When building your portfolio, it’s often useful to focus on a particular area that you have the most interest in. Rather than capturing all kinds of landscapes, for example, you might decide to focus in on a particular type of landscape – and why not waterfalls?
There are some really beautiful and majestic waterfalls on display in New England. If you are visiting this area, or you live there, it’s an amazing opportunity to capture some shots that will take pride of place in your port. Here are some of the waterfalls you just have to capture, and why.
First off, know that you should visit in the spring, when the brooks, creeks, streams, and rivers that feed these waterfalls are flowing well and the weather is good. By May, the greenery returns around the waterfalls and provides you with a stunning setting in most cases.
This waterfall is about two hours’ drive to the west of Boston. Once you park up, you’ll have to hike to your destination – this will likely take you around thirty minutes or a little less. There’s also a nearby cascade that you can consider shooting, but the Pitcher Falls themselves are very picturesque. The water appears to fall before hitting a slight bulge in the rock face, forcing it out at a different angle, where it then rushes downwards to join a wider pool. The steep and craggy rocks around this area give it a fairytale feel.
Goldmine Brook Falls
This waterfall is found inside the Chester-Blandford State Forest, near Chester, Massachusetts. It’s only a short hike from the road and those who have been there say that it is easy to miss, so be aware. Impressive rock formations make this waterfall separate into lots of little downward plunges, making it an excellent choice for either long exposure or a quicker shot that will freeze the action. From a low vantage point, the green trees fall away and you are left with a frame filled with grey rocks spattered with green stains and leafy ferns.
Race Brook Falls
Located in Mt Everett State Reservation, in western Massachusetts, this is a series of five waterfalls across the length of Race Brook. Each of them has its own character, which means you will be able to get a series of varied shots just by travelling along the course. The trails are very steep and can be difficult to navigate, so leave yourself extra time and bring along an expert map-reader.
Some of the falls themselves are also very steep, with water travelling down a rock face so covered in bumps and ridges that the water of the brook is almost unable to cover them towards the bottom – so a lot of the rock character comes through. Whether you shoot from above or below, with long exposure or short, you will create a totally different feel at these locations. It’s definitely a great place for experimenting and finding your own style.
The Kent Falls are well-known in the community of waterfall enthusiasts for their great beauty. Found in Macedonia Brook State Park near the Connecticut town of Kent, they are astonishing when viewed from the bottom. The series of cascades continues up 250 feet, and each set is interrupted by a short distance at which the water flows freely before hitting another drop.
If you follow the trails up to the top, you will gradually see each new tier revealing itself to you, peeking out amongst the trees and rocks and coming from the cover of the previous tier. When you get to the top, you can look down for a view of the whole falls, which creates a different impression entirely.
This is a popular spot for visitors, so try to visit early in the morning or be prepared to stand and wait for others to get out of your shot.
Dean’s Ravine Falls
Aside from having a fantastic rhyming name, Dean’s Ravine is also happily situated about a 40-minute drive away from Kent Falls, so you can hit them both in one day. Near the town of Cannan, it features long slopes of green-moss-covered rock with the water streaming down a wide incline. Capturing the scale in both height and breadth is a challenge that will test your skills.
The Enders State Forest in Connecticut is home to a series of waterfalls known under this one collective name. It’s another popular spot so will be full of visitors most days – but pick your timing carefully and you could have a chance at a better shot.
A long and flat ridge of rock characterises the fourth falls, allowing water to plunge down as if in a sheet in multiple locations. This then swirls around a path that has been carved by the passage over time to rejoin in one stream, crashing over more falls before steadying out again.
The third Enders Fall is also remarkable with lots of different angles and sharp edges at which the water falls off – at times it appears more like a man-made geometrical sculpture than something carved by nature. At a slow shutter speed the water appears to come out of nowhere under the rocks, coating the surfaces in white sprays which descend in so many different directions it’s hard to keep a trace on them all.
Situated near to the town of Royalston in western Massachusetts, Doane’s Falls combines a manmade bridge with a picturesque fall that cascades down several stages to reach its destination. There are also more cascades to be found on the same waterway, though this is surely the most well-known and the most likely to make you trigger-happy with the shutter.
If you guessed by the name that this is close to Doane’s Falls, you’re right. It’s just a 15-minute drive to the trail head, from where you must embark on a one-mile hike to reach the falls. They boast an impressive drop of 80 feet, and if you want to capture them at the best possible time, April’s snowmelts make them rage and swell.
