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Topic: Waterfall photography tutorial< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
GaliWalker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 23 2011, 2:41 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In the mid-Atlantic forum someone asked me to provide a tutorial on how I take some of my waterfall photos. In answer, I wrote up some thoughts on how I approach this, with an example photo to illustrate these. I think the Photography forum might be a better place for the reply. While this will most probably be nothing new for quite a few people, hopefully some people can find it useful...


Douglas Falls, WV

- Waterfall photos are impossible to take when there are high contrast situations. I dont bother with waterfall photography when the sun starts to hit the water. So the first step to be successful is to get there early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Once I get to my location I start to look around to identify what defines the spot. Usually, this is the first thing that makes me go wow; the harder task is to identify exactly what made me go wow. For Douglas Falls the gorgeous red rocks were the obvious choice.
- Now that I had the main theme identified, I set about looking for smaller details that enhance this theme; that sell it in a non-obvious, non-documentary way. In the photo above, I spotted a lovely little cascade amongst the rocks. I decided to make this a feature, which would allow me to offset the red rocks by white water, drawing out even more of the color.
- Ok, now that I knew what type of shot I wanted to try, the next step was to get in position. This involved a bit of slick scrambling on wet, slippery rocks. Once I got into position, I was gratified to see that the photo Id seen in my mind would in fact be possible to take. The takeaway here is to see the shot before you ever lift the camera up.
- Up to this point was the fun part of photography for me - the thinking part. The rest was more mechanical:
- I set up the tripod, really close to the cascade. I wanted to ensure that the cascade was front and center, so that the waterfall and cascade do not compete more than they should. For a successful photo the eye needed to fall on the cascade first, and then be led to rest on Douglas Falls. An unsuccessful photo would have the eye fall on the main subject first and then either leave it to wander elsewhere, or just get stuck there, having missed out on the other things in the frame. There should be only one main subject, and the rest should be designed to lead the eye to this naturally.
- Since I wanted a great depth of field (everything in focus from foreground to background), I set the aperture to F/22. I also used a wide angle lens.
- I rotated the polarizing filter until most of the reflections in the water were removed, since I wanted a clean, uncluttered look.
- I set the shutter speed to 5 sec, for a proper exposure (anything longer than 1 sec would have been fine for this shot). The ISO speed was 100. My camera allows me to go down to ISO 50, but it wasnt bright enough yet to require me to cut any more light.
- To prevent camera shake I used a remote release. If you don't have this, try and use the timer; this will prevent camera shake due to having to manually depress the shutter.
- I took a test shot and checked the histogram to ensure that my exposure was correct, adjusting as necessary. Note that if you shoot in Raw, you can recover some details in the shadows, but none in blown highlights, so make sure that there is no clipping of the histogram on the right side.
- And that was mostly it. I dont do much post-processing, since most of the work has already been done. Maybe some exposure tweaks, but not much more. e.g. No blending of multiple photos (as other photographers are increasing doing these days, but which I find quite unnatural in the majority of cases), no addition/removal of anything other than sensor dust spots. For landscape shots, this last bit is an ethical no-no for me.


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roger486 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 29 2011, 9:27 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

These are great tips thanks for the tutorial I am going to try some of these ideas on my next trip.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 11 2011, 12:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the tips.  I recently bought some books for New England photography and one of the tips that I had not thought of was some of the best foliage photos are done in the rain.  Which fits right in about not letting sunlight hit the water.  I have made numerous backpacking trips and always wanted to get my photos to look like yours, but they didn't in large part due to the time of day and plenty of sunlight hitting the cascades.

Loved your zenfolio site, you have a lot of talent.  Thanks again for the tips.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 15 2011, 12:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Galiwalker,

That's solid, thanks for sharing. I am sending you a PM on other photography issue. Thanks,

John


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 16 2011, 12:03 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks guys!

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 29 2011, 12:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I love the red rocks and white water contrast in your photo...very nice!

I'm learning slowly, but still always forget about ISO...have to start experimenting with that in addition to aperture and shutter speed.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 01 2012, 12:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Great tutorial CaliWalker.

