or do sophisticated retouching and composting of images.
The use of a database gives us to ability to organize our photos, and then sort them buy any of many different criteria including standard metadata and IPTC information. This ability to sort very quickly on the entire catalog is what makes Lightroom great for organizing, or should I say finding your photos. The other cool thing about using a database, is that instead of changing all of our pixels and then throwing away the old pixel information, Lightroom simply saves an instruction to change the pixels. The program then reads this instruction and applies it to the image on screen but not to the actual file.
View a short slideshow from previous mapsym events.
Pre-Symposium Late Night Model Session
Once the sun has set many photographers will pack away their cameras and go home. They are missing out capturing some of the most stunning and visually exciting images.
The night has always been associated with romance, mystery, and the unknown. The nocturne has also been a natural subject for art. Night photography can produce some very interesting effects. The moon and stars aren’t the only things worth taking pictures of when the sun goes down.
Taking photographs at night is a lot simpler to achieve then one might think. The results can be very stunning and strange effects are easy to master. It is also possible to take top quality night images with just basic equipment.
See my article on Digital Night Photography.