Friday, September 11, 2009

It's Not Fiordland, But It's Pretty Cool

Nichols Falls Sign

I only just heard about Nicols Falls while picking up some prints last week. Of course I had to check it out. The track starts just a few hundred metres past the last few houses on the Leith Valley road. We're talking a 10 minute drive from the heart of town, and that's if you get stuck at the lights. I love this town.

Not far from the start of the track, the creek has cut a little grotto that's great for glow worms. Then the track takes you uphill for about 10 minutes to the sign above. It was a little dark in the forest, so I made sure the lettering stood out by using a restricted beam of light. I put a little home-made snoot on my 580exII flash and used my new Yongnuo wireless trigger to fire it. The camera was on my tripod - essential for shooting long exposures in the bush, and I held the flash up and to the right of the sign.

The falls were a popular attaction in the late 19th century when the Nicols family used to charge admission. When I got there, I found that slips had brought a lot of trees down in the little gorge, making it less than picturesque and getting up to the base of the waterfall meant a little scramble. I hope the DCC gets someone up there with a chainsaw to cut it all up and let it flush out one day soon, because it seems to still get plenty of visitors. Right now I wouldn't be too keen to take a little kid close, esepecially if there was more water. Now I'm not too keen on self-portraits, but I needed something for a sense of scale, so if you look really carefully, you'll see me in the new camo top I got for fathers day.

Nichols Falls-4 Nichols Falls CC

Keeping my aperture small for maximum depth of field meant long exposures - that tripod is a must. At f/22 I had the shutter open for 30 seconds. There's a nice little pool at the base of the falls which must be pretty cool with a bit more water flowing - it's been a pretty dry spring so far. Something about the auto white balance in these green surrounds can give waterfalls a blue cast. I've seen it on some of Martin Bailey's stuff and the contrast between the greens and silky blues and white water is something I quite like.

Nichols Falls-3

Here's a stitched picture for a wider view. It's a magic little spot I never knew existed, but Dunedin is full of little gems like this. There's a new MTB track going in on the other side of the creek, so I'll be back to try that some time soon and you can bet I'll be back one night to check out those glow worms.

Nichols Falls wide

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