Photography Tips for Waterfalls and Running Water

Waterfalls and running water are two of the most popular subjects for many photographers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are doing this type of photography.

1. Use a Tripod: This is a must. You know how the water is blurred in great waterfall photographs? In order to do this, you must have a tripod to avoid camera shake.Looking Glass FallsCredit: Roger Greenway

2. Use the Auto Timer: Pressing the shutter button creates camera shake. To avoid this, set the auto-timer on your camera to 2-3 seconds, press the shutter button, and then back away. You can also purchase a remote shutter trigger so you don’t have to press the shutter button, but using the auto-timer function works fine.

3. Use Shutter Priority Mode: Set your camera to shutter priority mode so you can control the shutter speed. When shooting waterfalls, you want to use a shutter speed of 1/8 a second or less (in general). Doing so allows you to blur the water and convey a sense of motion.

4. Use a Natural Density (ND) Filter: An ND filter reduces the amount of light that hits your camera sensor. When you using a slower shutter speed, more light hits your sensor (the shutter is open longer). Using an ND filter helps avoid a “washed out” photograph.

5. Use a Low ISO Setting: Again, the slower the shutter, the more light is going to hit your sensor. A low ISO (no more than 200) reduces the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor.

6. Shoot in Low-Light: The best time to photograph waterfalls or running water is on overcast days. When there is too much light, your photo may be overexposed as a result of having the shutter open for a long period of time.

7. Use a Polarizing Filter: A polarizing filter reduces the amount of glare in your photograph, which is obviously important when photographing water. A polarizing filter also brings out the saturated colors in the water and surroundings.Running WaterCredit: Roger Greenway

8. Experiment: Try to photograph the waterfall from different angles, or trying photographing something in the foreground to create a sense of depth. Be creative!

9. Bracket Shots: If you are using a digital camera, take as many shots as possible. Bracket your shots and see which exposure you like best when you get home.

10. Helpful Gear: Consider buying a good pair of waders to help you get close to the waterfall. Also, if you do plan on getting close to the waterfall, you might want to consider buying some type of waterproof bag to protect your camera. The last thing you want is to slip on a rock and drop your camera in the water.