I never used to have much respect for photographing waterfalls. It just felt too cliche for me. But my time with our local photography group instilled in me a love for these cascading waters.
Oregon has so many to offer, it’s hard to get bored.
These are what I do to make a successful waterfall shot:
- I use a tripod – this is essential for long exposures (see #4).
- I use an ND filter – this is essential for allowing for long enough shutter speeds in bright daylight.
- I use a polarizer filter – this is essential for cutting out water glare and bringing out richness in the colors of the sky and leaves (I don’t always use both an ND and a polarizer; depends on how much light is present).
- I shoot long exposures – at least 1 second is a good rule of thumb. Much longer than that could obscure too many details, and shorter doesn’t quite get enough water blur.
- I try to get low to the water for a more unique perspective.
- I manually focus on an interesting point in the foreground – this could be a rock, tree, or leaf.
- I use a remote trigger or 2-second shutter delay to avoid camera shake.
- I try to frame the shot as interestingly as possible.
This is why I use a polarizer. These images have not been edited; the only difference is the presence of a polarizer in the second image.
I have a new appreciation for waterfalls. Good thing there are so many around me upon which to practice!
Questions? Leave them below; I’d love to hear from you!