Burney Falls

Burney Falls Overlook
Burney Falls, in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, has been on the list of waterfalls to shoot from the second I discovered it. This made all my previous waterfalls look like little trickles. But shooting here exposed a number of issues with gear and timing and so I left with photos that I was pleased with, but not thrilled with. In fact, it has taken me about a month to come back to these photos, that's how disappointed I was with them.
Burney Falls is a unique waterfall in that it has the typical waterfall action of a river falling over a 129-foot cliff, but it also has underground springs coming out the side of the cliffs, which you can see off to the sides of the main fall. So the falls look like this pretty much year round, which is good when trying to plan a trip.

I had originally planned to shoot these falls in late fall/early winter of November 2017 on my Thanksgiving trip that ended in Lone Pine, CA. Due to time and weather issues, that was abandoned. At that time I had visions of fall foliage played up against the falls, or maybe even a little snow. So arriving at the end of March was a different look I hadn't planned on. Spring was trying to spring, but there was still the feel of winter and the sparse trees. But the biggest timing issue was the time of day. I got to the park around 11:30am, just in time for that strong mid-day sun. And of course, the sun was right above the crest of the falls giving some very bright whites and strong shadows to contend with. On my next visit (and there will be a next visit) I plan on being there bright and early when the park opens.

Up Close and Personal with Burney

The other problem that has made itself known to me after the fact is my neutral density filter. This filter, a variable filter at that, is supposed to cut the amount of light hitting the sensor, thereby giving me longer exposures which is what gives the nice silky water effect. The word "neutral" in neutral density filter refers to color cast, or more specifically, the lack of a color cast. Now, it might be the angle of the sun relative to where I was positioned, but in many of the photos I took I have a strong red-purple cast on a good portion of the foliage in the shots. Especially in exposures over 5 seconds. This severely limited the number of Keepers I had to choose from. Since the color cast wasn't uniform I couldn't just use some white balance action to clear it up. Off to the trash they went, along with the neutral density filter.

Take away the photography experience, and this has to have been one of the most wonderful sites I've been to. The park is easy to get to, and the main attraction was very close by once parked. There's an easy ~ 1-mile hike that takes you around and above the falls. I would highly recommend this stop for anyone (photographer or not) if they're in the Shasta County area.

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