In this post I will share with you some thoughts about taking photos of rivers and waterfalls. During mountain trips I had the opportunity and delight to notice incredible landscapes, some of them including these water elements. I’m not talking about large falls like Niagara but smaller water formations flowing through rocks or trees.
However size doesn’t matter! Even a small river (say creek) or waterfall can be spectacular and charm the viewer depending on the surroundings, lighting and other factors. Along with the beautiful view and fresh air its flow brings a sensation of silence and peace and helps the visitor relax and “disconnect” from the daily stress.
Last but not least it can be a fresh water source for the thirsty traveler. In my opinion no water (or other beverage) has such a fine taste and refreshing effect like the one from the mountain rivers or creeks. Of course this doesn’t apply for rivers that flow near cities or other settlements but more for isolated water formations located in “wild territory”.
Now let me share with you some findings about taking photos of rivers and waterfalls.
- I prefer to take pictures with rivers on cloudy days as I want to avoid having intense sun reflections into the water. In my opinion these reflections might decrease the quality of the picture by causing part of it to look as if it had been “burnt”. They also force increasing the shutter speed which is not always the most desirable behaviour (see next point). Also by using cloudy white balance I can get more vivid colours of the surroundings. Of course this is not a strict rule, as there are situations when the sun can play a positive role in the picture and casting shadows creates a nice effect.
- In some scenarios I use a lower shutter speed to help create a “dream-like” view of the water flow. This is an eye-catching effect that many photographers successfully take advantage of. In order to do this I set the shutter speed to 1/15 – 1/10 seconds or longer by lowering the ISO and closing the apperture. Some photographers also use neutral density (ND) filters to get longer shutter speeds (when there is too much light). I haven’t used such filters so far so I cannot say much about their benefits, however they seem to be a good idea depending on lighting conditions.
- By using a wide-angle lens one can make a relatively small waterfall look like a large one (when approaching it as much as possible). See for example the last picture below.
- A circular polarizing filter might also be useful for eliminating unwanted reflections from the water surface. If none is available one could try to change the view angle to the subject until those reflections disappear.
- After editing the picture in Lightroom I use Photoshop to get rid of certain objects that draw the viewer’s attention from the subject. In most cases these consist of branches (fallen or not) that appear into the picture from the sides.
Hoping you’ll find these points useful I’ll now let you enjoy the pictures. Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions about this subject. Any improvement ideas are also most welcome.