Photographing Waterfalls

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Scouting Area

When you know of an area with waterfalls scout it out and find the best possible areas to get the greatest picture possible. Keep in mind weather forecasts and lighting at different times of day. Before and after a storm give the most dramatic sky photographs, so if you are going to incorporate the sky into your photograph keep this in mind. The best lighting is around sunset and sunrise. At sunset you get warm colors and at sunrise you have cool colors. When scouting out the area you will have to find out are you going to get enough light at the water fall at sunrise or sunset. Will you have to go later in the day when there is more light coming through the trees. In order to get a nice photograph with the water soft and showing motion we will need a long exposure. When taking photographs with long exposures we will need to use a tripod.

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Setting Up

With the area scouted and the best suitable time figured it is time to set up. We will want to show up approximately a half hour early so when lighting reaches the peak moment we are ready, this moment will only last a matter of seconds. So get to the location take a flash light with you if you are going to be out before or after the sun. Always let some one know when and where you are going just in case something happens they will know when to expect you, and if you are not there something is wrong. Set up your tripod and place camera on tripod, look through the view finder and check the edges for objects that don’t belong. Make sure you have the angle and composition all set and ready for when the moment arrives. If the photograph is being taken later in the day a split neutral density filter may come in handy to get proper exposure between sky and waterfall, and to increase shutter time. We want to use a long shutter speed to capture the water moving and make it blurred, this will give it a soft look and show it moving. There are also different tinted split nd filters and they can make unique looking water and sky photographs. Take extra photographs and bracket the exposure. You don’t want to think you have a great photograph and just missed it by a hair, so overshoot you will not be disappointed.

This could be an opportunity to play around with the HDR (High Dynamic Range image). If you don’t know what this is do a search on a search engine for hdr image and check them out, they are awesome. If you shoot raw then you can develop your image multiple times with different exposures in the raw processing program. You will need at least one highlight, shadow, and mid range exposure.


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