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Opossum Creek Falls

Opossum Creek Falls
Made by Mark VanDyke Photography
Upper Opossum Creek Falls Oconee County, South Carolina Accessed via Turkey Ridge Road (gravel) I've been teaching at a University in the south for the past year. I'm nothing special--just a young guy trying to be decent at whatever opportunities present. For the most part, being in this particular geographic region and dealing with the topic matter I do (construction), students are highly motivated and hard working individuals looking to prepare and better themselves. However, at this time of year (grading time) you always get a handful that feel they deserved more than they got. That is the part of teaching that is difficult for me personally. At the end of the semester the learning is done--it either happened or didn't happen. However, it is at this particular time in the semester that the chase for alphabet letters heats up to a special intensity and all sorts of negative character attributes can seep out of seemingly stable locations. It is the least fulfilling part of teaching in my personal opinion. On the other hand, when it comes to landscape photographers, it is my personal experience that they are some of the least entitled people I've ever come across. There is an inherent recognition that despite a photographers technical skill level and despite the enormous amount of effort that goes into scouting and waiting for the right conditions to get a particular shot, sometimes you just don't get a say--and that is refreshing to me. Just recently, I took a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a professional photographer and friend,

"He Do Have A Pretty Mouth Don't He?"

"He Do Have A Pretty Mouth Don't He?"
Made by Bill Fultz (slakejustice)
Featured In The Film Deliverance Overlook for L'Eau d'Or Falls Hawthorne Pool Tallulah Gorge State Park Georgia This is hands down a personal accomplishment, to have actually gone to a location that was used in my favorite film Deliverance. The 1972 Classic featuring Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, John Voigt and Ronny Cox about 4 men who take a canoe trip gone seriously awry. Featured toward the end of the film, John Voigt, Ned Betty and Burt Reynolds were all filmed swimming in Hawthorn Pool below and are all also filmed at the base of the cliff where Burt Reynolds lays overnight with his leg severely broken. John Voigt later climbs the cliff face to the top to kill a mountain man who they believe is shooting at them from atop the gorge. Excerpts from the Special Features of the DVD: Deliverance Director Jon Boorman described the daily shooting as, “two canoes, two rubber rafts, four actors, a cameraman and camera assistant, two production assistants and myself. The jeeps would drop us at a point and down the river we would go. If somebody got hurt or the canoes were damaged we had to wait until we got to the pick up spot to get aid.” The filmmakers worked without insurance. No company would insure the actors because of the kinds of risks they were taking. In the special features it also speaks of how John Voigt actually climbed the entire 250 ft. cliff face to add to the realism of the film.

British soldiers lichen, Oconee County

British soldiers lichen, Oconee County
Made by Martin LaBar
Lichens are a combination of algae and fungi, the classic example of mutualistic symbiosis. The algae can carry on photosynthesis, and make food. The fungus can anchor itself most anywhere. This combination grows on bricks, rocks, roofs, above the tree line, in the Arctic, and in other places where other plants won't grow. This specimen was growing on a fallen log in a forest in the Village Creek area of Oconee County, South Carolina. The height of the spike on the right was probably a little less than an inch/about 2 cm. For more on lichens in general, see here. The red-tipped lichen, Cladonia cristatella, is called British soldiers lichen. Because of the color, and because this lichen is fairly common in South Carolina, and also in Wisconsin, where I grew up, it's my favorite lichen. The red part of British soldiers is where the fungus is reproducing, as I understand such things. Lichens are a combination of two plants, which can reproduce separately. A lichen, as such, usually reproduces by having a piece containing both of them break off. A wild fungus can also capture the appropriate alga and start a new lichen. Isn't God a great artist? Even more spectacular at the larger sizes.

Bread & Butter

Bread & Butter
Made by Mark VanDyke Photography
Upper Opossum Creek Falls Oconee County, South Carolina Accessed via Turkey Ridge Road (gravel) There are few waterfalls that I return to as frequently, and still get as much enjoyment out of, as Opossum Creek Falls in Upstate South Carolina. I'm convinced that despite the superior landscapes afforded by the high peaks of Western North Carolina, the best-value waterfalls are found in South Carolina! Heavy thunderstorms and summer rain showers have been feeding these beauties (and flavoring their waters with brown sediment) of late. I waited patiently at this location for several hours hoping that the wind would die down and the mist off the falls would temporarily cease; no such luck. I knew it would be the last time that I would see these falls for quite awhile and the conditions were absolutely fantastic in terms of waterflow, but I just couldn't get nature to cooperate with me otherwise. Regardless, I pulled off some decent shots, one of which is above. This hike and this waterfall are uniquely personal to me and the quality of the photograph was of secondary importance in the long-run. I'm just glad that I got to have so many good memories at this particular location.

