The Lincoln Brook stretches from the top of Vermont’s Lincoln Peak and runs all the way down to the Mad River near Warren, Vermont. Towards the bottom of the brook, there is a breathtaking series of waterfalls along a short but popular walking trail. The falls themselves ebb and flow with the seasons, sometimes running heavily and sometimes drying to a trickle. On this particular visit, they were running at full flow after a torrential rainstorm had passed through the area a few days prior.
I had arrived at the falls around noon on what was a relatively sunny day with some clouds. I had left my camera in the car because capturing a photo at this time of day is usually impossible. Midday sunlight is generally too harsh for landscapes, especially in the woods where you end up with chaotic shadows and light that create distractions in a photo. But as I walked along the falls, something incredible happened. A cloud covered the sun, and the harsh light and shadows were replaced with an even smooth light that transformed the scenery into something magical.
I ran back to the car and grabbed my camera gear and then returned to the falls – timing my photos with the movement of the clouds across the sun. Fortunately, there were enough clouds in the sky that I had several opportunities to take photos as the light changed from harsh to smooth and back again.
Lesson learned: Even at midday you can get great light in the right conditions. Transient cloud cover can smooth out harsh light and transform a scene into something completely different.