The water-powered grist mill is the only remaining one left in the county, which is home to North Carolina's capital city, Raleigh, the state's second largest city (behind only Charlotte).
Raleigh is Wake County's only city, but the county of 857 square miles is home to several incorporated towns -- Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, Garner, Fuquay-Varina, Zebulon, Wendell, Knightdale, Rolesville and most of Morrisville and Wake Forest.
Despite all of that urban development, there are plenty of open, rural/rustic areas -- and county parks, not to mention one state park and portions of two others (I had visited, William B. Umstead State Park -- the one wholly inside Wake County -- in December 2014 and did a post about my shoot there in this blog).
Yates is the third county park I've visited; I didn't do any photography during previous stops (both short) at Lake Wheeler and Lake Benson parks, but those are on my list. They, too, are relatively short trips from my home.
I've mentioned the grist mill and lake at Yates Mill, but not the water falls, which doesn't get a lot of mention in official writeups of the attraction. The falls, positioned alongside the mill, is the most fascinating of the park's features. One view of the falls is depicted in the photo leading off the post.
As usual, click on any photo to pull up a larger, sharper version. This is particularly helpful when accessing the blog while using a mobile device. A full gallery of images from my shoot there Oct. 25 can be found at my site at Smugmug.com.
Photo geek stuff: I shot photos during my visit with my Canon 6D equipped with a Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di PZD VC lens. The lens was capped with a B+W polarizing filter. I bracketed all compositions for three exposures to allow me options to use single frames or meld all three exposures into a single shot using Photomatix high-dynamic (HDR) software in post-processing. I used a mixture of single-frame and HDR photos for this post.
Above and below are a couple shots (there will be others in this post) where bracketing my exposures and processing them through Photomatix software saved the pictures because of the back-lighting I was battling. I visited the park in the early afternoon -- not ideal by any means -- for dramatic landscape images -- but on this day, it was a necessity because of time management that day. The wall you see above, which flanks a path descending to the falls area (see pictures below), came out dark in all three of the exposures, showing a hint of detail in the +2 version. That hint of detail in the +2 image (along with a little help with the shadow slider in Photoshop Elements) catapulted me to recover the detail you see above. Same situation with the "front" side of the mill below. It was almost all dark on the individual images except for a hint of detail in the +2 exposure. Again, the melding and shadow slider boost in PE enabled me to get to this.
Above: This is a single-frame shot of a building near the mill. I was pretty pleased with it, although it helped that the sun lighting angle was ideal in this case.
The grist mill (above) from the side of the power-generating wheel and waterfall. Next three shots below are various looks and/or detail cuts of the waterfall, followed by a shot of the mill from the trail that circles the lake.
Above: On the path leading to the mill from the parking lot, you come across these antique turbines. I recalled seeing similar implements at the grist mill that is a hallmark feature at Indiana's town of Metamora.
Above: A look at the lake, or pond, from the start of the circular trail not far from the mill. On Oct. 25, you were seeing only a hint of leaves changing color at Yates Mill.
Above: I can't say I've ever seen a waterfowl feeding station in water like this before. Could be because I haven't been to enough wildlife preserves. But I liked the reflection it gave me for this composition.
Above: At just about the halfway point around the lake along the circular trail, one comes across this structure, identified by signage as an instruction center. I'm guessing guests (many of which might be schoolchildren) who take tours of the grounds stop here for a short spell to learn things from their tour guides. I would not have been able to pick up the detail -- and color -- in the roof that you see here without processing it in HDR software. A couple other angles of this building can be found in the full gallery.
Above: I photographed this long pedestrian bridge -- from which visitors can start their trip around the lake (I chose the opposite the direction, ending the trip at the bridge) -- from several perspectives, all of which you can see in the full gallery. I present this one in the post, taken through brush along the lake on the circular trail opposite the bridge, because of its (attempted?) artsy effect.
I suppose the highlights of my shoot can be found in the photos above and next two below, where having the reach of a 300mm lens enabled me to get close enough to photograph the blue heron and turtle sharing space on a branch (above), a swan (and its reflection) appearing to guard its nest (first below) and a different log on which three turtles were resting (second below). I shared info on where to find the heron and swan with two women I met on the trail right after I photographed them (but before I got to the log shown in the third photo below). In return, they told me about the turtles log ... and said the log at one point had been loaded with turtles until another individual came by, made a noise and scared them all away. By the time I got there (quietly so), three of the turtles had climbed back on.
Above: I'm about three-quarters around the lake at this point. You can see a small bit of the mill on the far right ... and some of the tree reflections in the lake.
This tree, which I came across while crossing the wooden pedestrian bridge, jumped out at me.
Above: I photographed the park's modest amphitheater from several angles (all of which you can find in the gallery), including several showing the whole facility. I liked this the best because you get a neat grouping of trees in the background with a slice of amphitheater seating.
Above: If you start the trail from the start of the pedestrian bridge not far from the parking lot and amphitheater, you began with this view of the park. Again, I encircled the lake from the opposite direction, and came upon this by turning around at the end of my journey.