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Beautiful Waterfall in Magoebaskloof - Photographing a Waterfall

Beautiful Waterfall in Magoebaskloof - Photographing a Waterfall

This photo was taken in December 2014 with a Canon 5D MkIII and Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.
Camera Settings: f/22.0, 0.8 seconds and ISO 50

 

These waterfall pictures where taken in a forest in Magoebaskloof, South Africa. I used a polarising filter to increase the shutterspeed and decrease the reflections on the water. I increased the aperture value to the maximum of f/22 and decreased the ISO to the minimum of 50 to get the longest possible shutterspeed.

A waterfall can make some of the most impressive photos if using a long exposure. Waterfalls are a very popular subject for landscape photographers. The milky water effect in all great waterfall photos is not difficult to acheive. 

Have the necessary equipment

  • A tripod is incredibly important.
  • A filter. Either ND filter or polarising filter or both.
  • Preferably a wide angle lens.
  • A shutter release is recommended.

A polarising filter is preferable over the ND filter although both can work. The polarising decreases the reflection on the water and reduces the light entering your lens. In certain situations a ND filter will be necessary to achieve slow enough shutterspeeds. Adjust the polarising filter to maximise its effect of reducing relfections and increasing the vibrance of the colours.

When is the best time?

Waterfalls usually look best after big rain. It depends on the source of water. Some waterfalls only run during the raining season. It is a good idea to wait for the right time to photograph the waterfall. Other important factors are the weather and time of day. A waterfall looks best with the soft light from a cloudy day. It also makes it easier to get a long shutterspeed. Otherwise you could try at sunrise or sunset but it is important to remember direct sunlight is not preferable.

 

This photo was taken in December 2014 with a Canon 5D MkIII and Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.
Camera Settings: f/22.0, 4 seconds and ISO 50

 

How to compose the photo

A wide angle lens up close from the bottom of the waterfall can make the waterfall look much bigger and create a impressive effect. It is important to still remember the rule of thirds when composing. Switch to a telephoto lens and try to focus on smaller areas instead of the entire waterfall. 

Sometimes it is not just the big waterfall that make good photos but also the small waterfalls in the river coming from the waterfall. Including some foreground elements such as rocks or a log always helps to balance the composition. 

 

This photo was taken in December 2014 with a Canon 5D MkIII and Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.
Camera Settings: f/22.0, 3.2 seconds and ISO 50

 

The exposure settings on the camera

Firstly, it is important to get the milky effect which requires a long shutterspeed. A small aperture is needed to get everything in focus and it helps increase the shutterspeed. The ISO can be set to minimum to reduce the noise in the photo and slow the shutterspeed. To get the milky effect you need at least a few seconds but it depends on the type of waterfall and the speed of the waterfall. 

It is important to not overexpose the water. It easy to do so and usually you will need to underexpose slightly. Practice and experimentation is important.

 

This photo was taken in December 2014 with a Canon 5D MkIII and Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.
Camera Settings: f/16.0, 4 seconds and ISO 100

 

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