GREAT FALLS, VIRGINIA REALLY IS FOR LOVERS!
As enthusiastic backpackers, hikers, and kayakers, Courtney and Andrew really enjoy the outdoors. So it is not surprising that they selected Great Falls Park in northern Virginia for their engagement session.
What a magnificent park! Just outside Washington D.C., the Great Falls of the Potomac River are spectacular in both beauty and power, dropping nearly 80 feet over a series of dramatic whitewater cascades. In addition to splendid views of the falls, Great Fall Park is noteworthy for its lush natural forest and its rocky cliffs above Mather Gorge.
Since Courtney and Andrew got engaged in front of a waterfall -- so romantic! --, I knew their iconic environmental portrait had to feature them in front of the Great Falls.
Conceptually easy, but technically a bit challenging.
The easy-access overlooks near the picnic area provide excellent vantage points, but the high contrast between the shaded overlooks and the sunlit falls make getting the desired portrait tricky: If you expose for the couple, the falls get blown out; while, if you expose for the falls, the couple become silhouettes. I solved this dilemma by using a high-powered off-camera strobe to spotlight the couple. With sun equivalent exposures on both the couple and the falls -- and great action from both subjects! --, the photographs turned out quite striking. A lovely setting for a loving couple.
The expansiveness of Great Falls Park, however, made choosing locations for additional portraits a genuine puzzle.
I spent two afternoons scouting the park. During the first afternoon, I hiked along the River Trail along the cliffs overlooking Mather Gorge. Although there are some breathtaking views from the top of the cliffs, I decided a long hike was impractical for a late-day engagement session. During the second afternoon, I concentrated on the wooded areas near the easy-access overlooks. While I found many promising locations, the quality of light was not necessarily guaranteed. So ad-libbing on the day of the session would be the way to play!
I love the portraits we created. They have an elegant, timeless, romantic feel. Courtney and Andrew look so sweet and happy together.
Courtney and Andrew, congratulations on your engagement. In your journey together, may you 'fall' for each other -- and 'fall greatly' -- over and over again!