Andre Cantelmo Photography
I recently visited a little gem of a spot in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. Just off Route 112 (Kancamagus highway) Sabbaday Falls is a beautiful short hike, that is rewarding for all those who appreciate nature walks. The purpose of my visit was photography, and these falls do not disappoint. The 0.3 mile hike is short and accessible to most people. There are benches along the way they offer a good way to slow down and take in the details of this very beautiful area. The trail is cinder and well cleared and marked. It is up hill, so a measure of common sense is useful. If you are not a regular hiker, here are a few heads up suggestions. You'll need, good comfortable shoes, water, and clothes appropriate for the weather. The falls itself consists of three tiers. If you are time flexible, then I'd suggest following the weather and timing your visit during the time of year when there has been some rain.
I was looking for photographic subject matter, and there was plenty. In addition to the three major tiers, there are lots of places where moss, rocks, and water create wonderful compositions. Being sure footed is necessary if you want to get up close to the stream bed. I like to use slower shutter speeds for this kind of subject. In this regard, there can be compositions that are 3/4's shade and frequently have a blast of bright sunshine. The contrast ratio can be unpleasant. I prefer a light cloud cover to even out the contrast levels. You might want to bring a Neutral Density filter to help extend the shutter speed. There are trees growing out of the small gorge vertical face, and the green stands out from the Basalt Rock background. Near the parking area, there are picnic tables where you can enjoy a peaceful lunch. Scampering around the tables are Red Squirrels, and lots of Chipmunks. They clearly associate humans with food and are not shy. If you are patient and motivated they would make good subject matter.
These days I like to travel light. I use a photographic vest and only take what I really need. A good sturdy tripod that is flexible is a must. My two favorite lenses are; a wide angle zoom, and a telephoto zoom. In addition I carry a macro lens for closeup work. I usually avoid filters, however I do carry a polarizer and a neutral density filter. The most useful thing you can include and bring with you is patience and the ability to slow down and really look at what nature is presenting to you.
Sabbaday Falls is 74 miles north of my hometown. The drive is pleasant and relaxing. This area is the kind of place I'd photograph in all seasons. It's a subject that reveals more of itself the more you look. I will go back in the fall and capture the rocks, water, and foliage.
It took thousands of years for water to carve out this small gorge. The vegetation that lives there has adapted to the environment and the result is the perfection that nature offers. In addition the sounds of water and songbirds are relaxing and restorative. If you plan your trip mid week, and around the vacationers it is a very meditative experience. My most successful photographs are the ones that capture the essence of my subjects. This is accomplished and made easier when I slow down, look, and listen. My visit to Sabbaday Falls was restorative, calming, and energizing. If you visit and bring the right frame of mind, you will make successful photographs, and leave feeling rejuvenated.