Chasing Waterfalls in Indiana

The RB67 ProS - Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The RB67 ProS - Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Saturday 10.13.2018 found me out of the hose and on the road by 4:00am heading towards Indiana to photograph some waterfalls that I’ve never been to before: Cataract Falls and McCormick Falls. I’ve been feeling a bit restless lately and needed a small roadtrip to mix things up a bit. It was between this trip or going north to the Lake Erie area – but given the cold 34F degree morning that was forecasted I thought this would be the perfect time to shoot the waterfalls and not worry about people being in the way wading and playing in the water. Which looks to be a pretty common occurrence if you look up any Youtube videos of them, especially Cataract Falls.

Packed in the car were my faithful Mamiya RB67 ProS and my Fuji GX617, along with my D500 and 150-600 lens (in case any wildlife opportunities came up, but the plan for the trip was to just shoot film for the most part).

I arrived at what I *thought* was the park containing the Cataract Falls only to find out, after driving all over the park, that the falls were actually about 20 minutes away from there. Oops. So much for being set-up and ready to shoot before dawn. Once finally there I was fortunate to mostly, other than one small group of people who came and went, have the place to myself.

Cataract Lower Falls in the Mist - Fuji GX617 with ACROS 100 film, long exposure

Cataract Lower Falls - Fuji GX617 with ACROS 100 film, long exposure

Cataract Lower Falls side view- Mamiya RB67 ProS with ACROS 100 film, long exposure

Cataract Lower Falls - Fuji GX617 with ACROS 100 film, long exposure

Cataract Falls actually consists of two groupings of waterfalls; the Upper and Lower. Most of my time was spent at the Lower falls as the Upper falls had a lot of dead trees and deadfall everywhere and it was not picturesque. I didn’t really shoot anything there – It wasn’t worth wasting the film on it. And, the few spots that looked like they had any hope of getting a good composition had very prominent signage preventing entry. Given that I was a stranger in a strange land, I decided it was best to move on.

The next stop was McCormick Falls in McCormick’s Creek State Park. This is a smaller waterfall set fairly far down in a ravine area. I hiked into the ravine and then upstream in the water with the RB67 in my pack. Here’s one of my favorite images from this spot.

McCormick Falls - Mamiya RB67 ProS with ACROS 100 film, long exposure

Over the last several years after I quit riding my bike (long, work-related story), I’ve put on weight but for the past 6 weeks I’ve been on the Whole30 diet (well, have turned it into a “Whole60” now) and have lost almost 30lbs. This really showed when carrying all of my heavy medium format gear into these locations – it was much easier. Getting healthy and back to a good weight makes everything in life better and easier, including photograpjy.

If you plan on visiting either falls, remember that Indiana charges $9.00 for out-of-state visitors ($7.00 for in state folks). From my experience with many Indiana State Parks this $$ is well worth it – they are some of the best kept parks that I’ve been to. If Ohio decided to charge admission to parks in order to fund them better, I would be happy to pay.

For those of you that are into the technical details, all of the above images were long exposures of over 3 minutes each on a tripod on Fuji ACROS 100 black & white film. I developed the images in Rodinal 1:100 misture in what is a “Semi-Stand” method with very little agitation. This has become my go-to development method for long exposures of waterfalls on ACROS film. I’ve found that the highlights of the water don’t get blown out and the shadow details are much better with this method. The developed negatives were scanned on an Epson V600 scanner with light dust clean-up and borders added in Photoshop.

If you are interested in visiting these waterfalls, the addres for the Cataract Falls is 1-70 N Cataract Rd, Spencer, IN 47460 . More info can be found at http://cataractfalls.com/. The McCormick Falls address is 250 McCormick's Creek Park Road, Spencer, IN 47460 . More info can be found at https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2978.htm.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!