Gorman Falls

For more information on the history of Gorman Falls please visit Flying Hats over Gorman Falls by Jack Matthews. The following excerpt is used by permission of the author.

Gorman Falls is located in San Saba County, along the Colorado River, downstream from Bend, Texas, and above Lake Buchanan.  Since 1984, Gorman Falls has been managed, fortunately, by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. An artesian spring, ejecting about three-hundred gallons a minute, provide hand-cramping cold water for the falls. The spring is about one-quarter of a mile up from the falls.  The sound of the waterfall is loud, a low roar, back down by the cliffs, as you walk under a canopy of sycamores, cottonwoods, and pecan trees that give shade,  plunging the ambient temperature ten degrees or more.  The temperature change is so vivid, it is like opening the refrigerator in the house after working outside in the heat.  It is no wonder that the Comanche, the working cowboys of the Gorman and Lemons Ranches, planned their day to be close to the falls when toil eased at mid-day or stopped in the evening, so that the cool air and artesian water might ease their muscles or give good medicine to the tribe.

I know of these things, maybe not the Comanche camp, by listening to my grandmother who tended the chuck wagon for her husband who managed cattle for the ranches.  My grandmother, Effie, took me to the falls many times, always pointing out on the downhill slope to Gorman Falls, “That’s where we camped and set up the wagon, built a fire right there.”  And, I would look and see bleached rocks and junipers, a clearing in the trees, and, yes, the remnants of a fire, her fire, many layers below.  I thought of the cowboys who herded cattle, sitting down and eating beans, cornbread, and beef that my grandmother cooked.  She was not that tough of a woman, of a person, to fix grub on the ranches, but she did.  She followed my grandfather because she loved him and would cook for him and his pardners, as they tended cattle in the blazing hot, anvil-hard earth, Texas sun.  Gorman Falls, with its cool, artesian water, was Beulah land, paradise, relief beyond belief, for them, for me.

Gorman Falls

Gorman Falls – Bend, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 35mm, f/14 for 1.3 seconds at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray LB Vari-ND-Duo neutral density filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.

How To Get this Type of Shot: An image of water cascading down with that smooth, almost silky look to the water.

  • The real key to this shot is the location. Gorman Falls located in the Colorado Bend State Park near Lampasas, Texas is one of the most beautiful spots in the state to photograph. Its well protected location offers a pristine look at one of Texas’ secret hideaways.
  • As with most running water, the key is the long exposure (greater than 1 second) that creates the smooth, silky look. You have two choices in how to achieve the long exposure; a) use a very small aperture like f/22 or b) use a neutral density filter.
  • A wide-to-medium telephoto lens is a good choice for a shot like this since it allows you to capture many different shots from one spot.
  • A good sturdy tripod is a must in a situation like this. I recommend a carbon-fiber tripod for this shot since you’ll be lugging it several miles under the Texas sun to get this shot.
  • As before, the final key for this type of shot is setting your camera’s long exposure noise reduction to “ON”.
  • Shooting at Gorman Falls is best done in the early morning when the light just begins to filter through the trees. Spring and Fall are usually the best times of the year to capture great shots at the falls although a few brave souls have been known to visit during the heat of a Texas summer.

8 thoughts on “Gorman Falls

  1. Wonderful story on the place you show so well and care so much about. Thanks for the link the story and writing is well worth a visit. The history and stories that belong to some of these special places add even more to the feelings the images evoke.
    Thanks Jeff really good post and the image is wonderful.

    • Thanks Ray.

      I’ve been looking for folks that knows the history behind some of the places I shoot and was lucky to find Jack’s blog post on Gorman Falls. It truly is one of the most beautiful spots in Texas.


  2. Great shot Jeff! Thanks for not only the shot, but for explaining how best to achieve the result. We’re looking forward to the Safari this Spring.

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