Waterfalls… Every time I’m near one, I can’t help but to think of the TLC song Waterfalls. “Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to”. Although I know they were speaking figuratively, it’s a cool song with lasting lyrics. I completely ignore their advice, and I purposely “chase” literal falls. I plan trips to photograph them, and I seek them out on other trips. If there’s one close by – I’m going. So far, I’ve shot waterfalls in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Hawaii, Colorado, Utah, Australia, and Canada. I have a list, and it’s growing. Time to plan some more trips…
My First Waterfall
Since I was a child, I’ve always loved streams. As I got older, I found them to be a place of peace. I got to enjoy streams, but I didn’t see many waterfalls until much later. If I’m not mistaken, Niagara Falls was probably the first waterfall I saw. I was immediately struck by its majesty, beauty and power. While I’m still in awe, my opinion of Niagara Falls now is a little different… a little too commercialized for me.
It’s not that I don’t like Niagara Falls. It’s just.. since that first time, I’ve seen others that I can get really close to for a completely different experience. I like the smaller more intimate and undisturbed falls now, like the ones found in state parks and national parks. Some of them involve a little walking, hiking, or even climbing to get to – some don’t. Some you can simply pull over and get out of the car. Whether the level of effort is high or low, it’s always worth it.
Without my camera, I can just sit by a fall and enjoy the ‘song’ of the rushing water. But, if I’m near a waterfall, I’m usually there to shoot it. So, I pretty much always have my camera with me. I have it, but I’m not just constantly shooting. I always take the time to enjoy just being there, sometimes just sitting with my camera next to me on the tripod. At those moments, I’m at peace, with all of my senses activated.. It’s just me enjoying one of the many wonders of nature.
But… I do love to photograph them, because they make incredible subjects. Each picture is completely unique. Check out my Waterfall Gallery
Having shot a few waterfalls, I have some tips I’d like to share;
- Use a tripod. If you want the smooth flowing water shots, you’re going to have use a slower shutter speed and smaller aperture. Without a tripod, you’ll probably end up with some blurry shots from trying to hand hold the camera for long exposure times.
- Most times the rocks around waterfalls are wet, and even a little light will make them shiny. Use a Polarizing Filter to get rid of the glare and enrich the colors around the fall.
- Depending on the location and the time of day, there may be too much light to get the shutter speed slow enough. So make sure to use Neutral Density Filters. They block out the light entering the camera, allowing you to get a slower shutter speed – even in harsh light.
- Chances are, you’re not the only person that knows about the waterfall. You want to create an image that’s different from theirs. Don’t just shoot the fall from one spot,