Waterfall Window

Waterfall Window
Made by Mark VanDyke Photography
Yellow Branch Falls Oconee County, South Carolina Accessed via SC-28 from Walhalla, SC This past week my folks came down to South Carolina to visit me. It was a bit of a bittersweet visit; sweet in that I could finally show my mother and father in person some of the locations that I so frequently toss up here on Flickr. Bitter in that many of these trips will be the last, or near last, that I will make in the near future as my one-year gig with the University is up in May and I'm back to bouncing around the job market again! I'm hopeful to find a new job up in the Asheville, NC area and settle down for the first time in, well, ever really!! But, if not, then it will be back onto the gypsy roller coaster of traveling contractor work within the construction industry. Either way, living in Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina has been sweet and someday I will return for sure. As for having my folks visit--definitely a cool gig to spend some quality time in the mountains...I just wish it was more often than once every ten years or so! Gear: Nikon D200; Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8; Manfrotto tripod Settings: F16, 0.6s, ISO 100, WB 5300K

L'Eau d'Or Falls

L'Eau d'Or Falls
Made by Bill Fultz (slakejustice)
Featured In the Film Deliverance L'Eau d'Or Falls Hawthorne Pool Tallulah Gorge State Park Georgia Featured in the 1972 Classic film Deliverance L'Eau d'Or Falls is the background setting while John Voigt searches Hawthorne Pool for Ronnie Cox who has been shot by a mountain man from the gorge rim and is later featured in the background as John Voigt climbs a 250 ft. cliff wall and when he reaches the top to kill the mountain man who killed Cox. In the film the falls has a much higher volume. At the north end of the gorge is a hydroelectric dam that was constructed in 1913, according to the park ranger, the director John Boorman had worked it out with Georgia Power where they would release large volumes of water to add to the intensity of the scenes. The falls is not the actual falls used in the film when Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and John Voigt go over after Ronnie Cox is shot and where Burt Reynolds breaks his leg. L'Eau d'Or Falls is French for River Of Gold. It's name comes from when the golden sandstone cliff walls are reflected in the water after the sun strikes them.

Martin Creek Falls Revisited

Martin Creek Falls Revisited
Made by West Craft
So I got the chance a few weeks ago to revisit some of the falls I had previously photographed a year or two ago. Equipped now with my 12MP Nikon D5000 as opposed to my 6MP Canon S3IS, I was insanely excited to visit some of these falls again and get a few better quality captures of them. So here, again, we have Martin Creek Falls... revisited! In my previous shot I believe I was actually in the water, but you lose view of a great deal of the upper falls. Here I positioned my camera vertically on the tripod on the deck in front of the falls, as far to the right as I could manage so as to not hide the left side of the falls behind the leaves. And another revolution in my photo besides a new (much better) camera: Photomatix! I processed 3 bracketed exposures for this image. Hopefully the fact that is is an HDR isn't too obvious as I tried to avoid the over-saturation, halos, and ghosts seen in a lot of other HDR images. So how does it compare to my previous? Please let me know what you think!

March Madness!

March Madness!
Made by Mark VanDyke Photography
Yellow Branch Falls Oconee County, South Carolina Accessed via SC-28 from Walhalla Explore #12 on Thursday, March 17th! At 6:30am this morning I found myself trudging through a monsoon of rain on the trail to Yellow Branch Falls. The recent storm decided to stick around longer than the forecasters had originally called for--and I only had a couple of hours this morning to explore. So, I decided why not get a little wet! Early on the trail to Yellow Branch a hiker encounters three creek crossings that quickly alert the attentive to whether or not the waterfall will have any water running over its face. Today, you could hear the water from the parking area and the volume of the fall was very impressive. Shooting conditions were extremely tough as it was transitioning from heavy pelting rain to slow steady rain; all of my shots were taken this morning with an umbrella above the camera and my fingers crossed that the lens stayed dry long enough to get a snap off.

