A Guide To Waterfall Photography

Waterfalls are always great fun to photograph and you can get some really beautiful images with even just the basic kit. Lighting plays a big part with long exposure images so you have to adjust your technique depending on the conditions but this article will give you the basics and you should be able to adjust your settings and filters to compensate for the conditions on the day. Most waterfalls are in valley’s or ravines which can create problems if it’s a very sunny day. You will end up with very dark areas and the waterfall is likely to over expose if the sun is shining. Light cloud and no wind are the ideal conditions as there will be a nice even light and the vegetation won’t be blowing around in the wind. Another issue to contend with is water spray if it’s windy or you’re quite close your lens can soon get covered in water droplets which will obviously ruin your image.

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Lenses and Technique

A tripod and shutter release is essential for long exposures and in terms of lenses a standard 24-70mm lens will be fine but I sometimes use my 70-200mm as well when it’s not possible to get as close as I would like! As with most long exposures you can keep a very low ISO and I normally use an aperture of about f14/f16 and use a focus point about a third into the frame to get a nice sharp image all the way through. You don’t have to go that high but I’d say use at least f9. Exposures as short as 10 seconds should give you the desired effect and exposures any longer than 5 mins might start to reveal dead pixels and other issues. There are a range of filters you can use, a big stopper is great if you have one, but if not, even a circular polariser will add a few more seconds of exposure to your photos. I often just use a polariser when it’s too dull and shaded for thicker filters. If you have any graduated filters these can be handy to balance out the exposure with the sky or any sunny area’s.

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How to compose the photo might be pre-determined as many of them only have specific viewing point but when they are open access you can move around a bit more to try and get a unique perspective although this might mean wading through mud and rivers to get the angle you’re looking for. Sometimes it looks good to include more of the landscape and surrounding area but this again depends on lighting and if it’s possible to get a nice even exposure across the image.

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