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Tips for Photographing Waterfalls

Updated on May 4, 2014
CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

A waterfall is a place where water flows over a vertical drop in the course of a stream or river. Waterfalls also occur wheremeltwater drops over the edge of a tabular iceberg or ice shelf.Waterfalls are commonly formed when a river is young.[1] At these times the channel is often narrow and deep. When the river courses over resistant bedrock, erosion happens slowly, while downstream the erosion occurs more rapidly.[1][2] As the watercourse increases its velocity at the edge of the waterfall, it plucks material from the riverbed. Whirlpools created in the turbulence as well as sand and stones carried by the watercourse increase the erosion capacity.[1] This causes the waterfall to carve deeper into the bed and to recede upstream. Often over time, the waterfall will recede back to form a canyon or gorge downstream as it recedes upstream, and it will carve deeper into the ridge above it.[3] The rate of retreat for a waterfall can be as high as one and half meters per year.[1] 'Wikipedia

I don't know what it is about a scene containing a waterfall that attracts so many people. One thing is certain for sure, waterfalls can produce stunning images that can make even a mundane scenery look stunningly beautiful.

Another good thing about photographing waterfalls is that there are many locations all over the planet that feature great examples like the Niagara Falls in the United States and the Angel Waterfalls in Venezuela.

No matter where you are you can probably find a good location by traveling some distance and since many of these falls have become sorts of tourist locations you will always find good suitable locations from where to capture good images.

The key to capturing great falls images depends largely on the vision of the photographer. It is up to him or her to scout the location and look at it from a photographer's mindset.

Often the photographer might have to eliminate elements from the scene in order to make the images stand out.

With that said, it always helps if the images include other elements like parts of the general scenery to aid the viewers in assessing the location and how large the fall itself is in comparison to other parts of the terrain.

This file (Waterfalls wallpaper) is in public domain
This file (Waterfalls wallpaper) is in public domain | Source

There are basically two ways of taking waterfalls images; one, you can use a fast shutter speed and freeze the motion of the water. This gives the impression of portraying the water in a "frozen" state and it allows viewers to look at how the water moves.

The second and probably the most beautiful way is to use a slower shutter speed and thus allowing the motion of the water to become almost "cloud like". This imparts upon the scenery a dream like feeling to it and becomes more of an artistic interpretation.

Using a slow shutter speed relies heavily on other elements within the scene to add color and give a general feeling of the often peacefulness associated with any location that features a waterfall.

The best shots are those that feature a not so massive fall of water and especially if it ends in a pool or lake since they feature many rocks, leaves and vegetation that can enhance the overall view.

Fast shutter speeds are mostly used to showcase the power of the water since it presents a view of the amount of water that forms the fall and you can often appreciate how the water falls, how it breaks upon the rocks and how the enormous amount of water creates an effect and affects or rather shapes the terrain surrounding it

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

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Although any time is probably a good time to photograph a waterfall, I believe that you should take advantage of the season if your location has them.

For example a location where the Fall manifest itself withing the compounds of the changing of the color in the vegetation, this may work to your advantage by showcasing deep reds and oranges commonly associated with the Fall and this can further enhance the photograph.

If your location features snow or ice then this may also work in your favor. By taking pictures of the same falls during different seasonal changes you now have more pictures of the same scene but with different perspectives which can offer different views.

Often these same vies can look so differently from one another that you could almost say there were taken in different locations.

CC BY 3.0
CC BY 3.0 | Source

Don't forget to try to submit your best images to photographic stock houses, greeting card publishers as well as posters publishers.

These images appear to be always in demand but they must show scenes and views that are spectacular and well presented as well as possessing a high degree of technical quality.

Keep in mind that waterfalls remain a popular topic in photography therefore your images must be better than the usual ones. With some practice, good research and a good technical handle you can take great pictures that will be in in demand.

The best thing is that these images are "evergreen", that is they never go out of style and do not fit one particular season.

(CC BY 2.0
(CC BY 2.0 | Source

© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Greensleeves Hubs; Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK

      First rate photos and video tuition Luis, and good advice in the text to make the best of a naturally photogenic subject matter. With waterfalls I would always bracket exposures (using different shutter speeds to create different effects). Sometimes one will produce the best effect, but often photos taken with different shutter speeds will produce different effects, each of which is equally appealing in their own way.

      I hope your hub will encourage some to try this genre of photography which not only produces great photos, but also takes the photographer out into some great scenic locations. Alun

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Ericdierker,sally bea,WiccanSage; thank you very much. I appreciate your comments very much.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      These are really beautiful and thanks for sharing. Some great tips for capturing nature's wonders here. I personally like the slower shutter speed better. Nice hub.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Luis E Gonzalez

      Very useful information thank you. It was good to be able to watch the video to learn exactly how to make the water look milky.

      Thanks for sharing, voted up and useful.


    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Fantastic, I hope to capture many good ones and use your helpful guide as I do. I love how you capture the eddies.