Rushing River

Spring snowmelt fills the Provo River along Utah’s Mirror Lake Highway in the High Uintah’s. (c) 2016 Tom Kelly

Springtime means water – lots of water. Melting snow in the mountains slowly releases its icy grip and sends it cascading into rivers and streams.

Each spring I wait with anticipation for the opening of the Mirror Lake Highway. Sometimes it comes as late as July Fourth. This year, the road was plowed and gates opened by mid-May.

While most tourists clamor for a spot at the designated Provo Falls overlook, if you wander upstream just a short distance you are greeted by a cascading river with the stream vaulting over two to five foot drops. It’s a photographer’s paradise.

In all honesty, I have a really difficult time photographing waterfalls. It takes patience, lots of bracketing and lots of frames. Not only do you have to find the sweet for exposure with super bright highlights in the water and deep dark shadows on the rocks, but you have to find that shutter speed that captures the milky flow without washing out the detail. Direct sunlight is definitely your enemy! If you don’t have a neutral density filter, it’s tougher to get the slow shutter speed with the f stop range of the lens.

What I especially like about flowing water images is the golden tone that’s created with the water over the rock. I have similar images from Yosemite National Park and Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, Utah.


Camera: Nikon D300S
Lens: Nikkor 80-200
ISO: 100
Shutter: 1/20
Aperture: f 22.0

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