As I was driving up to Collins Creek on Saturday I wondered if it was good idea to make another visit up there. This would be the third time I've been up there this year, and I worried that I was repeating myself too much. Along with the three trips to Collins Creek, I went to Falling Water Falls three times this year, and also two trips each to Haw Creek Falls, Longpool Falls, Tyler Bend, Boxley Valley and Flatside Pinnacle. And who knows how many trips out to the Big Dam Bridge - probably too many to count. And hey, the year isn't even over yet.
But Collins Creek is a beautiful place, a playground for photographers. So while you might tend to take the same pictures that you've gotten before, some experience shooting in a certain place lets you find some new angles to shoot (or so I hoped). I did have a certain idea for a shot in mind, and Saturday was the perfect time to get it. Last time I was there I noticed a little whirlpool caused by the current under one of the waterfalls. How would that whirlpool look with a bunch of autumn leaves twirling about? Most of the trees are dropping their fall leaves now, so I might as well try to see what it was like up there. I just hoped that the shot I was daydreaming about actually existed there, and would compare to the shot that I had developed in my imagination's darkroom.
So I continued on towards Collins Creek instead of my Plan B location - Petit Jean Mountain (which I've been to once this year). I again made sure to slow down through the small town of Guy, to prevent getting another speeding ticket. The parking lot at Collins Creek was empty, which is really surprising considering how scenic this place is.
I walked the short trail and immediately looked to see if there were leaves swirling about, and yes, there were! But I didn't stop there first, exploring some small waterfalls further downstream.
The leaves carpeted the forest floor, and did contrast nicely with the mossy rocks along the creek.
I made it back up to the spot with the whirlpool, and quickly started trying to get some pictures. They just weren't turning out like I wanted them too. To get the best movement of the leaves I needed a longer exposure, but that tended to blowout the white of the background waterfall. I bracketed my exposures, with the hope that I could use the magic of Photoshop to merge the shots together to make it look presentable. Luckily I'd try again later on and get the shot I wanted. But until then, here is a view of the leaves and part of the waterfall...
One major difference of this Collins Creek trip is that I didn't wade into the creek. It was about 45 degrees out, cloudy and with a strong wind. The water was probably a bit to chilly to stand in barefoot. So I crouched on some rocks to get a few shots.
(OK, I did cheat and put that leaf there)
I carefully hopped across some rocks to the other side of the creek, and found a bright patch of leaves that had settled by the creek. If I had waited a week or so to visit, most of these leaves would have probably washed away. So it was good I made it up there, I thought.
Collins Creek, if you're interested in making a visit, takes just about an hour and a half to reach from Little Rock. It's located in the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, near the dam and hatchery at Greers Ferry Lake. It still seems like a bit of a secret (don't tell!), in fact I only saw four other people out there the entire time I was at the creek.
It was starting to get dark, to the point where it was difficult to get the camera to focus. I made one last visit to the whirlpool, and took a quick picture to see what it looked like from the opposite shore of the creek. Since it was so much darker, I was able to get a good exposure on both the falls and the leaf swirl. So even though the light was fading fast, I carefully hurried to the other shore to try to get my dream shot again. And amazingly, it even turned out. I haven't quite decided on which one is the best shot so far, but this is the one I'm liking the best at the moment. It's a 15 second exposure, and one of the very last pictures taken on the trip.