In the previous post in this series I didn’t include instructions for shooting waterfalls among the tips for better photography. This is because waterfalls are challenging for the point and shoot and cell phone camera user. Water is both a reflective and a moving object, and thus hard to capture clearly with a hand held camera. Also, most waterfalls are in heavily wooded areas, and the intensity of the surrounding vegetation can give a washed out feeling to the image. And light can be your foe – in many of my handheld photos I’ve framed the image tightly to reduce excess light from above the falls. For example, the early morning photo below of Adams Falls. Its an OK image, but the main falls themselves show the water as a blur, with no distinction of individual sprays.
I had better success with my point and shoot another time. The photos below are from Freedom Falls in Venango County, PA. As I wrote about the photo, “Photography is a fascinating subject, but I’m not a skilled photographer, nor do I have anything beyond a point and shoot. But I do try to practice the good advice I’ve been given or read. One of my favorite guidebook writers is Scott Brown, author of Pennsylvania Waterfalls. Brown advised when shooting to use a lower shutter speed and a tripod, and to try to use a filter to reduce background highlighting. The woods were showing up as very bright, and since the falls as a whole weren’t heavily flowing I focused on segments of the waterfall. This let me make the water the focus and allowed me to ‘crop’ out the woods. I won’t call my photos professional or serious, but they pleased me very much. And they still do. Seeing them again reminds me of a cool afternoon along and in Shull Run.”
For these photos I used a tripod and a combination of a slower shutter and higher f stop setting (more on this in a moment), and stood in the fall’s plunge pool. As I mentioned in the previous post, the telephoto on point and shoot and cell phone cameras produce very noisy images, and to photograph waterfalls it helps to get as close as possible to the flowing water.
In response to a plea for help posted to the Pennsylvania Waterfalls Facebook group, Bill Hamm was kind enough to write for us a brief tutorial on how to get better waterfalls photos with some basic photography skills. If you follow the link at the bottom of the post you can see, and if you like purchase, his wonderful and detailed waterfall photography.
“I know you can use a GE-X2600 and get great results (that is what I use).
To photograph waterfalls with detail you must be able to adjust 3 things: ISO, F-stops and shutter speed.
1=Shutter speed (The time that the shutter remains open allowing light through),
2=ISO (this is the cameras sensitivity to light), and
3= f-stops (the higher f stops means less light comes through the lens ,the lower the more light comes through.)
It would be up to the individual to determine what settings would be best for that particular shooting session. I have found that you need a cloudy overcast day, set the ISO as low as you can (I can only go down to ISO=64) , slow the shutter speed (in most cases 1/4 to 3/4 will do) and last but not least set the f stops as high as possible to decrease the light coming through. That coupled with the low ISO allows me to decrease my shutter speed.
You will need a tripod for this type of shooting. Although the GE-X2600 will not allow the use of filters I have devised a way to use them. I also use a Neutral Density filter that allows me to go over the 3/4 sec shutter speed. Please keep in mind I am not a pro, this is what works for me. If you would like to see what that little camera can do check this out https://www.pixoto.com/bill.hamm.12/recent