This area is really super super wet much of the year as practically a true rain forest, so everything is extremely green and soft looking. Panther Falls are very powerful and have numerous cascades coming down about 100 foot cliff into a ravine below. There's a nice view from the top of the falls via a wooden observation deck. getting down to the deck is very easy once you find the trailhead, which is basically an unmarked trail from the road. The entrance to the trail is marked by spray painting on the pavement "PF -->" in blue...you gotta look really closely just to find it.
For me however, the vantage point from the deck doesn't really show the power of these majestic falls, so I wanted to make my way down the cliff to the base of the falls. Looking down, you could tell human traffic had been below in the canyon by the falls as the moss next to the stream was trampled a bit. So there had to be a way down somewhere, somehow. Of course, I found out that there's no easy or safe way down, at least not from the observation deck. I scouted the area and managed to find a treacherous little natural staircase winding down the cliff's face for about 20 feet to a more manageable slope that had a rough trail others have used. These super narrow little natural rock steps were very wet and mossy, but there were pretty good hand holds and foot holds using trees, roots, and rocks down this small portion of the cliff located south and above the observation deck. I muscled up some courage and told my self I could do this climb if I take my time. So when I did climb down, I made sure to maintain three points of contact at all times as I slowly make my way down with handholds and footholds that were slick but stable. This was a path that has been obviously used before, but probably not when its real wet like when I went down on this day.
With this being a short weekend flight to Portland, my dog and my muse, was unable to join me on this trip (and his presence was truly missed). This is one of those cases where if the Dude (my pup) had been with me, he would have moderated me as I would not have gone down this way because he would not have been able to follow me safely. I guess in this way, he sort of looks out for me...as I always look out for his safety, and in doing so, being safer comes back to me. Part of the way down this small cliff, I even had to throw down to the trail below my tripod and my waders that I was caring...I had them attached to my camera backpack and they were snagging things making the climb a bit more dangerous than it already was. By tossing them down, I was able to better balance out my pack and make myself a little bit more agile in the tight spaces.
So, I did make it down safely, however this was probably not the smartest and safest way with me being alone. Had something happen to me, who knows how long I would have been there before someone would have found me for this is a very remote area. Once I was down, I did manage to find a better way out that climbed up to the road about 2 tenths of a mile south of the "trailhead." Not exactly calming and safe, but definitely a much better way in and out...still quite steep and very sketchy, but much smarter and safer than scaling down a 20 foot cliff in the wilderness in the wet and so forth. I will visit these falls again in the future, and this will be the route I will choose, especially when the Dude is with me.
At the base of the falls, there was tons and tons of mist being thrown off from the falls. Extreme wetness in the air. So there was no way I would be able to do a long exposure here in the ravine at the base of these falls. I did some tests, and it seemed like no longer than about 10 seconds was possible with all the missed hitting my lens. So I opted for about a 3 second exposure, which is the time for the composition that you see here. I had to clean my lens after every shutter release, it was that wet out. This image is actually a composite of two images stitched together using Adobe Photoshop PhotoMerge since the area is impossible from the bottom to shoot with just one frame. So I had to shoot two frames and put it together and make a 1:2 ratio image which is what you see here.
This spot had rampant beautiful mossy greens everywhere, dotted with some fall color...and there was low light filtering in from Sun which was about an hour from setting. This made for real nice soft colors and allowed me to hold a three second exposure at f/22 using no filters whatsoever.
Camera Settings: ISO-100, 30mm at f/22 for 3 seconds taken at 5pm on Saturday 10-18-2014