Waterfall Photography – Top 5 Photography Tips For Getting Great Waterfall Pictures.
At the onset of our journey as photographers we all at one point or another have observed great waterfall pictures where the water looks like silk and takes on a real feeling of movement within the scene and asked ourselves how the photographer created the image. I will spare you the agony, if you do not know already follow the waterfall photography tips below you’ll be well on your way to shooting like a pro.
- Slow Shutter Speeds: The secret ingredient to those silky waterfall pictures is a slow shutter speed. Just how to slow down the shutter speed will come in the other waterfall picture tips that follow but if you can get your shutter speed in the ¼ second to 2 seconds range you’ll find you get a pleasing silky effect.
- Neutral Density Filters: ND filters are quantified by their optical density or put more simply the f stop reduction they provide, which ranges from 1 to 13 stops. I carry an ND4, ND8 and ND16 which give a 2, 3 and 4 fstop reduction respectively. By reducing the light that hits the sensor this allows us to set the shutter speed according to the particular motion desired, in the case of waterfall pictures that is in the ¼ second to 2 seconds range .
- Polarizing Filters: Like neutral density filters, a polarizing filter can help to reduce the light however only by two stops so our ability to control shutter speed with a polarizing filter is more limited than with a neutral density filter. However polarizing filters have an added bonus in that they reduce reflections in the water and on any of the surroundings that are wet and that’s a good thing for the quality of your waterfall picture.
- Small Apertures: There are a few reasons why smaller apertures are a good idea for waterfall photography. One, smaller apertures (larger f number) allow for slower the shutter speeds so you may not have to use a neutral density filter depending on the lighting conditions. Small apertures (example, f/16, f/22) increase the depth of field so foreground and background elements remain sharp throughout the waterfall image.
- Tripod: Due to the slow shutter speeds it will be next to impossible to get sharp waterfall pictures without using a tripod so get used to bringing it along unless you’re going for the ever unpopular blurry waterfall picture. I will even go so far as to use a remote shutter release and mirror-lock up in some cases to add stability on those long exposures. In the case where you come across a waterfall and you find yourself without a tripod resting the camera on a rock or other solid platform will save the day.