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7 Top Waterfall Photographers on ePz

Here's a quick round-up of just some of the top waterfall photographers on ePHOTOzine.

|  Landscape and Travel
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'Cascades II' by jeanie

How did you get in to waterfall photography?
I am not quite sure how I "got into" waterfall photography. I have always loved waterfalls and taken photographs in my younger years, in the Lake District and Ingleton. This was way before I got my first SLR. I always wanted better images though and it was not until I was finally on the SLR route that I was able to start trying to improve the technique. When I joined ePHOTOzine in 2004, I saw silky water shots and fell in love with them. I was determined to learn how to do that myself. I found my answers in the forums and started to practice.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
I always take my waterfalls shots with the camera securely mounted on my tripod. I usually look around at different angles until I see something in the viewfinder that I like, with interesting foreground as well as the impact of the waterfall itself. Wellies are a must as I am inevitably in the water looking for interesting rocks.

I tend to use ND filters to lengthen the exposure and capture softer water images. I sometimes find the need to use an ND graduated filter if the light above is brighter than at the bottom of the image. Checking the lens/filter regularly is usually required if I am up close to the cascades or if it's breezy in order to make sure there are no water spots or mist on the filter. I usually take several more photos than is really necessary but the water flow can change as can the light, and I would rather take too many and be able to choose the best when I return home than wish I had taken more at the time. I tend to use the mirror lock-up and remote cable when shooting in order to try to get a sharp image, while also making sure the tripod is not moving if it's in the river.

What draws you to waterfall photography?
I love the power and energy of waterfalls and cascades. I cannot convey the sound of the water crashing down but I can try to capture the beauty. The changing seasons mean that the same fall can look so completely different so I will often return to the same location over and over again.


'Shafts of Gold' by mikesmith

How did you get into waterfall photography?
I shot my first long exposure shot of a waterfall after being inspired by some wonderful images here on ePHOTOzine and was intrigued as to how the effect was achieved. I went on an ePHOTOzine trip in autumn 2005 to Padley Gorge (my first visit to that location). I didn't have the right filters so JaseB kindly lent me his ND4 filter and he filled me in on the settings needed to get the desired milky effect. After a few experimental shots, I finally got the desired effect and very quickly was hooked.

The following week I bought myself several filters (ND4, ND8 and a Circular Polariser) and soon after I was off seeking waterfalls.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
More often than not I will stay with the circular polariser and use a combination of lenses, either a 10-20mm or 18-200mm if I want to capture a close-up. With the 10-20mm I like to get very low and try to get some detail of the foreground underwater scene (pebbles). It's always best to have some foreground interest but not so much that it detracts from the falls. It goes without saying that the camera is always set up on a tripod. I always shoot in RAW format and use manual settings which will always depend on the lighting conditions but often will be set at f/16 and focusing on either the foreground interest or the actual falls. I find that if the light is right and I use f/16 then 1.6seconds produces the most pleasing results. More often than not I will use the remote control to reduce any chance whatsoever of camera shake. Often I end up shooting up to 200 or more shots at any one location and alter the shooting position as often as I can in order to be able to pick the crop of the shots once back on the computer.

What draws you to waterfall photography?
I am fascinated by the effect the long exposure has and how different settings can produce completely contrasting results. To me if the location is right, the end result can produce almost mystical images. It is the most appealing of them that I then display on my website and sell at the craft fairs and events that I attend.

My favourite locations to date are Scaleber up in the Dales, West Burton (that also goes by the name of Cauldron falls) in the village of West Burton up in Wensleydale and Goitstock on Harden Beck near Bingley. I am yet to discover the delights of the Welsh Falls.


'Scalebar Splashes' by GillyB

How did you get in to waterfall photography?
I live up on the moors in the Pennines where there is a lot of running water and plenty of overcast days, both useful when photographing waterfalls. A while ago I joined up with a group of fellow ePHOTOzine members and we spend many happy mornings up to our knees in various rivers.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
Wellies are essential to enable you to get to the best spots and a sturdy tripod which will withstand having the legs submerged in fast running water. I usually compose the shot to include some foreground interest, often some interesting rocks or foliage and the usual rules regarding lead in lines, diagonals and thirds usually come into play.

Exposure is of paramount importance especially the choice of shutter speed as this will effect the mood of the image. To capture the movement of the water I usually find around 2 seconds gives a good feeling of movement but half the fun is trying lots of different speeds and see the effects achieved. I always use a circular polarising filter as this will enable me to set a longer shutter speed due to cutting out the light (around 2 stops), also reducing glare off the water and intensifying the colours. If the light is very bright then I will also use a neutral density filter to enable me to get a longer shutter speed. Using the mirror lock up facility and a remote shutter release helps eliminate any unsharpness caused by vibration during the long exposure.

