Shooting at a slow shutter speed is the key to capturing the beauty of a waterfall. The shutter speed at which you shoot can range from 1/5th of a second to 15 seconds, and even longer.
The shutter speed you choose depends on the two things: 1) the desired effect: the longer the shutter speed, the smoother and softer the water appears in your photograph; and 2) the movement of the water: when the water is moving fast, you’ll need a longer shutter speed than when the water is moving slowly.
My advice is to photograph a waterfall using several different slow shutter speeds, and then choose the image/effect you like best once you are back home and sitting at your computer monitor.
Using slow shutter speeds requires using a tripod. To prevent camera shake during long exposures, use a cable release, a remote release app, or your camera’s self-timer.
On sunny days, even if you set your ISO to 100 and your aperture to f/22, you may not be able to shoot at a slow enough shutter speed to blur the water. In that situation, use a Variable Neutral Density (ND) filter.
An ND filter reduces the amount of light entering your lens so you can shoot at slow shutter speeds. A variable ND filter lets you control (dial in) the desired amount of light reduction. I use a Tiffen 2-8 stop Variable ND filter. To reduction reflections on water, use a Tiffen polarizing filter.
If you don’t own a ND filter, shoot before sunrise and after sunset on sunny days – when the light level is low.
Keep your camera’s highlight alert on. Check to make sure highlights are not overexposed and washed out.
When shooting near waterfalls, keep a lens cleaning cloth
handy. The smallest water droplet on your lens can look like a big blog in your
pictures. Clean your lens often!
Sometimes you need to be in the water when photographing waterfalls. Knee-high rubber are one choice for keeping your toes dry. Neos, collapsible waterproof boots are another.
I teach waterfall photography on my workshops. I hope to see you on one soon!
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Explore the light,
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