Cedar Creek in Spring

Back in October, I ventured into an area of Shenandoah National Park that I had never visited – Cedar Creek. I found this area to be great for autumn photography, perhaps because I was lucky enough to visit during peak autumn foliage. I recently had a free afternoon, so I paid Cedar Creek another visit to see how it faired in spring.

During my first visit, I was the lone hiker along the trail. To my dismay, on this trip I was greeted with a full parking lot upon my arrival. Not that I have anything against people, because I don’t, but they tend to get in the way when photographing landscapes. Thankfully, I think most of the hikers were taking the nearby White Oaks Canyon Falls trail rather than Cedar Creek, which helped cut down on distractions. After a relatively short uphill hike to the first set of falls that seemed to take me forever (mental note – cut back on the McDonald’s), I came across the same area I photographed in October.

Strangely, the water level was lower in spring than in October, which is the exact opposite of what it should be. Besides that oddity, I remembered the area and I began to set up for some shots. Given I had previously visited the location, I already had several shots in mind. I first started with a few I did back in autumn, then began to frame new views.

For a new perspective, I moved into the middle of the creek below the third cascade, precariously perched on a wet, moss-covered rock half the size of my foot. While hanging onto my tripod for dear life (a fall of 2 inches into 6 inches of water surely meant a watery grave. Or I might have melted from getting wet, which sounds like a horrible way to go.) I framed this shot. But before I was able to snap the first shot, out of nowhere came a heard of humans, galloping down the trail from my left, arms pointing towards me with yelps of, ‘look, there’s a photographer’. For a fleeting moment, I felt like an endangered species being hunted. Queue the big throat gulp, wide eyes and scary movie score.

Predictably, the heard of unknowns began rock scrambling to position themselves as close to me as possible, asking all the usual questions like, ‘what f-stop are you using?’, ‘how did you find this location?’ and ‘can you show me how to blur the water since we both have Canon cameras?’. As other photographers will attest, these are the usual questions we get when greeted along the trail.

Shenandoah National Park - Cedar Creek by Jason Stricker PhotographyGiven my annoyance of half a dozen humans swarming around my location like agitated honey bees, constantly getting into my shot, I tried my best to remember how to say ‘I speak no English’ in French or in Latin. But given how poorly I did in French and the fact that only 3 people on Earth know Latin, I graciously replied with the completely wrong f-stop, explained I hiked along the same trail as they had and proclaimed I created my camera by hand from wood and only glued on a Canon logo to make it look legit. My sarcasm flew over their heads and down the stream; they took a few snapshots and off they went, with one staring at my camera as if to see how it was made.

If I thought long and hard, I could probably come up with someone who’d say I’m a reasonably nice guy who normally helps people out. But the task seems daunting, so I’ll save it for someone else to ponder. At this moment, I was more focused on enjoying all that nature had to offer (sans hikers) and capturing a memorable shot – not mentoring a pack of wild hikers on photography 101.

As for the results, I’m happy with how this one turned out. I especially like how the downed tree adds a little something else that creates a more interesting and dimensional photograph, and the spring green adds a nice pop to the top third of the image. Finally, to the pack of humans that momentarily prevented me from making this photograph, I bid you farewell and hope not to see you along the trails.

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