Thursday, February 10, 2011

Buttermilk Falls - Beaver Falls PA - Winter High School Portraits part 1

Buttermilk Falls Portraits
Buttermilk Falls - Tremendous Photography Opportunities - part 1

One of my favorite local areas to do portrait photography is at Buttermilk Falls.  I am positive that I am one of many Pittsburgh and Beaver County Photographers that enjoy photographing this beautiful 'hidden' area of our county.  A few years ago I noticed a small sign off the PA turnpike for Buttermilk Falls.  I immediately pulled into a very small parking lot and starting walking the path toward the falls.

With tremendous anticipation, I climbed the steps and winding hill side toward what proved to be a beautiful site.  Along the path are man made benches from fallen trees and some stone.  The steps were made by a local group and cut into the hill side to make the journey to the falls easier.  (Unless you are carrying lots of camera gear.)  On this first trip, I was in dress shoes and not prepared for the trip.  However, the further I journeyed, the greater my heart raced in anticipation.  I believed I found a 'perfect' spot to photograph locally.  (Proving in my mind that there are many hidden gems in our back yard.)

Although the walk is a strong uphill climb, I began to run up the steps and along the path.  On the left toward the falls is a major drop off that will take you to a stream of water and bed of rocks.  On the right are many trees and beautiful stone cut from many years of cutting from years ago.  My mind raced at all the opportunities that existed and every time I walk the trail, my mind continues to see new opportunities for photographs.  I believe years can be spent in this area (although not very large) and never see all of the beauty that is in the area.

When I finally reached the falls, I noticed all the rock and stone that surrounded it.  Although the actual water isn't very large, the sound is tremendous and above it is a train track that is still very active.  There are many different areas that appear to be caves but are not very deep and make beautiful backdrops for portraits.  (More about my first encounter in another post.)

Over the past few years, I have shot wedding, engagement, family, group, and high school portraits, at Buttermilk Falls, and the area adjacent to it.  The images in this post are from a recent High School Portrait session that completed all four seasons of portraits.

A winter portrait session at Buttermilk Falls in Beaver County, PA.

Skiing Portrait

The second photograph was taken on one of the steps that lead to the falls.  Allison was lit with a strobe to the left of the camera on a light pole held by her mom.  Since the weather was very cold, I used two cameras and didn't swap lenses.  The lenses that I used on my Nikon D300/s were the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and the Nikon 70-300 vr.

I didn't want to take the chance of snow blowing into the camera and had both cameras ready prior to arriving at Buttermilk Falls.

Normally when I photograph at Buttermilk Falls, I encounter someone enjoying the beautiful setting.  Although we didn't encounter anyone I am sure others visited the falls during the weekend after this beautiful snow fall.

Buttermilk Falls Senior Pictures

In the third photograph, I had Allison sit on a stone in one of the 'caves'.  Although the cave is barely deep enough to sit, it makes a beautiful setting and proved to be a tremendous wind stop.

At this point in the shoot, the wind and snow was blowing but Allison was a trooper and endured the brisk temperatures.

More about Buttermilk Falls in the next post - until then - Get out and enjoy all of the beautiful photo opportunities in your back yard