Gorman Falls – A Rain Forest in the Texas Hill Country

Another of my all-time favorite spots to photograph is Gorman Falls in the Colorado Bend State Park near Lampasas, Texas. I’ll never forget my first solitary visit to Gorman Falls several years ago before the draught set in. I arrived at the park before dawn and parked my car at the trailhead (shown on the map below). The hike to the falls is only about 1.5 miles, following the trail staked out with bright orange markers, courtesy of the folks at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD). The sun was just rising over the hills to the east and I knew I had to hurry to catch that perfect light that comes only in the early morning hours.

Gorman Creek & Falls

After a brisk hike, I arrived at the end of the trail at first light to find a very steep, rocky descent down to the base of the falls. The climb down always looked treacherous with only a few well defined steps carved into the rock face to guide me. About half way down, there were some steel poles and cables cemented into place and I used those to help control my descent, carrying my tripod in one hand with my camera slung over my shoulder.

At the bottom of the ravine I stood in wonder at the magnificent spectacle before me. Gorman Falls is one of our state’s most pristine natural environments and it seemed as if no one had been down here for years. The falls before me was surrounded by trees with the early morning sunlight filtering through the leaves. The green moss covered rocks and the cool spray of the falls was a refreshing sight after my long hike. Excited at the prospect of capturing this beauty I quickly setup my tripod and camera and selected a medium zoom lens for my first exposures. As I sighted through my viewfinder I knew the long hike and difficult climb had been worth it. I’d found a perfect spot to spend a few wonderful hours doing what I love the most.

Gorman Falls

Gorman Falls – Colorado Bend State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 28mm, f/16 for 1.6 seconds at ISO 50 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer and Vari-ND filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.

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.

  • 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 lightweight 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.

18 thoughts on “Gorman Falls – A Rain Forest in the Texas Hill Country

  1. Hey,

    Nice picture! What is the best time of the year to visit these falls?


  2. Jeff,

    Thanks for the location story. I’ll have to tell my wife about it. She loves finding these kinds of places around the state.



  3. Each day I’m checking to see what you’ve posted. I enjoy all the TX landscape photos (and the birds too), and your suggestions are really appreciated. Thanks!

  4. Beautiful.

    Gonna be in Kyle in a couple of weeks, probably going to try to get by Pedernales or McKinney Falls. Much water in the rivers this time of year?


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