Being from Norfolk there is an argument that I should have stuck to the rivers and lakes that I’m used to…but I didn’t. As my long suffering love knows I love a good waterfall, it could be almost the perfect pinhole subject, and here’s why.
Firstly, the motion, the movement the energy. I mean what’s not to like, a waterfall, like Ashgill Force above, is an amazing source of energy. Motion in a pinhole image is a wonderful thing. Subjects that move can become ghosts, or in the case of water can either smooth out or become emulsified like the creamiest milk (jings, I must’ve become romantic for just a second…I’ll get that fixed).
Waterfalls also give you surprising and wonderful opportunities, as shown in the shot above which was made behind Ashgill Force. Yes, in this case I was actually able to stand in the cave behind the fall, just touching distance away from the torrent. Until recently I had not had that experience, and I’m delighted that I’ve been able to have that pleasure, it was on my bucket list!
Waterfalls also give you the opportunity to make images which illustrate the flow and motion of the stream below the fall, as in the shot of High Force above, which incidentally is one of the most impressive falls in England and has been visited by such luminaries as J.M.W. Turner.
The Reekie Linn, which is an easily accessible waterfall on the River Isla in Angus, Scotland, is almost as impressive as High Force. Unfortunately the Reekie Linn illustrates another of the problems inherent in waterfall pinholing…access. The Reekie Linn can only be shot from above or from a distance (at least in my experience) due to the sheer sides of the glen that the river runs through. With the wide-angle of a pinhole this can make it difficult to really access a falls unless you are willing to get your feet wet…generally I am not.
Sometimes though, it is possible to get close…and that also brings the advantage of being able to see how man has harnessed the power of the water. Lumsdale is now a peaceful valley near Matlock in Derbyshire. There was a time though when the valley would’ve been filled with the sound of industry. Indeed, Lumsdale is one of the most impressive sites of water powered industry in the UK, which you couldn’t tell from the shot above.
So now we find that waterfalls can also be deceptive. For example, you would never have guessed that but a short walk away from the peaceful scene above is a hot spring filled with cavorting naked hippies. OK, I may be exaggerating a little but springs that fall down the side of the valley near the spot above are a favoured bathing spot. Prats Balaguer, a small hamlet in the Pyrenees, is blessed with this hot spring, a small church, and not much else.
Splendid isolation, then, is also a possible feature of a waterfall. But not in the case above, which was just off the path towards the ropeway taking you to the top of the island of Miyajima in Japan. Patience was key here as the light was beginning to fade leading to a very long exposure. Metering can be a bit of a challenge with a fall. They’re often situated in the depths of woods and valleys so careful metering, adjusting for reciprocity, and patience is key.
Patience is, of course, not a problem for the dedicated Pinholista, but we also rely on the patience of others. On so many occasions during so many holidays I have taken A on a trip to a waterfall, or two, or three…or in this case forty-eight! The Utsue waterfalls near Takayama are, for me at least, almost the ultimate falls. You get to travel by various means of transport to a path and a rest area at the foot of a mountain. Then you climb, climb and climb some more, whilst passing 48 individual falls. As you can imagine, this takes a little while for a dedicated Pinholista. Then you have to head back down again, only to meet 5 coachloads of Japanese pensioners all walking up the path (which incidentally is only wide enough for a single person to pass safely). Whilst there could be some worry that you’ll miss the transport links the cheery calls of konichi-wa will nurture you on the descent.
So there we have it, chasing waterfalls will give you many fine experiences, and with careful metering so pretty fine images as well. Happy Shooting Pinholistas!