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Waterfall Photography: Learn How to Photograph Waterfalls

Updated on April 10, 2012

Take Amazing Waterfall Images

If you have spent any amount of time on Flickr or some other photo sharing site you have likely seen some amazing waterfall photos like the one shown above. Have you ever wondered how people create these stunning photos? If you are new to photography you might think that the photographer did something in Photoshop or perhaps they have a fancy camera. To be honest anyone can create a photo like the one shown above. You simply use long exposure photography to capture a photo like this. You don't need a expensive camera to do it.

Famous Waterfalls

show route and directions
A markerNiagara Falls -
Niagara Falls, ON, Canada
get directions

B markerVictoria Falls -
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
get directions

C markerAngel Falls -
Angel Falls, Canaima National Park, Venezuela
get directions

D markerYosimite falls -
Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, CA, USA
get directions

Getting Started with Waterfall Photography

To get started with waterfall photography you are going to need a few things. When taking pictures of a waterfall you will be using long exposure photography. For long exposure photography you'll need the following 3 things:

  • Your going to need a camera that allows you to control the aperture and shutter speed. Entry level point and shoot cameras generally don't provide this option. You'll need at least a mid-level to high-end point and shoot camera or a D-SLR camera.
  • Secondly, your going to need a tripod. Don't go out and buy a $1000 tripod for this, a cheap tripod from your local department store will work just fine.
  • Lastly, your going to need a waterfall. Don't worry if you don't live near a waterfall; any type of moving water will work. Try taking photos of a water fountain, water running from the garden hose or even turn on the bath tub and and take a few practice shots of the water coming from the spout.

Basics of Waterfall Photography

Now its time to learn how to actually take a photo of a waterfall using long exposure photography. Basically, your going to use a longer shutter speed so that your camera can capture the water moving rather than stopped in motion. The opposite of long exposure photography is called stop-motion photography. Okay, now lets get started.

  1. First you'll need to attach your camera to the tripod and compose your photo.
  2. Once your happy with your photo you'll want to put your camera into manual mode.
  3. Now close your aperture as much as you can. I usually set my aperture at F22.
  4. Now adjust you shutter speed so that your exposure meter reads 0.
  5. Your shutter speed will effect the way the waterfall looks. The longer the shutter speed the more motion blur you'll get. If the water is moving slowly you'll likely need a longer exposure. The photo above was taken at F22 at 1/2 second.
  6. If you need a longer or shorter exposure you can adjust your ISO and aperture to get the desired shutter speed and still have your exposure meter read 0.
  7. Lastly, press the shutter button and try to not move the tripod.

Are you going to try waterfall photography?

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Moving Objects in Waterfall Pictures

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Beware of Moving Objects

Taking a few waterfall photos with long exposure will surely impress your friends. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind while your out hunting for waterfalls to photograph.

  • Windy days are bad. If it is too windy the trees will move and begin to look blurry. Obviously when everything in your photo looks blurry it doesn't look good. To the right I have posted a few examples of things moving during some of own waterfall shost. Notice how the weeds and fern leaves appear blurry.
  • Secondly, if you want a waterfall image with people in it; you'll need to allow the people to sit so they can hold still. The slightest movement can can cause the person's face to go blurry which is obviously not a nice effect.

Have Fun With Waterfall Photography

Using Long exposure photography with waterfalls can be a lot of fun and can create some really interesting images. Don't think that this can only be used with waterfalls. You can try long exposure photography with moving lights, speeding cars, grass blowing in the wind, amusement park rides and plenty of other things. I suggest going out with your camera and look around, you'll be surprised with what you'll find.

All the photos on this site were taken by me while in the highlands of Scotland. Enjoy

More Cool Waterfall Images

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    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      These are lovely photographs. We have many waterfalls in the state we live in and have a goal to visit everyone. My camera is always with me and I have some great photographs. I enjoyed yours and the tips. Thanks, Hyph.

    • fotoviva profile image

      fotoviva 5 years ago from Swansea

      Nice hub with lots of great tips! I love the long exposure effect on the water which makes it silky smooth.

    • Darrylmdavis profile image

      Darrylmdavis 5 years ago from Brussels, Belgium

      I am originally from near Niagara Falls and will be visiting this summer...plan to make use of this hub then. Well done!

    • zenpropix profile image

      zenpropix 5 years ago

      A favorite waterfall to photograph is Bridal Veil Falls, just above Telluride in Colorado's San Juan Mountains. Mountain waterfalls are highly dependent on snow melt and therefore the previous winter's snowpack. Might I suggest playing with underexposure. Highlights in the water wash out so easily, and you'll possibly find that less exposure will add both definition and drama to the silky strands of falling water that long exposures create so beautifully. Enjoyed your hub!

    • kgala0405 profile image

      Kevin Galarneau 5 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks for the kind words, and welcome to HubPages. I'm looking forward to reading your hubs.

    • crookedcreekphoto profile image

      crookedcreekphoto 5 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Beautiful photographs. Great advice too. Water and waterfalls are my favorite subjects.

    • happyturtle profile image

      happyturtle 5 years ago from UK

      Never forget a tripod otherwise you'll get a blurry effect all over your photos.

      Great hub. Well done!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks much! Interesting and helpful, and I do hope to get to try this technique out with waterfalls and more.