Capturing waterfall photographs

Waterfall photographs taken with slow shutter speeds

Waterfall photographs taken with slow shutter speeds

Living in the upstate, we are surrounded by amazing landscape opportunities involving water. There are dozens of waterfalls, streams, lakes, and rivers to explore with our cameras. Waterfall photographs are some of the most interesting options for exploring slow shutter speed photography when you are just starting out. You know the photographs I mean: the ones where the water smooths out and looks like silk. That effect is created by using extended shutter speeds when taking waterfall photographs to “smooth out” the motion and details of the water.

When learning about photography, it’s best to learn tips from the best. I ran across the following article by National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson on shooting waterfalls and I think he has some solid tips.

Waterfall photographs taken with slow shutter speeds

Waterfall photographs taken with slow shutter speeds

Contributing editor Jim Richardson is a photojournalist recognized for his explorations of small-town life. His photos appear frequently in National Geographic magazine.

Perhaps unlocking one creative door opens another.

Somehow that’s how I felt dashing back to the Zodiacs to leave Thistle Fjord in Iceland, flush with confidence from my photographic encounter with the bird wing. If I could break through that creative barrier, what other challenges would succumb to me?

Then I remembered the cascading waterfall near our landing site. Nothing huge, just crystal clear waters sweeping past the ancient farm and dancing down over the rocks to the sea. With a couple of minutes to spare, perhaps I could pull off one more image.

First, a bit of photographic background. Waterfall pictures are moving perilously close to being clichés. I say “close” because I doubt we humans will ever lose our fascination with the delights of cascading water plunging dramatically from on high. But … the techniques used to capture waterfall pictures have become standard fare. The most common current rage is to use a long, very slow shutter speed to turn the water into silky, silvery curtains of liquid smoothness. And lovely pictures they are. It’s just that the style has been done over and over by countless photographers. Me, too—guilty as charged.

The method is simple, even if accomplishing it takes a bit of gear. You simply use a slow shutter speed, usually a half a second or longer, maybe up to as long as 30 seconds. The water in motion blurs to become as smooth as glass.

Read the full article and the rest of Jim’s waterfall tips using the link below.

Embedded Link

Photographer Jim Richardson on Capturing a Waterfall — National Geographic
Read about photographer Jim Richardson’s experience with travel photography and get advice on trying new photography techniques from National Geographic.

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