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Photographing waterfalls

Waterfalls are popular landscape subjects but they can be tricky to capture. Here's our advice to make the job that bit easier.

|  Landscape and Travel
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Gear needs
Wide and telephoto lenses are great for showing the waterfall in its surroundings while shorter lenses will let you really focus on detail. If you want to create the silky-smooth feel waterfall images are renown for you really do need to pack a tripod or have a very, very sturdy hand. A polarising filter's also handy to remove some of the reflection bouncing back off the water. You could try a Hoya screw-in or a Cokin creative filter system polariser filter if you don't own one yet.

Waterfall photography

Techniques to try
Search for an image of a waterfall and your guaranteed to find one with smooth, flowing water. It's a technique popular with many landscape photographers and it can be (if the circumstances allow for it) quite simple to set up. Get your tripod, set your camera to shutter priority, pick a reasonably slow shutter speed of around one to two seconds and take your picture. It sounds easy on paper but when you're out in the field it's not always quite that straight forward. A long shutter speed means more light gets into your image. A simple option is to take your photograph at sunrise or set when the lights not as bright or you could use a polarising filter or try switching to aperture priority mode if it's really too bright. It may take some time to find the correct shutter speed but bracketing can help.

It's sometimes easy to forget but do remember you're not fastened to the ground. Waterfalls have many angles and you'll only find them if you move your feet! From one side you might be able to capture a smooth flowing stream while another angle may give you an explosion of water bouncing off the rocks. Which brings us nicely onto fast shutter speeds. Yes, we know everyone knows and loves the blurred water look but using a fast shutter speed can make a splash of water more intense and make a waterfall appear very powerful. Stepping back slightly will also allow some of the scenery to appear can change your 'just another waterfall' image into something rather special.


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