My first visit to the Cascade d’Ardent in France was too short, and I came away knowing that I’d left some great shots on the table. That’s never a satisfying feeling! So on my second trip I arrived with plenty of time to explore the smaller falls upstream.
It’s interesting to see how the water flow changes throughout the year, and I’m always surprised by how much it’s affected by the weather. On this occasion the river was pretty shallow, allowing me to get to spots like this that I didn’t dare to venture into before.
I’ve been caught out a few times in places I didn’t expect to be slippery and it’s always a quick wake up call! When the torrent is weaker it’s easier to get closer to the water, and it also reveals some nice details in the falls you might not see when they’re at at full strength.
Last time I visited the Cascade du Rouget I had to hike for an hour through snow. It was a nervy journey with a few slips here and there. Not my most enjoyable hike in the French Alps! As I parked the car just metres from the waterfall this summer I felt conflicted about the road being so close by. Surely something of such natural beauty was worthy of more effort than that?!
Unfortunately I actually prefer the wider composition of my winter shot. The falls are much more powerful in the summer, and there was way too much spray to get into the same position. I set up my tripod further to one side and started shooting, but it quickly became clear the spray was still going to be an issue.
I had to cover my lens with a lens cloth, start the 10-second timer I use for tripod shots to avoid camera shake, count to 9 and then remove the lens cloth just before the shutter opened. Of course this was not an exact science, and I had plenty of attempts where the lens got wet before the shot was taken or I removed the lens cloth too late. I should really invest in a remote shutter release!
From the car you’re never that close to the torrent that runs through the Gorges du Bronze, but there is a spot where you can park up and walk down to the water. It’s not a marked trail so you have to use your imagination a little, but it’s only 150m or so.
I had the place completely to myself, so I spent a couple of hours just exploring up and down the river. I saw a number of paint markings on rocks here which I think are used for canyoning routes. Have you ever heard of canyoning?
The basic idea is to follow a canyon through the water, rappelling, climbing, jumping and swimming your way down. I’ve never tried it myself, it’s always been the wrong side of my risk/reward scale!
Towards the end of the ascent to the Refuge de Sales is this incredible waterfall – the Cascade de Trainant. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the end of the hike because I’d spent way too much time at each of the waterfalls along the way. This was the last one I had the privilege of seeing on the incredible journey.
At this point I was very glad I’d made the effort to carry my tripod uphill for two hours. If there’s a hike on which you should definitely take a tripod then this is it. And if you’re a fan of waterfalls then it’s like a dream! If you ignore some of the uphill hiking.
I always hate to leave places like this. I would quite happily sit for hours just listening to the water and watching as it works its way down the mountain. Next time I’ll be sure to start the hike a little earlier!
I passed waterfall after waterfall tumbling down the valley carved by the Torrent de Sales. Following the river upstream en route to the Refuge de Sales was an incredible experience. It must be up there as one of the most rewarding hikes in the French Alps.
Over the course of the two hour journey from the Chalet de Lignon there are five or six stunning waterfalls waiting to greet you, each seemingly more impressive than the last. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes! It was a pretty exciting place to be with a camera.
These narrow falls can be found descending the valley walls toward the end of the hike. I was really happy about the cloudy skies on this trip, they created a fantastic mood and made shooting the waterfalls so much easier.
While exploring la Cascade d’Ardent at the weekend I managed to accomplish a couple of photography firsts. Not only did I get my tripod wet for the first time, I also successfully shot flowing water in daylight with a Neutral Density filter.
During the day there is normally too much light for a longer exposure. An ND filter acts like a pair of sunglasses for your camera, letting in less light than usual. This means you can use longer shutter speeds to get a silky smooth water effect, even in the middle of the day.
Somehow this was the first occasion I had both an ND filter and my tripod at the same time in the right location. I had so much fun experimenting with the filter and the angles. I even had a few people stop and watch me carefully set up my tripod in the water. They probably thought I was crazy!
Do you often use a neutral density filter? Maybe you like to get your feet wet in a stream every now and then?! I’d love to hear from you!
On Saturday I walked through the snow to La Cascade du Rouget, one of the most famous waterfalls in France. Nicknamed “Queen Of The Alps” it is known to freeze during the winter months. The temperatures this season have been quite mild, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As you can see it was flowing pretty nicely when I arrived, although not even close to the torrent you might see in the spring!
Last week I finally decided to invest in the Sony E-Mount 10-18mm wide angle lens I’ve had my eye on for a while. This was the first chance I had to use it out in the wilderness. I was really excited to see what it could do! This shot was taken at 10mm and I simply would not have been able to get a good shot of the entire waterfall with my other lenses.
Do you have a wide angle lens? Maybe you have some tips for me? Have you visited any waterfalls in winter? I’d love to hear from you!