Snow & Skyscapes

Snow & Skyscapes
Made by Mark VanDyke Photography
Chattooga Belle Farm Oconee County, South Carolina Accessed via Damascus Church Road I've had a Smugmug account now for about a year and I've decided to use it primarily as my full-size online image backup repository (secondary) in addition to an external hard drive (primary). Of course, I use Smugmug primarily for selling photographs, but the ability to backup full-size images is a great feature as well. I also realize that I need to spend some more time learning the ins and outs of the platform and utilize things more than I do now. Smugmug should free me up a bit to play around with my Flickr uploads, starting with the addition of a logo courtesy of the free online program, Picnik (thanks Mike for suggesting this when we met this past week). This is one more image of the pastel skyscape at Chattooga Belle Farm in Upstate South Carolina. Don't worry, I'll be moving away from this poor tree soon!! I know that it has dominated my images recently!

Alone

Alone
Made by Mark VanDyke Photography
Chattooga Belle Farm Oconee County, South Carolina Accessed via Damascus Church Road Chattooga Belle Farm is a one hundred and thirty-eight acre working farm in Upstate South Carolina with a rich history. According to the online material I could find, in the 1950s the farm was the largest apple producer east of the Mississippi River. Today Chattooga Belle features an event barn, orchards, vineyards, and a frisby golf course. I come back to this place time and time again whenever I can and though I've said it before, thank you so much to the owner's of this property for allowing foot traffic. The farm is a tremendous community resource and a true hidden jewel. This one is dedicated to my mother who enjoys the softer colors of winter scenes. Smugmug: markvandyke.smugmug.com/Landscapes/Upstate-South-Carolina...

Below Yellow Branch Falls

Below Yellow Branch Falls
Made by Nate Montgomery
This is the last shot I have to post of Yellow Branch. I like the shot in concept. The lower small waterfall is attractive in its own right, and I liked the idea of catching the main fall in the background (though I wish I'd included more of it in this image). Unfortunately, on returning home from South Carolina, I realized that, while I had several versions of this shot with features I liked, none put it all together. This image was shot with my circular polarizer (a mainstay of all of my waterfall images) and a graduated neutral density filter. Normally, I want an overcast day when I'm shooting waterfalls, but the light that came through here was actually pretty decent to work with. Thank you for your feedback. I really do appreciate it. Find the rest of my waterfall shots . This image cannot be reproduced in any way without my permission.

Hurricane Waterfall

Hurricane Waterfall
Made by Sayran
Tallulah Gorge state, hurricane falls. 1062 steps down to the this falls from the parking lot. Very Streneous hike coming up but worth the effort. www.gastateparks.org/Tallulah: One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern U.S., Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. Visitors can hike rim trails to several overlooks, or they can obtain a free permit (limit 100 per day) to hike down to the gorge floor. A suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. Exhibits in the park’s Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center highlight the rich history of this Victorian resort town, as well as the rugged terrain and fragile ecosystem of the area. Additionally, an award-winning film takes viewers on a dramatic journey through the gorge.

Chattooga Belle Farm

Chattooga Belle Farm
Made by Mark VanDyke Photography
Chattooga Belle Farm Oconee County, South Carolina Accessed via Damscus Church Road As you can tell, I'm a bit smitten by the Chattooga Belle Farm. Such a great jem of a piece of property located in a tucked away location at the foot of the mountains. And most importantly, private owners who allow foot traffic on the property when an event is not occuring on the property. If I lived a bit closer I would be elated to walk the grounds every evening before the sun sinks low in the sky. Thank you again to the owners / management of this property to allow the community to share in such a beautiful piece of land. Smugmug: markvandyke.smugmug.com/Landscapes/Upstate-South-Carolina...

Epic Skies

Epic Skies
Made by Mark VanDyke Photography
Chattooga Belle Farm Oconee County, South Carolina Accessed via Damascus Church Road It seemed that the night was going to be a bust--a decent moon that rose too high too fast; a brisk breeze that kept the clouds moving out of the area; dull winter landscapes stuck in their winter browns. Then, the sun slipped below the horizon, some magical clouds found strategic placement, and bingo...the sky became a dynamic mess of color and textures. I wanted to switch out to my wide angle lens, but things were happening quickly and I decided to make things happen with what I had. Happy belated Valentine's Day to the Flickr universe as well. A few different comps of the sunset yesterday evening can be found here: www.markvandyke.smugmug.com

Chattooga Belle Farm

Chattooga Belle Farm
Made by Mark VanDyke Photography
Chattooga Belle Farm Oconee County, South Carolina Accessed via Damascus Church Road Last night's sunset was fantastic! I wasn't planning on doing any photography but the clouds began to part and I knew the sun would make the snowy landscape something special and something rare around here in South Carolina. I raced over to my go-to spot lately--Chattooga Belle Farm--and stumbled upon this shot using one of the orchard trees. For you purists out there, I might be posting multiple shots of this same area as I couldn't decide which composition I liked best--just close your eyes ;) Smugmug: markvandyke.smugmug.com/Landscapes/Upstate-South-Carolina...

