Photo Blunders

A photo of Starr's Mill and the mini-waterfall in front of it

Starr's Mill in Fayetteville

Photographing Starr's Mill

My daughter, Ellie, and I went to my parent's this weekend. Ellie wanted to see them for a couple of days before she moved to Florida. I'll miss having her in the Atlanta area, but thankfully she won't be too far away. 

I thought I'd take my camera and get some photos of Starr's Mill while we were there. It's something I've wanted to get photos of for a long time and just never seem to have the time to do it when I'm on that side of town. 

Starr's Mill was an actual working sawmill that also had a cotton gin and used a water-powered turbine for grinding corn. The mill was used until 1959. 

It's set on a picturesque little part of Whitewater Creek and has a mini-waterfall. I can't count how many times I've driven past it and commented on how pretty it was but never had time to stop. 

This time, I was going to get photos!

My Photo Blunders

A blunder is a stupid mistake, and that's exactly the type of mistake I made on Friday afternoon when packing up my equipment. 

I knew I wanted to get some "silky" water photos of the waterfall. That requires a long exposure and the use of an ND filter. The ND filter darkens the photo by several stops, allowing for a longer exposure as the sky brightens with the sunrise. 

The long exposure blends the water and gives it a silky look.

The ND filter I have fits my Nikon 24mm-85mm lens. That makes deciding which lens to take easy! I put the 24mm-85mm on the Nikon and packed it up, along with the filter. 

I pulled out my tripod and put it by the front door so I wouldn't forget it. 

Ellie and I drove down to my parent's house on Friday afternoon. We had dinner with my parents and sister's family Friday evening. 

I got up early Saturday and picked my niece up because she wanted to go with me to get photos. She likes taking my cellphone and getting photos of me while I'm shooting. She does a great job!

A photo of me taking photos at Starr's Mill

Me getting some hand-held shots with ISO 1000

Driving Around in the Dark

We got down to Starr's Mill about 45 minutes before sunrise. The funny thing was, for all the many times I've driven by it and seen it from the road, I couldn't remember exactly how it sits on the property. 

It was pitch black outside due to clouds and a little bit of fog. 

We drove around the property, parked, and got out. We could hear the waterfall so we knew we were in the right place. We walked toward the sound.

I used the flashlight on my phone but we still stepped in a bunch of water and mud. 

Finally, the mill came into view but we were on the wrong side of the waterfall behind the mill. 

We walked back and got into the car and drove around looking for a driveway on the other side of the mill. We finally found it. 

By then, it was a little lighter and I was able to set up...sort of. 

My Blunder

So...what was my blunder? 

I forgot to remove the tripod attachment from the bottom of my other camera and put it on the Nikon!! UGH!

That means I couldn't use my tripod or do any long exposures. 

I was so upset with myself. I don't have a lot of patience with myself when it comes to these sorts of mistakes. 

I decided to make the best of it and do what I could. I shot a few photos on ISO 1000. 

Then I set up my tripod anyway and tried setting the camera on it and holding it down. I thought I could use it to steady my hands for a long exposure. 

It actually worked okay for a couple of half-second exposures.

A photo of Starr's Mill at sunrise on a cloudy day

Half-second exposure - silky water but the mill isn't tack sharp

It was a total fail for the 2-second exposures I tried.

Amazingly, with the ND filter, I managed to get some silky water on the half-second exposures. I didn't get tack-sharp focus, so I wouldn't use this photo for anything professional, but it looks nice if you don't look too closely! 

Muddy Water

We had some crazy storms in Atlanta on Thursday night.

Newnan - southwest of Starr's Mill - got hit hard by an EF-4 tornado. It was about a mile wide with winds up to 170 mph. I was relieved to hear that our Newnan friends were safe. 

You could tell there'd been storms because the waterfall at Starr's Mill was muddy and brown. It made for some interesting colors on the falls, though I think I'd rather see clear water. 

I wouldn't call the shoot an epic fail since I got a few good shots. I also had fun hanging out with my niece.

We went back to my parent's house and my mom made pancakes for all of us. It reminded me of Saturday mornings when my kids were little.

My daughter came up sleepily from the basement and joined us.

It was a wonderful Saturday morning despite my photo misadventure. I'll just have to try again next time I'm in the area.

Photography = patience. And for me, patience with myself when I make stupid mistakes. 

I hope you had a great weekend!

It's raining hard this morning as I write this. 

See you between the raindrops!