Learning to photograph waterfalls is some of the most fun I have had in photography. I struggled a lot at first but took some time to hang out with another photographer name Steven Hunter. We’ve known each other for years; I learned a lot from Steven. He called to say he was going to photograph some waterfalls at Mount Magazine in Paris, Arkansas.
I got my camera gear and a raincoat because it started to sprinkle, but the storms would be gone soon. My aunt Kathey came along as we spent many years together traveling the countryside. When we got to our location, the rain had stopped, and it was partly cloudy. My first couple of shots did not work. So I ask Steven for some advice. Let me share his first tips of many.
You can use a wide range of F-Stops depending on how much depth of field you want in your shot. Remember, the larger the number means more depth of field, but less light will reach your sensor. You can use exposure compensation if needed. I use Aperture priority for most of my waterfall shots. If you want to do a lot of experimenting, use the manual mode.
The metering mode I use is centered weighted, sometimes spot metering, depending on the light I’m shooting in. Something else that is very important is a tripod and cable release. The one thing I think most people like in waterfall photos is how the water can look smooth in the image.
You will use a long shutter speed to create that effect. So you don’t want the camera to shake when making those kinds of images.
You might be surprised when you go online to find waterfalls in your area. However, there might be more than you thought. I discovered that myself when doing some research on waterfalls in my area.
Make sure you have permission to access the waterfalls you think you might be on private property. I have had an old man with a shotgun chase my aunt off his property in Ohio when we saw such waterfalls off the side of the road. We kept walking because we could see about 50 yards off the road; the waterfall was pretty big.
He came running screaming like crazy, so we took off; thank god he did not shoot at us, so be careful when your hiking around looking for waterfalls to photograph.
One of many things you will need will be some filters like a neutral density filter or a circular polarizer. Don’t forget your tripod and cable release. Always bring a raincoat for you and your camera.
Bring a lens hood and some lens cloths to wipe away the moisture on your lens. Bring a wide-angle lens if you have one. I like to bring an 85mm lens also.
When to shoot.
The best time to photograph waterfalls is on an overcast day. It makes for some beautiful light. You won’t have to deal with harsh shadows on a cloudy day. Early morning and into the evening is the perfect time to go out.
I hope these tips can help with your waterfall photography. Remember, have fun and be safe.
By Michael Vance Pemberton
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