Hurricane Falls

Hurricane Falls
Made by Bill Fultz (slakejustice)
Hurricane Falls Tallulah River Tallulah Gorge State Park Georgia The hike down to the 96 ft. Hurricane Falls is not for the faint of heart. Walking down from the North Rim Trail is a total of 311 steps just down to the suspension bridge which hangs 80 ft. over the gorge floor and offers an interesting view of Hurricane Falls. Then it is another 221 steps further down into the gorge for access to the falls viewing platform where this image was shot from. The viewing platform is also access to the gorge floor trail which is very strenuous and is limited to 100 permits a day. If you decide to hike back up to the South Rim trail it is 568 steps from the falls viewing platform. Total steps: 1,100. Total feet to the bottom of the gorge 500 and yes it sucked.

Tallulah Gorge

Tallulah Gorge
Made by ~~Lou~~
During the drive home from our weekend camping trip, Patrick and I stopped at Tallulah Gorge Park to check things out. What an incredible place! We visited for a couple of hours, but this is easily an all-day destination, especially if you like to take pictures. Near 96 ft high Hurricane Falls, this section of the Tallulah River looks south. The Hurricane Falls observation deck is located approximately 350 ft deep in the Gorge and is reached only after a strenuous journey down ~350 stairs, crossing an 80 ft high suspension bridge, and then venturing down another 247 stairs. Even knowing a more strenuous return trip awaits, the trip is well worth it! It's been a busy last 7-10 days and I'm REALLY looking forward to catching up on streams and visits!

Golden Beams

Golden Beams
Made by Mark VanDyke Photography
Chattooga Belle Farm Oconee County, South Carolina Accessed via Damscus Church Road An alternate composition of my sunset & tree farm series of late. It is probably apparent to many of you that I've added a new lens to the arsenal. For nearly three years I shot with one lens: a 12-24mm wide angle. I'm now the proud owner of a 70-200mm telephoto lens that I absolutely love (and has been responsible for most of my recent images). The versatility is really fantastic and the lens has opened upentirely new avenues for me. The only disadvantage now: how to swap lenses on the same camera body when in the outdoors? When in the middle of a stream? Hmm.... ;) www.markvandyke.smugmug.com

Blue Ridge Overlook, Black Rock Mountain State Park, Georgia

Blue Ridge Overlook, Black Rock Mountain State Park, Georgia
Made by MR MARK | photography
Blue Ridge Overlook, Black Rock Mountain State Park, GA Shelly and I headed north on Saturday to get out-of-town. We made it up to this great state park with three scenic overlooks. We originally arrived in the middle of the afternoon and the light was harsh and hazy. After dinner we headed back up again to see if the light was any better and sure enough it was! On the left side of the photo you can see the beginning of some rain that was headed our way. The clouds provided some interesting light and helped show the layers of mountains. This is the middle overlook on the way to the top. At elevation 3,384 feet, it provided the best photographic view (in my opinion). The rain started just as we began walking back to the car.

Issaqueena Falls

Issaqueena Falls
Made by Nate Montgomery
I still have a few shots of Yellow Branch Falls to post, but I thought I'd mix things up by jumping ahead to the second waterfall on my tour, Issaqueena Falls. The head on view of this waterfall can be quite impressive, but I was drawn to this small cascade, which sits just upstream of a substantial plunge. Issaqueena Falls itself is featured in the background here. My trip fell a bit too early this year to catch the early spring foliage. I would love to get back when these falls are a little greener. Your feedback is always welcome and appreciated. Find the rest of my waterfall shots . This image cannot be reproduced in any way without my permission.



Nearest places of interest:

Tiger, Georgia
Tallulah Falls, GA
Bull Sluice rapid
Tallulah Falls Power Plant
  Warwomman Dell
Rabun Bald
Clayton, Georgia
Black Rock Mountain State Park

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