I first learned of Mossbrae Falls while browsing around on Google Earth.  When I’m in a new area, sometimes I roam through everyone’s Panoramio images and see if there are any interesting places I might want to shoot.  When I see a cluster of picture boxes surrounding a little area, I’m hoping to find something interesting.  I came across a small area in Dunsmuir right of the 5 freeway that had 6 or 7 images to click through. 
I immediately recognized one of the pictures from someone I follow very closely on Flickr, Jean Day.  After a little more research, I discovered this little magical place called, ‘Mossbrae Falls.’

AcquiescentOf course, the next question I asked myself was, “how do I get there?”  I did some research to see if there was a trail that led to the cascades, because it looked like the trail was right next to some old railroad tracks. I searched other blogs and forums but couldn’t find clear directions.  Finally, on a long awaited overcast day, (which isn’t hard to get in Northern California), I headed towards the falls, hoping to find the place and avoid getting run over by a train. Moments before leaving, I read on a random blog there was a small, skinny trail that paralleled the railroad tracks. This information gave me a little more confidence I would be able to find the place. I turned into the little community called, ‘Shasta Retreat’, which was built years and years ago and you must see it yourselves to know what I’m talking about.  I crossed the Sacramento River, found a patch of dirt to park my car on, and walked to the railroad tracks. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a trail to be found.  Many times photographers must trespass, hop over fences, climb through gates, and overcome all the other temporary borders that people or companies try to put up.  I decided to ignore all the ‘No Trespassing’ signs that I saw, and head down the tracks. Often, I looked behind me and paid very close attention to my surroundings, because I would have had to jump +10 feet down a small cliff if a train happened to come by.  After 20 minutes or so, I saw a bridge ahead of me and the rushing river started getting louder.  There was a cluster of trees just before the bridge, and I knew I had arrived at the falls simply by the sounds getting louder and louder.  I found a path leading into the trees, kept my head down towards the trail, and walked downhill to the roaring river. When I reached the waters edge, I felt the cool mist and spray from the falls, and decided in anticipation it was the perfect time to look at the view!

Cairns EnlightenedHow do you put a moment like that into words?  I found it impossible…never-ending cascades falling all around me without another soul in sight to interrupt my moment.  Above is the first panorama I’ve ever done and thought this place would be the right time for it.  This single image is composed of 5 photographs and stitched together so that you can grasp the magnitude of this place.  I probably spent a couple hours just staring away at it’s never ending beauty, before figuring out where and what I wanted to shoot.  The first image at the top was already one that I knew I would be taking.  It was a popular piece, most everyone who visits the falls tries to capture.  I would consider the second, and the last image below, to be some of the best compositional pieces I have ever been able to capture.  Both images have a strong and concentrated foreground that lead the viewer into the photographs.  Both images hold a distinct, yet interesting separation between foreground and background, providing the movement of the river that separates viewer from subject. Finally, the subject of the falls in the background came out very well, although I used a very low aperture to create the motion of the water.  All in all, I’m very happy with how the images came out. Honestly, Mossbrae made this very easy for me.

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Brad Goldpaint