Wahkeena Falls – The story behind the photo

Wahkeena Falls is one of the many water falls along the Columbia River Scenic Highway and is one of the best. I love the way it has two separate falls and seems to come out of nowhere. From the parking lot you will need to climb the trail for 2/10ths of mile which is an easy walk to where the falls go under a bridge which is part of the trail. I carried a Lowe Pro belt bag with Leica M-P 240 and 21, 35, and 50 inside and the lightweight Feisol tripod and ball head. The climb was easy and with the light mirrorless gear was a snap. Right away I knew the 35 Summicron was needed and was an easy setup on the Feisol. The image below is full frame with the 35. The technical issues were the wind being created by the falls and the need for a very slow shutter speed. I was surprised to see the falls flowing so well with the drought in Oregon. I proceeded with a three stop ND filter on the 35 and lined up the shot which was pretty easy using live view. I focused using the rangefinder instead of the very iffy focus peaking on the Leica. You really have to work at it to use it correctly. It was kind of misty so I had to cover the lens when I was not shooting. Steadying the tripod more was done by holding down the hook under the ball head. I made exposures at 1/3 sec. .5 sec. and .7 sec. all at f16. The .7 sec. worked the best which is a slight underexposure to preserve the highlights. Everything was done in raw format so I could open the shadows and close highlights if I needed to. As it turned out the toning was minimal as I only adjusted the color temperature and opened the shadows some. The color saturation was increased a little and a few minor things.


F16 only held the focus to just past the falls in the foreground which was disappointing but I really wanted to hold focus on the foreground so I believe I focused on the branch in the foreground that looks kind of like a birds head. I can’t wait to make a print.


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