Great Falls Flooded

In honor of National Park Week, I decided to visit the national park closest to my house – Great Falls.  For those of you not familiar with National Park Week, entrance fees are waived at all national parks and rangers typically host a variety of different programs, hikes and more.  I encourage you to visit a national park this week!

Great Falls Flooded During Sunset

EOS 5D, 19-35mm, graduated neutral density filter

The northern Virginia area has received a lot of rain in the recent days and weeks.  As a result, rivers and streams have flooded their banks.  In the case of the Potomac River, which is featured in this photograph, run off from the mountains and local streams flow directly into the river, causing floods.  During heavy rain storms, especially ones that continue over the course of several days, the already gnarly rapids at Great Falls turn even more dramatic. 

The ferocious roar of these unwildly rapids can be heard several hundred yards away.  During my visit, I came across a ton of debris and trees that had been swept into gullies and up onto the boulders.  When looking out towards the falls, gigantic trees and logs whizzed by at lightening fast speeds.  Normally a hazardous area where on average 7 drownings occur each year, the danger factor increases tenfold during floods.

I don’t know of too many photographers who are willing to stand at the predetermined overlooks to capture the shot every other visitor captured.  As you probably guessed, I’m not one of those photographers.  As I slid down the slippery rock faces with my gear clunking behind me, I remembered I’d forgotten my hiking boots.  Sneakers don’t cut it, especially on wet rock, but there was no turning back. 

I positioned myself as close to the river bank I could get without falling in, probably too close for most people’s comfort level.  I felt the distant stares of people on the safe overlooks, fingers and binoculars aimed directly at yours truly.  As I focused on not drowning, I tried not to think of what the onlookers must have been saying about this crazy guy who’s surely about to slide off the slippery rocks to his watery grave.

A benefit of my location was obtaining a nice balance of lichen covered rocks, the swirling rapids and interesting cloud formations during the sunset.  A negative on this location was that every ten minutes or so, waves would come crashing down on the rocks just below my camera and completely soak me.  Times like these make me thankful for my sealed camera and lenses. 

I captured around 200 images in the hour and half I sat precariously perched on the rock ledge.  While I walked away with a number of okay shots, two stood out at my favorites and the best of the group.  Yes, it can take hours and even several trips before a photography can capture just one or two good images.  After much deliberation, I finally chose this image to showcase in my blog after my wife and brother both picked it as their favorite.

Learn more about National Park Week.

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