What draws you to waterfall photography?
Photographing waterfalls can be challenging as it is not unusual to be scrambling up and down steep and treacherous terrain that's not easy even when you haven't got a camera and tripod etc. to consider, but extremely rewarding when everything comes together and you get the image you had hoped for.


                                                                'Clywedog copper' by Bruffy

How did you get into waterfall photography?
I first saw long exposure waterfall photography when I joined ePHOTOzine and immediately posted in the forum enquiring how you get 'that' look, and received some helpful answers but the best advice was to get out there and try different shutter speeds and settings. Long exposure waterfalls are definitely a much discussed topic and as we all know, some people like long exposures while others don't. I have always been drawn to the milky water look.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
I always use manual settings on my waterfall shots and up until quite recently used autofocus too, until a certain ePHOTOzine member found out and never let me live it down. More recently I have been using manual focus more to try and improve my technique. I always use ISO100 or 200 depending on the light and anywhere between f/11 and f/22. I decide on my composition, normally trying to include an interesting foreground, and setup my camera on a tripod, meter for the light and use a remote switch to cut out any camera shake. I use a ND grad filter too to slow down the exposure and minimize bright spots in the water, which tend to come out where the water lands in the pool. I aim to use 1 second or longer shutter speed, some of my favourites are around 3 seconds.

What draws you to waterfall photography?
I have always loved waterfalls since I was young, and when I first saw long exposures giving a dreamy look, I immediately wanted to have a go. I prefer the autumn season to get the maximum colours in the scene with fallen leaves, although it has become kind of Clichéd. My other favourite time of year for waterfalls is winter as I am drawn to the icicles and other interesting shapes that form. I have tried longer exposures too using a 10-stop filter around the Snowdon area, in the day and loved the effects. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but it's a very self indulgent part of my photography which I love.


too good to refuse

'Too Good To refuse' by sut68

How did you get into waterfall photography?

As my main area of photographic interest has always been landscapes I suppose it was inevitable that I'd come across the occasional set of falls whilst out-and-about. When I was a young lad I distinctly remember walking around the Ingleton waterfall trail with my parents and two brothers and having a keen interest in the falls there – Thornton Force being the one I recollect the most due to its size and being able to actually walk behind the main drop, still an inspiring place today... I must revisit sometime.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot
I don't have a set formula for setting up and taking shots, but tend to shoot any wider angles first, before moving into tighter compositions and detail studies. For the purpose of this article I will concentrate on the wider shots.

On arrival I have a good look at the falls and surrounding area for a few minutes to see what angle[s] I want to shoot. I try to pay attention to any available lighting, geology available, the way the water meanders and cascades, and then try to pick out interesting shapes in its flow wherever possible.

With waterfalls there can be a lot of debris such as twigs and leaves trapped within the scene, these can look a little scruffy if left so I tend to clear the composition of these unnecessary items where it's safe to do so. It saves a lot of time in post production later.

Experience has taught me to ensure my tripod has a firm footing before eventually putting my camera on and attaching the cable release, I then compose the shot paying careful attention to any rocks or overhanging tree branches intruding into the shot, recomposing or 'pruning' where necessary.

ISO set to 100, aperture at f/14 and camera set to manual I then take a meter reading of the scene to see what shutter speed is being registered. Normally at this point I attach an ND filter to slow things down a little and achieve the desired shutter speed. There is no right and wrong regarding the correct length of exposure for cascading water, but some people do take exception to 'milky' effect that long exposures create. Me, I like the mix of soft water against the sharp details of the rocks. What shutter speed is right for you is your choice.

After taking a test shot, I will review it and pay particular attention to the highlight area of the histogram to try to make sure that the highlights aren't 'clipped'. If I need to adjust the shutter speed to hold them back then I will before proceeding to shoot. Throughout the shoot I will keep paying attention to the highlights and overall exposure as slight increases/decreases in ambient light will affect the settings I need to capture the correct exposure. This will also affect the shutter speed needed and possibly the filtration required to get the desired result.

What draws you to waterfall photography?
Part of the beauty of waterfall photography is the noise created by them. Be it thundering, crashing cascades down to the simple, gentle babbling meander, the sound just adds a fantastic and agreeable atmosphere to the proceedings for me. Visiting a location shortly after a long period of rain can mean that you see the falls in there full flow, but this doesn't always mean that they are at their optimum because the amount of water flowing over them can mask some lower lying stones and rocks which can create some lovely shapes at lower levels. Several trips to the same location will help you judge the best amount of water for you.

