Waterfalls are among my favourite landscapes to shoot. I could spend hours looking for new perspectives and shooting the longest of all long exposures. Today, I will leave you 3 useful tips that will help you get a better waterfall photographer.
Written by Anskar
Composition is key (as always)
Guess what? All the rules you know for landscape images are applicable to waterfall photography as well. Make sure to make your image interesting, to compose it and to leave an eye catcher somewhere in your image (preferably in the golden ratio and not necessarily a maple leaf). Try to work with the rules of third and let the water(fall) be dominant, but not too compelling! Interesting subjects can be found all around waterfalls, such as leaves, fern, distinctive rocks or wood. Try to work these objects into your picture.
Smooth it up
What I love about waterfalls is that you can let your creativity run loose, especially with long exposures you can create some magical pictures.
Best for these kinds of shots are ND filters, a polarization filter and a tripod. But this shouldn’t indicate that you can’t shoot long exposures without this kind of equipment. You don’t need to buy all that gear just to create better pictures, it just makes it easier! If you don’t have a ND Filter you can just shoot waterfalls around sunrise or sunset and stop down the aperture. Often 2 – 5 seconds are already enough to make the waterfall look smooth (that’s why waterfalls are always a good option on a cloudy day!).
Long or short?
Depending on the waterfall, it is not always advisable to shoot a long exposure of several seconds. While it works pretty well with small or calm waterfalls, a lot is actually lost when trying to smoothen a very powerful and strong waterfall. My rule is the more powerful the waterfall seems, the less convenient will a long exposure look. With a powerful waterfall I want the very opposite of smooth and calm water. I want to show its power and freeze every single drop. Instead of working with a tripod and ND filters I try to set a very fast shutter speed (even if that means I need to push up the ISO).
In the end it’s your decision, taste and perception that decides how you want to shoot and present a waterfall. Is it a magical and hidden place or does it powerfully show of which strength water is capable of? And that’s what I like most about waterfalls, everyone is seeing them different!
When was your last time shooting waterfalls? And which one was it? Let us know in the comments!