Side view of Stametz Dam (2015)

Side view of Stametz Dam in Hickory Run State Park. It was so warm on Christmas day in eastern PA we decided to take advantage and go for a hike on the Shades ...
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Side view of Stametz Dam in Hickory Run State Park. It was so warm on Christmas day in eastern PA we decided to take advantage and go for a hike on the Shades of Death trail.
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Behind The Lens

This is a picture of Stametz Dam located in Hickory Run State Park in Pennsylvania. My husband & I have a home nearby so we tend to spend a lot of time at Hickory Run SP and this dam happens to be found along one of my favorite trails.
We didn't decide until after lunch to go over to the trail. Since it's a short drive and only a 3+ mile round trip hike, we only needed a few hours to do the hike. This was taken in late afternoon/early evening.
There is a lot of tree cover in that area except right at the dam. When doing a full-on shot I'm usually standing on rocks in the water so there's a lot of shade (which also means shadows). For this side shot I had to get up closer to the water so tree canopy is gone. However, it was a somewhat overcast day and with a CP filter I was still able to get the 'silky water' effect that I like to do for waterfall shots.
I'm not much for hiking with a tripod. I do hike with a monopod but often don't use that either. I tend to find a tree trunk or branch to use to stablize myself/camera. With no trees nearby I did this one hand-held. I like to use the lcd display instead of the viewfinder and pull the camera out from my body so that the camera strap is tight. This seems to help keep the camera steady enough for taking the picture. Of course, this method wouldn't work for an extremely long shutter release but for a couple of seconds it works for me.
I love waterfalls even ones that aren't necessarily naturally occurring. This dam is a combination of man-made and natural waterfall since the dam was built on top of a naturally occurring rock ledge along Sand Spring Run. There are other dams along this run but Stametz Dam is the prettiest of all of them. I like how the water drops straight down then hits the rocks below and cascades down from there.
I shoot in raw so I process just about everything through Photoshop. Working first in Adobe Camera Raw, I'll usually bring up the shadows, bring down the highlights and play with the vibrance and saturation. When everything else is done I'll usually sharpen the image a little bit too. I then import it into the Photoshop Editor, do some fine tuning if necessary and save the image.
In my camera bag
I converted a backpack to use as my camera bag so I could carry my camera and other gear. I always carry an extra battery, CPL and neutral density filters and extra memory cards. I usually also have my zoom lens. Tucked in various pockets there are also lens cloths, a solar cellphone charger, lens wrench (I had a CPL filter get stuck once and ended up having to stack the neutral density filter on top which I wasn't happy about), bug spray, chapstick, a water bottle, and probably other things that I just can't think of at the moment.
Take your time. Practice. Shoot in raw (requires a raw editor though). Find other photographer's images that inspire you and try to duplicate them - it will force you to learn more about your camera, more about different techniques, more about lighting. Use the internet - there are tons of tutorials and videos online. Find what inspires you. I like waterfalls, mountains and nature so that's where most of my photos are shot. But nature/landscape photography is much different than portrait, city-scapes, architecture, night sky/star trails and other photography. If you find a subject you enjoy you'll be more likely to want to learn. Then, what you've learned about using your camera, can be used in other environments as well.

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