Scaleber Force near Settle [shown] is a well shot waterfall here on ePHOTOzine and for good reason. The main drop tends to draw the most attention, but slowly working your way down the falls can also yield some different and equally pleasing compositions.


Mrs S
'Square Buckle' by MrsS

How did you get into waterfall photography?
I first got into waterfall photography through attending ePHOTOzine meets. As these were basically get out there from Dawn to Dusk with as many batteries and CF cards as you could muster, it was necessary to find something to shoot during the day when the light was too harsh for landscape shots. As waterfalls tend to be in amongst woods and leafy glades, they become an ideal subject, not too much light and dappled light at that, if you're lucky.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
When I am shooting a waterfall, my first thought is the composition - I try to find an interesting rock peeking through the water, creating a flow around it. It is good to have other rocks too, so that the finished shot will have streams of water pouring over them. Wellies are an essential, and I am hoping that Father Christmas or the Birthday Fairies might bring me some waders this year, so that I can get even further into the river/stream. Whenever I am shooting waterfalls, you can guarantee that I will be in the water up to the tops of my wellies - sometimes even OVER the tops!

A tripod is an essential piece of kit for waterfall photography for me, as I like to take longer exposures to slow down the movement of the water, enhancing the flow. I usually use a polariser in brighter light too, to cut down any reflection on the water and to "cut through" the surface, revealing the rocks beneath. I will also use graduated filters (sometimes upside down and at funny angles) to balance any bright parts of the image. I also occasionally use either my 2 stop neutral density or my 10 stop filter, depending on the effect I want to achieve, and how long an exposure I feel the shot needs. I tend to shoot at f/11 or f/16 and ISO50 or 100. The focal length will depend on how close I want to get, for a detail shot I might use my 70-200mm lens and use my 17-40mm for wider shots. I do like to shoot waterfalls in portrait or square format as I feel that it presents an opportunity to capture more of the power of the fall.

What draws you to waterfall photography?
My first outing was to Padley Gorge, and I was immediately drawn to the sound of the water and the way it flows over the rocks - I could listen to that sound all day! As with landscape photography, every moment is different, so it doesn't matter how often I visit a waterfall, even if the composition is almost identical to previous shot, the light, water levels and conditions will guarantee that each image is different! What more could you ask for?


Douglas Latham
'The Great Herdsman of Etive' by DouglasLatham

How did you get into waterfall photography?

I was living in Scotland when I first got the photography bug. I would regularly take trips up into Glencoe and that's where I first fell in love with waterfalls. There are so many around that area with the fantastic backdrop of the mountains. I had seen images on ePHOTOzine and in photography magazines of waterfalls with the misting effects from using a slow shutter speed and that inspired me to try and capture similar images. Mountain photographs often need something interesting in the foreground and a waterfall certainly adds the desired interest and also adds light and atmosphere.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot
First of all I will usually have a good walk around the location and try and find the best composition before I even get the camera out of the bag. Once I have found a suitable composition I will always use a tripod to secure the camera and make sure there is no movement from a using a long exposure.

I often use ND filters to help slow the water even more, generally a shutter speed of 2-4 seconds seems to work best for me. A camera spirit level is also a must, you'd be surprised how wonky your naked eye can guess things! Often at waterfalls you don't have a horizon to judge where is level. I also use a remote cable release, this is a good idea for all long exposure shots to make sure pushing the shutter manually doesn't move the camera. Always shoot in RAW as often the water can blow out, especially when a waterfall is fast flowing or there has been a lot of rain. Raw files help you pull back the blown out highlights later in post processing. Bracketing images can also help with this problem.

What draws you to waterfall photography?
I think it is the mystical quality of water when using a slow shutter speed. It seems to make the image otherworldly and magical. The much photographed Scaleber Force is a prime example of this. When photographed right it can have an almost ethereal, Lord Of The Rings quality to it. I think we all secretly yearn for a bit of magic.

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jasonrwl Plus
12 1.1k 11 United Kingdom
5 Oct 2012 10:29AM
Thanks very much for this - it is one of the best Photo Month articles we have had - I particularly like the way that each of the photographers talks through how they set the shots up. More of this type of thing please.
5 Oct 2012 10:59AM
Hi Jason,

I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

There's a couple more here:

Macro Photographers
Landscape Photographers

We have more in the pipeline too so keep an eye out in our techniques section.


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