Capturing the New River Gorge on Camera: Q&A with a Local Photographer
With its expansive canyon views, iconic bridge, and stunning sunsets, the New River Gorge is a photographer’s dream. But, from fast-paced outdoor sports to vast landscapes, it can be difficult to know how to capture photos of this outdoor adventure paradise. That’s why we called in a local photographer. Chad Foreman has been photographing the New River Gorge for 10 years and he is here to share his photography tips and inspiration. Read on for guidelines on how to bring back wow-worthy photos from your next Fayetteville vacation.
Adventures on the Gorge: Everyone wants to take an iconic photo of the New River Gorge Bridge—any local secrets for the best way to capture it on camera?
Chad Foreman: The two most popular locations for an iconic NRG Bridge photo are at the bridge overlook at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center and from the small bridge, also known as the Fayette Station Bridge but officially named the Tunney Hunsaker Bridge. The best time of day is either in the early morning or just before sunset. Even better if you can catch it after a storm has rolled through.
AOTG: What are your favorite things to photograph in the region?
CF: Riverscape photography of the New River Gorge is my favorite subject to photograph. I can use my experience kayaking whitewater with my camera to pull over and capture the beautiful rapids. High School Football is my favorite type of professional shoot. I am fortunate to be able to help out the local paper, The Beckley Register-Herald, during their busy season covering football games. It’s a lot of fun.
AOTG: What is it like to be a Fayetteville-based photographer?
CF: It’s both challenging and rewarding. It’s challenging to find enough work to pay the bills and live a comfortable life. Recently, I’ve had to take on a full-time job and just make photography a part-time gig. It’s rewarding because there are endless photo opportunities. With the changing weather in the New River Gorge and the interesting, natural characteristics, you’re never short on beautiful material to photograph.
AOTG: How do you balance taking photos of your adventures with enjoying the moment?
CF: For me, taking photos is what balances the adventure with enjoyment of the moment. Taking out my camera and choosing a composition forces me to be in the moment and really focus on what’s around me in the here and the now.
AOTG: What do you recommend when it comes to taking your camera (or cellphone) along on a rafting trip—is it worth the risk of water damage, and how feasible is it to take photos while on the water anyway?
CF: This depends on your gear. If you have a padded, waterproof case or bag with a retention strap of some sort for your camera, you can get some cool shots. However, if you don’t have the right gear, don’t bring it. It’s too risky to have fragile, expensive gear in the dynamic, whitewater environment of a rafting trip.
AOTG: What can amateur photographers do to add a professional touch to their photos?
CF: Use a tripod for your landscape shots. This will allow you to make a sharper image with slower shutter speeds, especially at dusk and dawn when the lighting is at its best.
AOTG: What is the most Instagram-worthy photo spot in the Gorge?
CF: Long Point. It’s got it all. Stunning view of the bridge with the river below, beautiful sunsets, mountainous backdrop, and an easy hike to get there.
AOTG: When it comes to capturing an outdoor adventure, is it worth bringing a “real” camera or are people better off just sticking to cellphone photos?
CF: I’ve always felt that if you owned a “real” camera, what’s the point of having it if you don’t take it on your adventure? Not everyone subscribes to that philosophy but a small investment in a padded, water-resistant bag is all you need. There’s so much more you can do with a DSLR or mirrorless camera that you just can’t get with a cell phone camera.
AOTG: For everyone who doesn’t have a camera, any tips for stepping up the cellphone-photography game?
CF: Use the HDR feature on your cell phone. Most camera phones have them nowadays. That will help you capture the sky colors without making the landscape too dark. Use an editing app on your phone to bring back the details in the shadows and the highlights. Think about how to best use the light in your scene.
AOTG: Where is your favorite place to take sunset photographs?
CF: Beauty Mountain. To see Chad Foreman’s work, visit chadforeman.com.