Waterfall Photography Tutorial

July 17, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

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Sometimes, the cards dealt to you simply don't work.  You need to have a few stored up your sleeve:)

The other day, at Cascade Falls, I had to pull out a few cards to 'win the hand'.

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Cascades TutorialWaterfall Tutorial

Looks nice, don't you think?   I really love the just-fallen blooms from trees above, and the reflection in the puddles on the wet rocks.  But I have a secret... It sure didn't start out that way.

Here was my initial scene... (very unedited)

Cascades FallsCascades Falls

Wow, just look at those horrendous rocks! I mean sure, I love being at any waterfall, but this just won't do.   To improve the scene, I reached down into the water and splashed water as far as I could.  Wet rocks always look better that dry ones.  I also took some blooms that were laying around just outside of the frame and randomly tossed them into view.  

Cascade Fallsvirginia cascade falls

Looking better so far!  Wetting the rocks sure does remove a lot of the distraction in the foreground.  There is just one problem.. where is my reflection?  I mean, the only reason I set up in this exact spot was to have a small reflection in the puddles.

Enter shot #2... A quick turn of the polarizer revealing all the reflections...

I do love the reflection of the falls in the foreground puddle!  But I really don't love all the rest of the reflections.  This is where a quick layer mask in Photoshop comes into play.  Basically, I want to keep everything in the fully polarized photo, as well as the falls reflecting in the non-polarized photo.  A simple layer mask and viola!  

Virginia CascadesVirginia CascadesThe Cascades Falls in Giles County Virginia.

A summary...  

Don't let the scene completely dictate the photo you want to take.  You have a lot more control than you might think.  All I had to do to really make my hike worth the time was splash a little water, toss a few blooms, and merge two exposures(which was the easiest part).

 

 

And since you made it all the way to the bottom, here are some others I took on the same day.  The ferns at the end were taken near the car well after dark(I hiked in from the Barney's Wall area).

 

Thanks for looking...

 

Virginia CascadesVirginia CascadesThe Cascades Falls in Giles County Virginia.

Virginia CascadesVirginia CascadesThe Cascades Falls in Giles County Virginia.

 

Virginia CascadesVirginia CascadesImages of the Cascades Waterfall near Pembroke Virginia.

 

Virginia CascadesVirginia CascadesThe Cascades Falls in Giles County Virginia.

The final few were taken with a Rokinon 24mm 1.4.  I had planned on a different photo project for this lens, but the weather forced me into something different... oh well:)

Virginia CascadesVirginia CascadesThe Cascades Falls in Giles County Virginia.

I really do love stop-action waterfall images.

Virginia CascadesVirginia CascadesThe Cascades Falls in Giles County Virginia.

Virginia CascadesVirginia CascadesThe Cascades Falls in Giles County Virginia.

By the time I got back up to the Barney's Wall parking area,  civil twilight had begun and the light from the sky was dropping fast.  A large area of ferns caught my about a quarter-mile from the car.  At first, I shot using available light with a long exposure, and then tried a little light painting with my cell phones flashlight.

Natural lighting.

Virginia CascadesVirginia CascadesImages of the Cascades Waterfall near Pembroke Virginia.

The Rokinon 24mm 1.4 Performed really well here.  But I must say I favor the above image.

Virginia CascadesVirginia CascadesThe Cascades Falls in Giles County Virginia.

Thanks again!


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