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Picture of the Month: April 2016

What should a photographer do when his visions for a photo-shoot fall flat? Explore a little more! See the story after this April's calendar spread.

The stream beside the Bordner Cabin below Acriggs Waterfall
I hate to see things done by halves. If it be right, do it boldly. If it be wrong, leave it undone. - Bernard Gilpin
Acriggs Waterfall

Bordner Cabin, Swatara State Park, Jonestown, PA
In 1939 Armar Bordner, an industrial-arts teacher from the community, along with his students, built this log cabin with on-site material. (Bordner lost his house to eminent domain, but was permitted to rent from the state.) The Swatara Watershed Association saved the cabin from proposed destruction after his death.

Photo Notes: 

Photographer: Adrian M. Nolt
Gear: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 24-70 f/2.8L lens

On Thursday, August 13, 2015, Roy, two of his sons, and I hiked back to the Bordner Cabin in Swatara State Park to see what calendar pictures we could find. If you search for pictures of the Acriggs Waterfall by the Bordner Cabin, you'll see beautiful cascades of water flowing right down toward the cabin. But on this August day during a dry spell, the stream was little more than a trickle. I decided not to spend time trying to capture my vision of a waterfall in the foreground with the cabin in the background. Idea two was to capture an aerial view of the stream and cabin in its little clearing. But as soon as I launched the Phantom 3, I realized that the poor GPS satellite reception under the canopy meant trouble. After several almost-wrecks and nearly slicing one of the boys with the rotors, I brought the flying bumblebee down to earth again. That nixed idea 2.

This photo was captured near a small pool below the cabin. In order to emphasize the pool while still showing the cabin, I realized that I needed to use a wide-angle lens. How was I to keep both the foreground and the cabin sharp? I used a small aperture (f/16) and focused about 1/3 of the way into the scene. While the small aperture setting gave me greater depth of field, it also gave me a slow shutter speed, which in turned required that I use a tripod. And to keep the small pool as large as possible in the photo, the camera needed to be almost touching the water. So I reversed the center column and shot with the camera upside down. Shooting in live-view (rather than looking through the viewfinder) helped me to frame the shot without sticking my head in the water. Roy took this picture with his iPhone.

Adrian photographs puddle with upside-down camera