From time to time, one of my images is just so darn fun to take that it begins to occupy a special spot in my mind. That is undoubtedly the case with the image in this post: Stars Fall.
For starters, I find the composition of this image to be quite interesting. The stars above the waterfall (Greeter Falls in Tennessee) hold enough visual weight that I cannot position the sky as far to the left as I typically would. The interesting thing is that, in the half-second before a viewer recognizes the stars above the waterfall, the image actually appears imbalanced to the right. Soon, the image shifts to become balanced (or even imbalanced to the left) as the viewer stares at the stars.
But, although I like the image itself, the real reason that this photo is important to me is below:
Yup, that's me wearing fishing waders with a goose-down jacket.
Stars Fall is important to me because I walked through a river to make it happen. And, although he isn't pictured, my dad walked through the river as well — in part because he didn't want me to drown, and in part because he's just a cool guy.
After wading across the river (note to self: bring hiking poles next time), my dad and I scrambled onto a freezing-cold rock on the other side. The sun was about to set, and I knew that I needed two photos for the scene I had in mind: one with the foreground properly exposed (immediately after sunset), and one with stars in the sky (more than an hour after sunset). To get the photos to blend properly, I had to keep my camera completely still for about an hour.
It was a cold hour.
The images above don't really show it, but the temperature that night hovered right around freezing. With the cold air and constant spray from the waterfall, I'm sure that it was at least 25 degrees where I sat.
So, my dad and I spent an hour eating trail mix and hoping that nothing would bump my tripod out of place, all the while sitting on the coldest rock imaginable. I actually set my fully-charged phone down on the rock at one point, and its battery was dead when I picked it up again.
Despite my gloves (pictured above), I also think I came the closest I have ever gotten to having mild frostbite. An hour after I got warm again, my fingers still felt bruised. They're all fine now, but I will definitely bring thicker gloves next time around.
What makes this night so amazing is that the result was exactly the image that I had envisioned the day before. I only had one weekend free at this waterfall, and I got amazingly lucky that it wasn't a cloudy night at all. The full moon lit up the foreground perfectly, and the falls were higher than I had ever seen before. Everything came together perfectly for this image, which is one of my favorites of all time. Plus, cold builds character.
If you would like to view the image in my gallery or purchase a print, please follow this link.