When most of us that live in British Columbia think of Bellingham Washington it’s usually about the shopping. Bellingham is the closest major US city that we can drive to for better prices on just about everything. Filling up our cars, buying clothing, food and dairy products to name a few items are still less expensive than here in Canada.
Some years ago I stopped overnight on my way back from my annual sojourn to the Anacortes Shipwreck festival and while out to supper I noticed a flyer with the words “Things to do in Bellingham”. Browsing through I noticed it mentioned a place called Whatcom Falls Park.
There are lots of waterfalls in British Columbia so that shouldn’t have been a big deal. However, what grabbed my attention was a picture of a stone bridge with a waterfall behind it. I have always been intrigued with the many stone structures built in the 1930s by the WPA (Work Projects Administration). I remember my father pointing out stone bridges and walls along mountain highways and talking about how the government employed men needing work during the Great Depression.
I have wanted to go back to Bellingham for an overnighter so I could have plenty of time to photograph that wonderful stone bridge and the park’s waterfalls. When I mentioned to my friend Jo that I wanted to go there this summer her excited response “Lets go” was all I needed.
I booked two nights at a hotel that included breakfast and we headed off to cross the border to Bellingham to photograph Whatcom Park and the city’s waterfront.
We had a lazy morning and arrived around 9:30 to an almost empty park and were so excited that we ran down the wide dirt walkway to the bridge. Gosh, what a beautiful place.
The park was only a fifteen-minute drive from our hotel and we were surprised to find that the stone bridge and falls that were only a couple minutes walk from the parking lot.
We photographed from the bridge then climbed down the well-worn trails under the bridge so we could take photographs at the base of the falls.
Creatively photographing waterfalls is pretty easy and the long exposures that are popular with water are no big deal. All one needs is a good camera, a sturdy tripod, and some ND filters. I shot with my trusty 24-70mm and Jo used both a 28-300mm and 14-24mm.
There were two waterfalls, the large and impressive one near the stone bridge and a smaller more intimate one just up the creek a bit. We photographed both of them trying different exposures and filters.
My favourites are square filters that I hold in front of the lens as I make the time exposure. I prefer to hold the filter and slightly shake it up and down so any marks on them won’t be visible.
We stayed at the park way past noon and sat in my car talking for a while before leaving to check out the coast.
What a fun way to spend a weekend.
The best word I could use to describe how that colourful park seemed is “magical”.
I didn’t want to disturb anything and even though there were sounds of happy people coming from all around, everything became quiet when I looked through my camera.
I found this quote by American photographer Diane Arbus that perfectly describes the way Jo and I felt as we each pushed the shutter.
“Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.”