What is it about waterfalls that draw us to them like moths to a flame?
Large or small, we seek them out to gaze with awe and in wonder of their simple, majestic beauty, their thunderous might, or their peaceful tranquillity. We jump from their heights into pools of crystal clear water; we dip our toes in the current as it flows past, or we simply sit and stare, enthralled in the rhythmic melody of the cascade.
Some of us even feel the motivation to hike for hours carrying many (far too many) kilograms of photographic gear, with the intention to capture their beauty for others, or maybe just for our own selfish memories. We labour under the load of our packs and equipment as we scramble for balance and a sure-footing up the muddy tracks, paths, and over slippery rocks heavy with moss, while the sounds of the cool flowing water rings in our ears and drive us on.
Last Monday, it was in this situation that I found myself. Planned well in advance, I greatfuly received my invitation to join some fellow photographers on an excursion into Lamington National Park to shoot some of the magnificent waterfalls that the park has to offer. I hadn’t been to Lamington in years and I was very excited to have the opportunity to go again.
Along with the 4 other photographers (Stef, Jason, Ian, and Alex), I awoke early to embrace the 2 hour drive to reach the park. The carpark was virtually empty as we headed off into the rainforest to complete the Box Log Circuit, Alex carrying his massive (and very heavy) large-format view camera over one shoulder like an axe (we must have been quite a sight!).
Shortly into the hike, after navigating the steep and windy path, with sheer drop-offs on the sides and its slippery rocks, we (well, Stef) almost trod on a large red-bellied black snake who was soaking up the early-morning warmth of the sun directly on the path in front of us. A good wake-up call as we made our way slowly around him, and a reminder to the 5 of us that there are other safety considerations to be mindful of, not just the steep mountainside and slippery path.
Soon thereafter we came to Yanbacoochie falls, our first waterfall for the day and good opportunity for a bite to eat and to drop our packs. Once we had established a way down to the falls, which involved lots of chin scratching, tying and untying of ropes, but which ultimately was a short back-track, we each headed off in our own directions to compose our shots and to capture the flowing cascades and lush moss-covered boulders of the Canungra Creek.
The image below titled “The Slide” is my favourite image from this location (and probably from the whole day). Captured just downstream from Yanbacoochie falls proper, the moss-encased boulders here were glowing iridescent green from the softly filtered sunlight, while the small cascades sent tendrils of swirling water downstream. I t was a truly magical location.
Packing up our gear and pushing further on into the forest, we past many lovely little cascades and small waterfalls as the track winds its way along following the contours of the land carved out by the flow of Canungra Creek over untold centuries. Our concept of time seemed irrelevant as we passed enormous eucalyptus trees, stunning in their own right, they must have been standing in the same locations for many hundreds of years.
Soon we came to the journeys main destination; the well photographed and truly magnificent Elabana Falls. Scrambling up slippery boulders the size of large family cars, we reached the base of the falls, where the clear waters pool and freshwater crayfish call home. Once again we each set off in our own directions to compose our shots and to take in the breathtaking scenery.
I took many shots in this location, however my favourites are the 2 images shown here in this post: the long vertical image above-right and the image directly above. All images on this page were taken using my favourite lens: the Canon TS-E 24mm f3.2 L II. In the image below, the focal plane has been tilted to draw attention to the main falls in the background, while softly blurring out the edges of the image. None of these effects were added using software and all were captured optically in-camera (stop me now, I could go on-and-on for hours about the joys of using this lens!).
After several hours of hopping from rock-to-rock, changing compositions, or just sitting and enjoying the scenery, we packed up our gear and headed off back to the cars (uphill all the way!) looking forward to the cold beers that awaited us and a good hot shower when we got home. Thanks very much to Stef, Jason, Alex, and Ian for making the day the fantastic trip that it was. I can’t wait for the next one!
Oh, alright. Here’s one last image of Elabana Falls (just because you asked so nicely!). If you like waterfalls, you might be interested in some of the other shots in my Waterfall Gallery.