Waterfalls, the pools of water in front of them and streams will always be popular photographic subjects but just because everyone's taking photos of these photogenic landscape spots doesn't mean all of your shots have to be the same as the next photographer who comes along. With this in-mind,let us share a few tips with you on how to shoot waterfall shots that have a bit of a twist.
1. Capture More Close-Up Shots
Instead of capturing the whole scene why not focus on a small area of the waterfall. Focus on movement and colour rather than a landscape as a whole or use rocks that cause smaller cascades further downstream to fill your images with sharp shapes that contrast well against the smooth flow of water.
Photo by Peter Bargh
2. Use Fast Shutter Speeds
When you think of waterfall images the shot of silky water cascading down rocks probably springs to-mind but there's no reason why you can't switch this around and capture a sense of motion and power. If you're working in aperture priority you can set a wide aperture (f/2.8 – 4) to get the quicker shutter speeds you need. You can also bump up your ISO to gain a faster shutter speed. To freeze movement you have to set a fast enough shutter speed to prevent the subject’s movement blurring as it moves across the sensor. What shutter speed you need will change depending on how fast the water is moving so experimentation is key but keeping the speed under one second should be a good starting point.
3. Go Abstract - Shoot Bubbles
At the foot of the waterfall or even further downstream you'll find water bubbles that can be captured and turned into abstract pieces for your wall. Please take care on slippery rocks and obviously take care of your kit. Remember to wipe it down after use and unless you are using a camera which is weather-resistant, such as the Pentax K-3, try not to stand in a spot where spray will be a problem. Shoot plenty with fast shutter speeds and focus manually. For more tips on this subject, have a read of this: Why And How To Shoot Creative Abstract Photos Of Water Bubbles
Further downstream the currents of bubbles can be turned into spirals that decorate the surface of the water when shot with longer shutter speeds but try to not make the shutter speed too long as this will add too much blur and you'll lose definition.
4. Head Out On 'Bad' Weather Days
Most of us aren't fans of rain and cloudy days but after a shower, foliage appears more vibrant and it'll help your image to really 'pop'. Contrast will be lower too which makes it easier to get the shot you want without having to worry about bracketing. Later in the year when frost and ice begin to make an appearance you'll be able to capture shots with icicles decorating banks and if it's really cold, the waterfall maybe frozen all together giving you the opportunity to capture a waterfall shot that's certainly different from the norm. Just remember to be careful when walking at the side of streams and rivers as surfaces will be slippery.
Photo by David Clapp
5. Do A Black & White Conversion
If you think your shot is lacking punch, apply a black & white conversion and you may be surprised with the results. The cascade of water will really stand out against darker, wet rocks and foliage, plus a black and white conversion can often add mood to a waterfall shot that wasn't there in the colour version.
Photo by Rick Hanson
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