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Chapman Falls – Haddam, CT


During the winter of 2013 Cheryl and I visited Devil’s Hopyard State Park in East Haddam. This was our first visit to the park with the intention of photographing the waterfall known as “Chapman Falls”. The day of our visit it was very crowded which required considerable patience when taking the pictures, or in some case, photoshopping to remove people around the falls.

The fall has a 60 foot drop and it’s water source is Eight Mile River. There are parking areas to the just to the north and south of the actual falls. Near the southern most parking lot is a nice picnic area as well. If it was this crowded in March I can only image how packed it will be on a nice spring or summers day.

Swimming at the falls in prohibited and we did see State Trooper patrol the area as there is a road that passes right over the falls. However, it’s a very well shaded and I would have to believe a nice place to hang out for a couple of hours on the right day.

It’s not difficult to get to the bottom of the fall where you’ll most likely want to set up your camera. Park at the north most parking lot. Cross the street to walk to the falls. You’ll take the path adjacent to the fall down to the bottom. It’s a two minute walk from the parking lot. It’s fairly easy to negotiate your footing along the well travelled path.

HELPFUL TIP ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHING WATERFALLS:

1. For the best resolution set your camera to ISO 100.
2. You must bring a tripod.
3. To create the flowing effect of the water as shown in my photo’s you’ll need to “drag your shutter” or in layman’s terms use a long shutter speed. For these shots I was in manual mode and set the shutter to 1/5 and the aperture to F22.
4. I use a small aperature like F22 to have everything in focus.
5. HERE’s the important thing. You won’t be able to set your camera to 1/5 or 1/4 or 1/8 of a second on a bright sunny day without a neutral density filter.
6. Buy a screw on type neutral density filter and use it. This will darken the scene enough to allow you longer shutter speeds.
7. I used two ND filters for these shots. A .3 and a .6 filter stacked together. The combined effect was 3 stops of light were blocked.

A THING ABOUT NUETRAL DENSITY FILTERS:

1. Buy the best money can buy. I would suggest a B&W filter first, second choice would be a HOYA. Reasons being you should never put inexpensive glass in front of a good lens or you just degraded that lens.
2. ND filters are rated by optical density such as .3, .6, .9 etc. They are typically marked on the side of the filter that way.
3. ND2 is a .3 and blocks 1 f stop of light.
4. ND4 is a .6 and blocks 2 f stops of light.
5. ND8 ix a .9 and blocks 3 f stops of light.
6. ND16 is a 1.2 and blocks 4 f stops of light.
7. ND32 is a 1.5 and blocks 5 f stops of light.

It’s your call but a .9 filter and a second .6 filter will allow you three available options (if you stack).  For an excellent source to determine the location of all the waterfalls in CT go here.

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