Today we will learn how to get impressive photos of waterfalls, since they are beautiful, elegant, have movement, but Technically difficult to photograph, so find out how to master the creative technical aspects of this type of photography.
Capture Your movement
One of the most interesting things about waterfalls is how they move. From the winding flow of water through the rocks to the fall and the sneeze of a breaking torrent, they are always full of energy and animation. The movement is a key aspect of the photographs, so be sure to include it in your photos.
And the key to capturing this move is to choose the best camera settings before you start shooting. Then place your camera in Speed priority mode or Manual mode and make the following adjustments:
Each waterfall is different, and there is not a single “correct” shutter speed to use, but if you want to capture movements in the water, you will need to use a slow shutter speed – usually something between 1/8 to several seconds.
A good rule is to start with the speed of 1/15 seconds and take a test shot. Review it on the LCD screen of your camera and adjust until you get the correct level of sharpness. Don’t worry if the scene is too exposed; We will adjust other settings to compensate for this.
With such a low shutter speed, you will have difficulty holding your camera manually. A firm tripod is an essential accessory here, which does not need to be incredibly large, will depend on the size of your waterfall. No tripod? Support on some rock or somewhere safe and if you are photographing with a lens that has image stabilizer, turn it off if you have the camera stabilized, otherwise it will try to compensate for a movement that does not exist and then yes, your photo will tremble.
Set your ISO as low as possible (usually around ISO 100). This reduces the sensitivity of your camera, allowing you to use lower shutter speeds without exposing too much to the scene, since by less than ISO, it always brings some deterioration of your image, sometimes imperceptible to the camera’s LCD, but visible in Computer and nobody wants to do the waterfall picture of your life and then find out you can’t see big, right? The low ISO also has the added benefit of reducing the amount of digital noise in your photos. And just to remember, automatic ISO NEVER!
Using the smallest aperture of your lenses, such as F/8 or F/11 or higher up, will allow once again that you use a longer exposure time, or low speeds are the same thing. This will also provide you with a maximum depth of field, keeping the most of your scene in focus, as the smaller the aperture (the higher the number), the more things you focus on. In this case, you don’t want to blur the bottom, right?
I’m going to do a review on photometry. For you to get really interesting effects, ideally, you can shoot in Manual mode as you said before, or minimally in Aperture priority mode.
The vast majority of the photos use as the main parameter, the aperture, but in pictures where they freeze the movement or record this same movement, as, in the case of waterfalls, the main parameter is the speed, it is decisive for you to achieve Achieve your result!
You will never be able to make the “Wedding veil” effect with a high speed, so the idea is to keep your photometer At “Zero“, that is, to find the “neutral display” that can vary according to your equipment.
And once you set up your initial speed to test how much you need to make that effect, probably your aperture will vary, as the ISO is set to 100. So the tip is to keep increasing or decreasing the aperture until your photometer becomes equalized.
What cannot be stopped in openings larger than f/5.4 because it will probably stay with your waterfall blurred, the ideal is above F/8, and if by any chance you need more light, nothing prevents your waterfall from being in the shade, or the day may be cloudy , then use the ISO in your favor, can increase it, but avoid ISOS larger than 800, unless your camera is professional or semi-professional and recently launched, this increases and much the chances of your camera cope well with high ISOS. Isn’t that the case? So the next tip might be the solution for you.
If you have already configured your photometry to the fullest, you may not have yet succeeded in making your camera slow enough to make the wedding veil effect in waterfalls simply because you may be dealing with excess light! And then we bumped into one of the biggest challenges of photometry that is, how to shoot at low speed in the sun? Simple, in fact, you will need to use some filters to reduce the amount of light that is entering.
Professional photographers, of nature, use neutral density filters (ND), they change the amount of light that enters the camera lens. That is, if you work with long exposures (low speeds), this filter will allow you to go beyond what your camera can achieve.
In our case, to correct this excess of light, you decrease its aperture, the problem is that depending on the environment you are photographing, still can have excess light, even using the filter, so they are sold to decrease a certain number of stops.
The filters come with markings and the most common are ND4, ND8, ND16, and ND32, which decrease respectively: 2, 3, 4, and 6 stops.
So it’s easy to get incredible results, because the lower your speed, the more effective your photo will have, without having problems dealing with the excess light that the low speed brings.
An alternative is a polarizer filter. It does the same job as an ND filter but has the additional benefits of reducing reflexes (e.g. water, wet rocks, and leaves) and increasing color saturation to get a more vivid image.
Shoot at the right time of day
Bright sunlight can easily ruin a waterfall photograph. Intense light creates strong shadows throughout the scene, making it difficult for you to get the right exposure. This also causes hundreds of reflections on water and wet scenery, which will appear as small white dots in your photo.
To avoid these problems, shoot around sunrise or sunset (the so-called “Golden Hour”) when the sunlight is less intense and more diffuse. These moments of the day make it easier for you to achieve a more uniform exposure, and reduced light means you can use lower shutter speeds. A little cloudy days produce excellent lighting conditions for the same reasons.
Find an interesting composition
With all these technical aspects to be considered, it’s easy to forget the creative side. Waterfalls are like any other photographic motif, and you need to separate a time to choose an impactful and captivating composition. I know that usually the places where we find waterfalls are beautiful by themselves, at least mostly, but the photographic composition can always bring more impactful results in all your photos.
Look for an unusual viewpoint
When we observe a waterfall, we usually stay under the riverbed, a little down, and we point our camera directly to the waterfall. This will often result in a photo we’ve seen a thousand times, so look for an unusual angle.
Spend some time exploring the environment to find a more interesting composition. Try shooting from above, through trees or bushes, behind the waterfall, or from above the river to have a more unusual and creative viewpoint, you will be amazed by the result.
Include scenarios or people
Despite all its beauty, they say that many waterfalls are similar to each other, and sometimes, you get the feeling that if you saw one, you saw them all. A great way to overcome this is by including other elements that add interest to the scene.
Interesting rocks, bridges, and plants in the background help give context to your photo. This gives the viewer a better feeling of where you’ve been and allows them to “explore” the scene visually, creating a more captivating photo.
Including people is one of the most guaranteed ways to add interest to a photo. Waterfalls are not exceptions, and a well-placed person will create a focal point that could be missing. People are also a great way to give a sense of scale to your photo.
Or a car
Photograph in landscape orientation
As the waterfalls tend to be tall and thin, we usually hold the camera in portrait orientation (standing) without thinking twice. Once again, this usually produces a photo just like all the others. Holding your camera in landscape orientation (lying down) may seem strange, but it will force you to use more of your surroundings and be more creative with the way you frame the scene.
You don’t need a super wide angle lens to shoot waterfalls, but the higher the angle, the more you can frame the landscape, and that’s the good news, if you only have a typical Kit lens, like the 18-55mm, you can perfectly make very cool pictures of veil Bride!
Whenever possible use colors in your natural compositions, nature usually has beautiful colors and always harmonious, use in your favor!
Photography of waterfalls can be a difficult subject to dominate. Achieving the perfect photo requires patience, a methodical approach, and a certain amount of experimentation, but the impact of a well-taken picture more than justifies the time and effort spent.
And you don’t need the biggest waterfall in the world or even an incredibly expensive outfit and special lenses for that.
Oh, and if there is no waterfall, you can perfectly train with the provisional waterfalls that appear up in stairs after the rain, which can not train for the big day that you will be facing with that amazing waterfall and leave there with your picture.
What if you do? Do you know any waterfalls in your town? Or do you know of anywhere you went? Shares with us saying which state, city and place for those who know how to help other passionately in this photographic technique so cool!
A big hug and see you soon!