How To Photograph a Waterfall
Written by: Tiffany Joyce
The photo above demonstrates the lovely soft effect of photographing the motion blur of a waterfall. Here’s how you do it.
1. Arrive on location either just before dawn or just after sunset. The lower light level will help compensate the need to use a slower shutter speed in order to capture the motion blur, without over-exposing the photograph too much. You’d be surprised at how very little ambient light you need in order to get a great shot.
2. Set your camera up on on a tripod and use a remote shutter release. Again, this is necessary because of the slower shutter speed you will be using.
3. Use the lowest ISO number that your camera offers – ISO 50 or 100 for most cameras.
4. Use the Shutter Priority mode (“Tv” (which, I just learned, stands for “time value”) or “S” on most camera dials), and start at a shutter speed of one second. The camera will adjust the aperture accordingly. For more motion blur, lower the shutter speed in half-second increments (1.5 seconds, 2 seconds) until you achieve the desired effect. The longer the shutter speed, the higher the aperture number will increase in order to compensate for exposure. Check out this link that I’ve shared in the past for a visual demonstration of this concept.
5. If using the Manual mode (“M” on most camera dials), use a large aperture number to reduce the amount of light exposure to the photograph. Try starting with f/22 and increase or decrease depending on the resulting exposure.
It will probably take a handful of shots before you find the right combination of shutter speed and aperture to successfully photograph the motion blur of a waterfall, but once you dial it in you’ll find that the technique is really quite simple.
The photo used in this article is credited to Brian Richardson on Flickr Creative Commons. Brian achieved this photo using the following settings on his Nikon D40: exposure 1.5 seconds, aperture f/22, focal length 55mm, ISO 200.
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