If you're new to this I'd make sure to take a number of photos from 1 second as Cali mentioned to 10 or more. This will help you get a feel for what the results are going to be.

In the fall watch for leaves flowing over small falls or in pools below the falls. Sometimes you'll see them flowing around in a circle.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 01 2012, 11:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As in all things "artsy", beauty is subjective, either Orton effect photos or overly "milky" water.

Depending on the speed of the water flow, you can get more realistic depictions using shutter speeds of 1/4 to 1 sec. or even less.

These are handheld 1/15 sec exposures.





The key to effective moving water photos is to use a manual setting.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 11 2012, 8:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I should have revisited this topic before last weekend's trip to Cuyahoga Falls...all my shots were overexposed.  Of course, I broke rule #1 by sleeping late and shooting around high noon!  Thank goodness I'm not paying for film and processing!

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 12 2012, 3:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One thing that you can use is a neutral density filter. I have one have not used it,but I have done some reading on photography forums. My understanding is that they help during bright sunlight  situations.

Just a thought.
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GaliWalker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 12 2012, 5:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Correct, a neutral density filter is useful in sunny conditions when a polarizer and stopping down to the smallest aperture opening is not enough. e.g.

Dolly Sods: Vigorous Red Creek

However, neutral density filters do not help with high dynamic range situations, which are often encountered when the sun is out, e.g. harsh shadows, since they can't selectively cut the light from the brighter bits. Still, they have their uses, as you say...


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2012, 11:25 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for posting this Gali. I am trying to learn photography on my own and it's not easy. Write ups like this really help people like me with little or no experience.

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GaliWalker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2012, 2:41 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

No problem metalman.

I too am self taught, and wouldn't have it any other way. Best of luck, and keep experimenting.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 20 2012, 2:02 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

These are great tips thanks for the tutorial
I am going to try some of these ideas on my next trip.
Thanks dude....


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 08 2012, 9:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Very good tips on how to get a great shot.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 12 2012, 2:21 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey GaliWalker

Nice images and tutorial. A couple of points.

QUOTE
Note that if you shoot in Raw, you can recover some details in the shadows, but none in blown highlights, so make sure that there is no clipping of the histogram on the right side.


Technically, kinda .. in practice, with a good raw converter, it's very possible to artificially construct lost highlights .. and to a more pronounced degree with every upgrade to the software, it seems. It's amazing what Nikon NX2 can do for a blown exposure, for example. Same thing with Lightroom, et al. Agree, it's best to not blow the highlights at all .. but when it happens, a raw converter can definitely figure out what's missing.

QUOTE
I set the shutter speed to 5 sec, for a proper exposure ....... - To prevent camera shake I used a remote release. If you don't have this, try and use the timer; this will prevent camera shake due to having to manually depress the shutter.


At a s/s of 5 seconds, a remote release, or time, is somewhat irrelevant. Camera shake from pressing the shutter release button isn't going to show up on a 5 sec exposure - at all. Really, anything longer than 2 secs is pretty safe, as a general rule of thumb.

lastly, I think it's good to reiterate to folks who are interested, when checking "the histogram", always, always ALWAYS check the RGB histogram (red, green and blue) .. not the luminance histogram (the white one) which shows an average of the 3.

The composition in your example shot is really what makes it, for me .. wonderfully done.

Cheers

Carl


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GaliWalker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 12 2012, 10:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the additions, Walkinman.

Yeah, using a remote for exposure longer than 2-3sec is unnecessary: the camera stops jiggling within a second (depending on the tripod quality) and the remaining time of the exposure should record enough details to 'settle' the shot. Despite this, I've fallen into the habit of using it whenever I've taken the trouble to mount the camera on a tripod. This way I don't have to worry about camera shake, whatever the shutter speed. Walkinman's point is a good one though: if you don't have a remote release try and use shutter speeds longer than 2sec.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 14 2012, 2:13 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Agreed - I use one most of the time as well .. but for backpacking trips I often don't bring one .. so I thought that info might be useful to folks on this site.

You nailed the processing on this shot . that's really well done.

Cheers

Carl


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17 replies since Sep. 23 2011, 2:41 pm < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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