Burney Falls

One of the most beautiful waterfalls located within California happens to be in Burney Falls.  Driving up to there was no picnic...and clocking in at 5.5 hours from where I live, that is a whole lot of breaks!

We all caravanned up there...about 30 of us decided to camp at the campgrounds for two nights.  In between that time, it was fantastic because not only were we able to enjoy Burney Falls itself, but we were able to venture past our camp and see other aspects of the campgrounds.  Once camp was set up, the first thing we did was go over to the falls.  The walk itself was really short from the campground site...but the scenery was priceless!!

The photo to the right was one of many paths you could take heading over to the falls.  In looking at this photo, you can automatically tell that I used a really wide angle based on how the trees to the extreme left/right are 'bent'.  Some people don't like the distortion but I feel that the distortion in this particular photo creates that feeling of greatness.  This photo was shot with my Canon 1DX with a 17-40mm f/4L USM lens @ 17mm focal length with ISO 200.

Burney Falls

Once we finally reached the actual falls, it was laid out so you could enjoy the falls from various heights.  One of the most amazing things about this waterfall was the sound.  Believe it or not, the sound of constant rushing water makes it feel that much more dramatic.  The waterfall was absolutely gorgeous...and if you go at the right time during the day, you would be able to catch the sunlight hitting the mist that the waterfall creates and a pretty rainbow will appear right in front of it, just like the photo below.  For this particular shot, I switched lenses and plopped my 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens @ 24mm with ISO 100.  I have other variations of the same angle with my 17-40mm lens as well but I really liked how this one turned out.  Another thing to note is that I really wanted my water to be "soft and silky smooth" but not much.  I'm not a fan of waterfalls that just look like a bunch of cotton candy falling off the side of a hill.  I prefer my water to still look like water...only much smoother.  Which is why my exposure for this was set at 1/6 of a second at f/22.  I had to shoot it at f/22 because I did not have a ND filter with me.  

Burney Falls

Making the trek downwards to the bottom of the falls appears difficult but it actually was a pleasant walk, even by my hiking standards.  I don't like hiking since I cannot walk very far to begin with.  But they had railings you can hold onto and the decline down to the bottom of the falls was not bad at all.  Going up...well, that's another story!!  But once you made it to the bottom of the falls, that wonderful rushing water sound now sounded like extremely loud white noise.  It is so loud that I had to scream just to talk to someone an arm's length away.  But the view of Burney Falls at this angle was sooooo majestic! 

For the photo below, I used a very large boulder to keep the camera steady.  Since I did not bring a tripod, that was the next best thing.  I always try to find various ways to keep the camera steady so that if I have to do exposure shots without a tripod, then that is the way to go.  To help the camera "grip" better to a large rock, I found the flattest part of the rock and set the body on that.  Then I took out my iPhone and my wallet, stacked them on top of another and slid both of them underneath my camera lens and the rock for additional support.  Hey...it's only stupid if it doesn't work, right?!

From there, I had my 17-40mm lens supported with my iPhone/wallet combination and placed the settings at 17mm focal length at ISO 400.  I underexposed it about one stop and set the timer for two seconds.  The reason why I set the timer is because I didn't want the action of me physically pushing the button to cause any of the blurriness.  Again, I didn't have a tripod...nor did I have a remote.  I'm using what I had readily available...a large boulder, my iPhone/wallet combo, and the built-in self timer!

Burney Falls

We probably spent at least an hour down there...just photographing the falls, taking turns with photo opportunities in front of the falls and overall admiring the beauty and the surroundings.  Once we were done, we headed back to camp and called it a day.  

The next morning, we decided to walk along this hiking trail to head to a man-made beach front. The waterfall that we saw was one of the few arteries that feeds into this lake.  From what I was told, the lake is usually full of algae but when we were there, it was pristine and perfect.  But along the way, there were TONS of unusual tree formations that I have never seen before.  Just really cool looking trees.  Then there were a lot of trees that had fallen over the years and just 'laid' there all this time.  One such tree was photographed to the right.  

More often than not, you will come across a tree that had fallen.  Many of those trees look very cool, such as this tree to the right.  When I look at this tree, it doesn't appear dead to me...and instead, it appears as though it has so many stories to tell.  I really like the different variations of the earthy tones, which is probably why I took the picture to begin with!  

When I saw this tree I knew right away that I wanted to have that sharp, crisp look to the base of that tree.  To me, the base of that tree which contained all of those earth-tone color variations was the central focus point.  I wanted to accentuate that so I switched back to my 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens just to take this photo.  I generally shoot at 17mm for wide landscape photos but I thought that using the 24-70mm lens and shooting it at 24mm with a 1/25 of a second @ f/2.8 with an ISO 400 did the trick.

Burney Falls

Once we reached the beach front, the view was just amazing.  The water was crystal clear and the kids in our group had such a blast.  A park ranger was making his rounds and I went and asked him about the beach itself.  He told me that they 'trucked in' a lot of sand just to create this beach front but it was well worth it because people use it all the time.  A part of their goal is to make these landmarks available to the public and to share nature with everyone. 

After the water playing was done, everyone went back to the nearby benches to rest but my children decided to rest on the beach itself.  So they sat there together, eating their snacks while enjoying the beautiful landscape and nice blue sky.  That is when I snapped this photo below.  I sat down about 10 feet behind them and rested my elbows on the insides of my knees to try to keep the camera as steady as possible...again, makeshift tripod.  Since this was such a bright sunny day, photographing this was relatively easy. 

This was shot with my 17-40mm lens at 17mm, 1/800 sec at f/5.6 with ISO 100.

Burney Falls

However, mother nature was not done.  By the evening time, she definitely showed a great finale.  Once we had made our way back to camp, many of us just relaxed as the sun slowly went down.  I couldn't pass up a good photo opportunity so I walked to the edge of our camp and noticed the lovely sun setting.  But one thing about this sunset that was different...and it was more than just a sun setting.

Burney Falls

As a kid, when I was playing outside in the streets and the streetlights came on, it was the obvious signal that I better get home.  It seems as though it works relatively the same for nature.  When the sun was setting, the animal kingdom responds by going home as well.  In this case, it was the coveted Bald Eagle that was flying home to its three baby chicks in the nest.  The nest was perched high on top of this tree...and I had the luxury to see it.  I know I spent a lot of time just watching the Bald Eagle circle in and around the nest...land...take off....land again...etc.  Somehow, I reminded myself that I should at least take ONE photo of this creature...and so I did.

The photo on your left was that photo.  Everytime I see this photo, it reminds me how amazing life can be at times.  We all have stressors that we deal with on a daily basis but there is something about being out with nature that hits that reset button and now things are ok.

This photo was taken with my 17-40mm lens.  I did not have a long lens available...and like they always say, "The best camera is the one that you have with you."  This shot was taken at 40mm, 1/400 sec at f/4 with ISO 100.  I knew that I was going to crop it in a bit during post so that was why I keep the ISO as low as possible to get rid of potential noise.  This was one of those moments where I wished I would have brought my 70-200mm f/2.8L lens.

But that is okay...after seeing what Mother Nature has to offer us, I cannot complain at all.  My only hope is that I can remember not just what I saw but remember how I felt.  Not only that, but knowing that I spent these quality moments with the people I care about the most.  That is what truly is important to me.

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