A Digital Journal

Photography by Tony Triolo

Falls Mill Fall

I have visited Falls Mill many times. Located in Belvidere, Tennessee, it is one of the few mills of its era which is still in operation, powering a host of machinery located on three floors. Built in 1873, it started out as a cotton and woolen factory, then became a cotton gin and later a woodworking shop. It is a beautiful building and I have photographed it many times, but on my visit this time, I decided to focus my attention on things other than the mill itself. There are several other buildings on the property, many of which I have never photographed before, including a blacksmith shop and a cabin which you can rent out for the weekend. There is also the Stagecoach Inn, which was moved to Falls Mill from its original site at Elora, Tennessee. I believe it is used as a residence for the mill owners/operators.

Although the waterfalls right at the mill itself are well worth photographing, I decided to spend my limited time at the dam and upper falls, which I think are more impressive and more photogenic. I was hoping that there would be more fall color, but it was just okay. I did get a bit of extra color, however, from some green ivy and pretty pink flowers in the foreground. A fallen log on the left added a bit of interest to the composition.

There is another reason I wanted to bypass photographing the mill itself on this visit. Basically, the mill is just downright difficult to photograph. It sits in dense foliage at the base of Factory Creek, and a portion of the building is usually in heavy shade while the upper section above the wheel is often in bright sunlight. The range of exposure is off the charts. You have a fighting chance to get things balanced out on an overcast day, but even then it’s a challenge. Additionally, the roof of the mill adds its own shadow and the only way to get things close is during post processing.

The way I usually approach things is to concentrate on only portions of the mill which are in relatively similar light levels. I could resort to using high dynamic range techniques or blend several images together in post, but I resist resorting to those methods. It also forces me to look for other compositions which I might not have seen otherwise.

As photographers, we sometimes put all our focus on the main attraction and miss equally, or even better opportunities for making good images. We often spend so much time shooting the object of our destination, that we miss a bunch of other images lurking in the shadows. We sometimes spend so much times photographing the main event, that we run out of time, good light or both. So, I would advise you to always be on the lookout for those hidden gems that may not be so obvious on first glance.

Above are examples of some of the older abandoned structures on the mill property. They could have been an old equipment shed and possibly a barn of some sort. Although I have been to Falls Mill many times throughout the years, I have never seen these buildings although they are in close proximity to the mill itself. Just one example of being so fixated on the main subject that you may miss things that are in plain sight.

November 15, 2021 - Posted by | Photography | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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