Up to my ankles in water

A few days ago I was persuaded by a friend to accompany him on a hike up the Rio Chilar near Nerja in southern Spain. A great day out. The hike is fairly short – about 10km (6 miles) round-trip. The altitude gain is only about 250 feet so not strenuous but it can be difficult. Most of the time you are walking through the river and the river bed can be difficult with stones, boulders and changes in depth. One minute the water is above your ankles and then, if you choose the wrong place for your next step, its above your knees. So an easy hike on the lungs but hard on the feet, knees and leg muscles.

Along the way there are some great opportunities for photography. There are a number of water cascades in the river. They can be difficult to clamber over but they are great locations to stop and explore. Slow shutter speeds work well so a tripod is essential kit along with neutral density filters because the light can be bright. The first photograph was taken at one of those cascades with the camera set at ISO 100, 30sec exposure, f8 aperture and the lens set at 180mm focal length. The long exposure (courtesy of a 10 stop neutral density filter) helping to give a blue tinge to image which I feel fits with the idea of an ethereal, mystical mood.

The next photograph gives an idea of what the cascades look like. Plenty of opportunities to search for details and ideas within the complex mix of rocks, trapped wood and water.

Another great feature of the Rio Chilar trail is the mini-canyons where the river has cut through the rock. Depending on the time of day and the direction of the sun it would be useful to have a flash gun in your bag that can be used off-camera as a fill light for the shadows. I decided not to take my Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites with me but fortunately I was able to get a reasonable shot of the river flowing through a mini-canyon.

There are also plenty of small details in the river bed that provide good material to work on in Photoshop. I’ve used ‘blending’ in this next photograph to show the sort of images that can be created in post-processing. Here’s an example using the ‘vivid light’ blending mode at 85% opacity.

So, a good day out but you need to get to the start-point for about 8:30am to get parked and beat the rush, its a popular walk for the Spanish and for tourists on holiday. Minutes after taking this last photograph the pool below the waterfall was filled with a procession of people all wanting their ‘selfie’ photo-opportunity in the pool with the waterfall behind them. A bit annoying for us landscape photographers but a great way to cool down after the first half of the hike before returning back down the river.

 

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  11 comments for “Up to my ankles in water

  1. Joanna
    June 18, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Love this David!!! Have mentioned it earlier for the group as a day trip but was thinking about September/October time, what do you think???

    • davidcollinsfoto
      June 18, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks Joanna. It’s a good day trip. We took about 7 hours for the round trip but that included quite a few stops along the way to ‘work a location’. Straight walking is no more than 2 hours each way. I’m not sure whether the water levels drop as Summer progresses or if they rise when the rain starts in October as it seems to do. It is hard on the legs so good to have well cushioned shoes that don’t mind being immersed in water for a few hours. We could certainly give it a go.

    • Kit Haig
      June 23, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      Oktober sounds great 🙂

      • davidcollinsfoto
        June 23, 2016 at 4:08 pm

        Thanks Kit. Not sure about October. Before the rains start the river might be dry in places so not as interesting, after the rains start it could be better but have to pick a sunny day so we get some good light/shadow contrast. By the way are you in Denmark, Norway or Spain at the moment?

    • Kit Haig
      June 23, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Great photos David and I think oktober would bee great for a group trip to this place.

  2. June 19, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Long exposures never get boring. Great stuff 🙂 First image is perfect. Second could perhaps benefit from a more cleaned up frame and perhaps a tighter crop, I think. Looks like an impressionistic painting the way the smoothened out structures are.

    • davidcollinsfoto
      June 19, 2016 at 7:18 pm

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I understand the crop comment but can you clarify what you mean when you say “a more cleaned up frame”? David.

      • June 20, 2016 at 5:22 pm

        hi, sorry it was a pretty sloppy reply to begin with. what I meant was that I thought it was a really interesting image that has great potential, but I found that there was just a bit too much happening in it. I often try to remind myself to go tighter and tighter and try to just find the most important parts of the image. that brown branch adds a nice balance of the colours, but the things just above it perhaps don’t really complement the image. I would personally try to clone out some of the pine needles and random small items too.

        see, clearly the image made me react to it and get my creative juices going – definitely what a good image is supposed to do 🙂

      • davidcollinsfoto
        June 20, 2016 at 9:20 pm

        Don’t apologise, I find your comments really useful. The first image is an example of what can be found by concentrating on the details ‘hiding’ in the chaos of the water cascades you find on the river. The wider shot is included more as a reference image to give an idea of the location where the first image was taken and to make the point that if you search amongst all that chaos often you can find a simpler, more powerful image just waiting to be discovered – the point you are making in your comment. On reflection I should have said that in my blog post, so that’s worth me thinking about for the future. Thanks again for taking the time to comment, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your perspective.

  3. October 20, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Hi David,
    The first photograph is wonderful. Simple composition, great colours, nicely executed. What make ND filters do you use? I thought ND filters should keep the colours natural though perhaps some produce a colour cast? It’s a great image however the colour was achieved. Cheers, Mr Cafe 🙂

    • David Collins
      October 21, 2016 at 8:06 am

      Hi, Thanks so much for your comment about the photo, very much appreciated. In answer to your question, I use Lee filters and for this particular photo I used their ‘Big Stopper’, which is a 10 stop ND filter. I could have used less exposure correction (I have a 3 stop ND filter) but it was all I had with me. The photo was taken in June in Southern Spain and even though it was only 10:15am, the sun was bright (though not shining directly on that part of the river) and the sky very blue. Exposure was 30 sec at f8, ISO 100 and auto white balance – which I find to be pretty accurate with my camera. You’re right about the neutral colour cast of ND filters but the majority of the light falling on the rocks was coming from the blue sky and although our eyes colour adjust for that, the camera doesn’t so the blue light reflected from the sky is captured – the ‘Rayleigh effect’ apparently describes why the sky looks blue but its all about different wavelengths of the colours in sunlight and their interaction with the atmosphere (apologies to any physicists for this simplification of Rayleigh’s work!). It didn’t surprise me that there was a blue tone to the photo (which I could have ‘corrected’ by adjusting the white balance before of after) but there is always some luck with long exposures of flowing water about whether they work or not and in this case the blue tone worked better than I was anticipating. Thanks again for your comment.

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