Remember to Shoot Verticals!

Back in early October I set off for a dayhike to photograph the many scenic waterfalls located within the Adirondack Mountain Reserve near St. Huberts. My modified “waterfalls loop” would include a number of falls located along Gill Brook, as well as Beaver Meadow Falls, Wedge Brook Falls, and Rainbow Falls- a spectacular waterfall that drops nearly 150 feet into a beautiful mossy gorge littered with boulders. The route I had chosen would also transverse the rocky lookout at “Indian Head”, with its stunning views of Lower Ausable Lake and the Great Range.

Small waterfall on Gill Brook
A small cascade on Gill Brook

I arrived at the trailhead well before dawn and loaded up my backpack with all the essentials; food, water, first aid kit, compass, map, whistle, waterproof matches, headlamp, extra clothes, rain jacket, and of course my camera, a variety of lenses and filters, and my tripod. I was good to go. The first couple of miles walking along the road went by fast. I was happy to see the junction for the Gill Brook trail shortly thereafter. This is a wonderful walk that parallels the brook the entire distance and passes many scenic waterfalls, including Artists Falls, along the way. I got my first shot of the morning not far up this trail. This may be the only horizontal image from this trip that I preferred over a vertical composition.

One of the many waterfalls on Gill Brook
One of the many waterfalls on Gill Brook

I took several more images farther up the brook, working my towards the next intersection. At the Elk Pass intersection I took a right and headed up to Indian Head Lookout. Upon reaching the summit I was greeted with breathtaking views of Lower Ausable Lake and the slides on Gothics as well as the other nearby peaks that make up the Great Range. By now it was mid-morning and the light wasn’t doing me any favors so I snapped a few “documentary” shots and decided to shoot over to Fish Hawk Cliffs and get a glimpse of the “Indian’s Head” I had been standing on.

View of Lower Ausable Lake from Indian Head
Lower Ausable Lake from Indian Head


“Indian Head” and the Great Range from Fish Hawk Cliffs

A few shots here and then it was back up and over Indian Head and down to the Lake Road. My next stop was Rainbow Falls, and this is where I spent the majority of the day.. hoping for some of that special light. I shot a variety of compositions here but the ones that stood out were the verticals. In the end I managed to come away with at least three images which I feel are unique from here.


“In The Mist” – Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls from a plunge pool just downstream of the falls
Rainbow Falls from a plunge pool just downstream of the falls

By now it was quite late in the day and I wanted to hit at least two more waterfalls on the way out. After packing up my gear I started my return via the East River Trail, which follows close to the beautiful Ausable River for much of its distance. At the intersection for Beaver Meadow Falls I crossed over to the West River Trail and visited this very scenic horsetail-shaped falls. The base of the falls had changed dramatically from my last visit back in early June. It wasn’t hard to figure out what had caused the huge jumble of trees and rock that had been deposited here, it was Hurricane Irene. The light was just about gone by the time I reached Beaver Meadow so I continued on to my next stop, Wedge Brook Falls. A couple of miles further down the trail I reached a sign pointing me in the direction of the falls. I scurried up the trail for a short distance to get a look at this scenic 30 ft waterfall that drops from the mountainside into the Ausable River. The light in the woods was fading quickly so I decided to hit the trail again.

Early fall colors in Rainbow Gorge
Some nice light in Rainbow Gorge, 3 image vertical stitch

Finally I reached Canyon Bridge, a sturdy well constructed bridge that crosses over the Ausable. As I was crossing I passed a gentleman who worked for A.T.I.S., he told me he was checking on some trail work that his crew was supposed to have finished that day. I stopped for a breather next to the bridge and took out my camera to photograph some moss covered boulders in the forest. Shortly thereafter I reached the road just as the man I had crossed paths with was hiking back to his truck. He asked if I would like a ride back to the trailhead to which I quickly replied “Yes, Thank You!”.

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4 thoughts on “Remember to Shoot Verticals!

  1. Zack is definitely back… soooo right about verticals. I had the opposite problem a while back believe it or not I shot almost 80% verticals and needed to change. I love a good vertical take on a subject, I think it gets the viewer thinking again about composition. Great post!!!!

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