Bear’s Den Falls
The Swift River flows by New Salem to create the Bear’s Den Falls. It’s another popular spot for hikers and campers, and those who want to take picture of the falls. It’s just a short hike to the waterfall, which is spread wide over a bulging rock face that provides many little leaps and drops. It’s an extremely rocky area, which can provide some interesting foreground features for your composition.
Located in Florida, Massachusetts, the Twin Cascades have a very special feature: two waterfalls merging into one in a ‘Y’ shape that looks spectacular. Use a low shutter speed to transform the water into ribbons of white and it can even look a little mind-bending: which ribbon is the start and which the end? Does the water flow upwards? It’s a great way to create a shot that will provoke interest in viewers.
Parker Brook Falls/Tannery Falls
Savoy Mountain State Forest is home to a large number of waterfalls, including those listed above. Tannery Falls is 80 feet high, but it does face into the sun, so you’ll need to be careful with your timing to get the ideal light. Parker Brook falls nicely down a diagonal cliff face, interrupted by a large boulder before falling again. The cascades under Tannery also make for some nice compositions.
The Wahconah Falls State Forest is named after this feature, so you can expect it to be a good one! It’s only a short walk from a parking area, so ideal for those who aren’t into hiking. It features a long series of falls carved through ridges of rock, in a curved pattern around and then down to the main body of water. The brook then continues over some interesting ridge land which creates mini cascades and features you may also want to capture.
Screw Augur Falls
The Screw Augur Falls in Grafton Township, Maine, provide a beautiful setting that looks just like a postcard. It could easily be a manmade feature for the way everything is set up just so! A first small fall flows into a basin carved out between taller rocks, which then drops down over the main fall to a shallow pool before continuing on its way. The water is clear enough to see the colour of the rocks right at the bottom.
Head for Franconia in New Hampshire and you will discover Thirteen Falls. Here there is a large gush of water over the falls, before it moves into a small pool followed by a smooth incline. The second part of the flow is so smooth that the water simply streams forward without creating a waterfall, but the rock formations and textures show through in an interesting way.
Bridal Veil Falls
Also in Franconia is a delicate fall that looks exactly like its name when seen with a low shutter speed. It fans out from a tight entrance to a wider fall before hitting the bottom, giving it the requisite shape. The rock formations here can provide drama when shot from the right angle.
Over in Livermore, New Hampshire, you will find these cascades. A thin brook runs over a highly textured and bubbled surface of the rocks, making the water split in many different places and creating a string-like effect when captured. It almost looks as if there is not enough water to cover it all!
Katahdin Stream Falls
Baxter State Park in Maine boasts these falls, which have a very dramatic aspect – they could easily be a movie set. At the top a curved aspect allows the water to fall in several spots between moss-choked rocks, before hitting what almost appear to be stone steps and a large flat area. Over time, the water has carved out a basin here, leaving the surrounding flat surface almost dry. It then all plunges again over a large rock with edges so square you might be looking at a Roman ruin.
Lye Brook Falls
Height is the key at this spot in Manchester, Vermont. If you get the angle just right you can see all the way up the many-ridge falls – they look like pieces of slate layered up on top of one another. These allow the water to flow in short, sharp bursts, and it also separates at one point to give a double-forked appearance.
Dry River Falls
Whoever called them the Dry River Falls might have been joking. This spot in Cutts Grant, New Hampshire promises a satisfying gush of water between the rocks, flowing down rapidly and dramatically. Best captured with the changing fall colours of leaves on the trees surrounding the rocky outcrop.
In Harts Location, New Hampshire, you will find the waterfalls that many a guide lists as the top falls in New England. There’s an ethereal quality in the way the water skips and mists down these many-faceted rocks. It’s best captured with a long exposure that turns the rush into silk.
In Township D, Maine, there’s a waterfall which is thin and delicate, flowing over rocks so sharp you’d think you could cut your finger on the picture. Greenery thrives around them, offering the perfect compositional frame at the right time of year. It’s easy to see why they got their name.
Moss Glen Falls
Head to Granville in Vermont for a waterfall with multiple shoots and splits over a complex rock face. It’s definitely something worth a look, and with a wide basin at the foot, you can choose your spot carefully to make sure you get the best possible angle. It’s a really archetypal waterfall which has a lot of character.
If you’re going out to shoot waterfalls in New England, make sure you don’t miss our picks. This is enough to fill any portfolio multiple times over!