Geary County State Park (Chasing Waterfalls)

Geary County State Park Waterfall

It’s not too often that you’ll see me up before the sun. When it comes to the golden hours of photography—the time after sunrise and before sunset when you get the best light—I definitely prefer the latter.

Two weekends ago, I did the unthinkable. I, Lacey Brummer, set my alarm clock—on a Saturday morning, no less—to 6:30 a.m. I got my lazy self out of bed, donned my wellies, grabbed my camera, and raced the sun to Geary County State Park and, more specifically, the waterfall that Google said I’d find there.

I didn’t quite beat the sun—it had already cleared the horizon as I made my way along a muddy trail beside the lake. It had been a rainy week leading up to Saturday. The clouds were just clearing off this morning, making for some brilliant morning sunshine over the lake.

Pro-tip: Want to know how to get that starburst effect around the sun? Set your f-stop (aperture) high, and make sure the sun is partially blocked by something so the light doesn’t totally wash out your picture. Just watch out for lens flare—see that big bright spot over the grass on the left? It can be pretty sometimes, but it can also add some weird and unwanted splashes of color and light on your photo.

I found my way along a worn trail paved with fallen leaves to the rocky streambed below the waterfall—a steep cliff that fed a wooded stream. The sunrise didn’t touch the area below the waterfall since the horizon was about 30 feet above the stream. (So much for getting up early).

Because of all the rain and the fact that we were in a flood watch, I thought there’d be a bit more water flowing, but it was still just a trickle, and not particularly photogenic until I started climbing up the cliff face and got up close and personal to the gentle cascade.

I flew solo for the whole adventure—aside from a few fish that made a splash in the still lake water, I was the only creature making any noise. And that, I suppose, is the charm of mornings. I may even be persuaded to catch another sunrise…someday.

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