Change of Plan Visiting Wilkes Dam

A few weeks ago I headed off to Wilkes Dam in Brantford Ontario with a friend. Our objective was to capture some images of Bald Eagles. Well…the eagle only showed up for a minute or two and was too far away to even attempt getting a photograph. Suffice to say we ended up with a change of plan visiting Wilkes Dam.

As a back-up I brought one of my Nikon 1 J5s with me as well as the 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom and 10-100mm f/4-5.6 zoom. I knew from a previous visit that there are some forested trails and some good river views below the dam.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 8.5mm, efov 23mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-160

It was a beautifully calm morning which enabled me to compose a few riverside images with nice reflections in them. Unfortunately the pleasant, sunny weather that was forecast for the day did not materialize. Instead we had dull, grey overcast skies.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160

I took a couple of photographs of the dam and wasn’t particularly happy with the flat, overcast skies. Since ‘Plan B’ wasn’t working out as well as I had hoped, I decided on ‘Plan C’. This approach was to compose most of my landscape images along forest trails where I could minimize the negative effects of the dull skies.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-800

I decided to use my 10-100mm f/4-5.6 during the walk down river, then switch to the 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 for the return journey back to Wilkes Dam.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-400

As I strolled along the forest paths I specifically looked for tree trunks, large bushes and flowers to act as corner anchors. This helps to accentuate a feeling of depth in landscape images.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-160

To add some variation to the colour pallet of the image collection I did a bit of work with curves in post with a few of the photographs.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13mm, efov 35mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-400

I positioned myself in tight to various ‘corner anchor’ composition elements to help create a feeling of intimacy.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7mm, efov 18mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-400

Some of the areas were a bit more exposed and I had to deal with a bit of light breeze from time to time. I shot in aperture priority, using ISO adjustments to help increase shutter speeds as required.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7mm, efov 18mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-400

After returning upstream, I went to the car to get my tripod. I wanted to test out a new set of neutral density filters I recently purchased by creating some smooth water images.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 13.6mm, efov 36.7mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-160

I captured a couple of standard waterfall images hand-held to act as points of reference. When working with these images in post I used the DxO Clearview function to help get more colour and definition from the submerged surfaces.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 33.6m, efov 90.7mm, f/11, 1/2, ISO-160, tripod assisted

After mounting the neutral density filters on my 10-100mm lens and affixing my J5 to my tripod head, I studied the Wilkes Dam waterfalls, looking for some interesting composition angles.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/11, 1/2, ISO-160, tripod assisted

I chose much tighter compositions to focus in on small sections of the waterfalls.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 33.6mm, efov 90.7mm, f/11, 2 sec, ISO-160, tripod assisted

While the visit to Wilkes Dam ended up being completely different than what was originally planned, it still ended up being an enjoyable experience.

Technical Note:
All images were captured using Nikon 1 gear as per the EXIF data. All photographs were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 11, CS6 and the Nik Collection.

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6 thoughts on “Change of Plan Visiting Wilkes Dam”

  1. Hi Tom

    Even though the sky was grey, I guess your hike in the woods went rather well. I agree that while inclement weather makes for rather flat landscape images, it also presents an opportunity to look for other perspectives — macro, long exposure water features shots, monochrome conversion-apt subjects — that otherwise will go unnoticed. Also, at times nature presents opportunities when least expected — instead of sheltering in a room when we were caught somewhat land-bound by a typhoon months ago at a seaside resort, it became an opportunity to try long exposure shots of the tempestuous sea.


    1. Hi Oggie,
      I agree completely that when we adjust to weather conditions we often ‘see’ things we may have otherwise missed! We can often capture very dramatic images during inclement weather.

  2. This reminds me of the place I used to go trail running in Sacramento, CA. The American River Parkway. If you ever have a chance to visit CA this is a great photo opportunity. I really like what you did with the waterfalls and the ND filter. What density was it you used? I think they would make good BW images.

    I recently bought a J5 and love it. On the 13-30 I bought a 46 to 40.5 step down ring so I can use my polarizer and closeup filter. I filed down the outside threads and attached it with double sided tape. It works great.

    1. Hi Jerry,

      I stacked either 2 or 3 neutral density filters, so total value was either 2.1 or 2.7. I may do some B&W experimentation with a few images when time permits. Sounds like a good, practical solution to attach filters to the 10-30 PD zoom.


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