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Photography Question 
Jessica Rae Hardy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/12/2005

How to Get the Effect of a Waterfall

Hey Guys,

How would I go about trying to shoot a waterfall, so I get the spray water effect if that makes any sense at all. Also, I am asking you all to have a look at my gallery and see what you think. Comments would be appreciated!

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9/26/2008 8:14:00 AM

Kerry Drager
BetterPhoto Member
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  Hi Jessica,
Good question, and I'm happy to help :-) If you are referring to the soft-and-silky flowing motion look of moving water (water fall, stream, fountain, ocean surf, etc.), here's what you need: a verrrrry slow shutter speed. :-) Now, for the best way to get that slow speed, you'll need:

- Low light: Total shade (no "hot" spots) or total overcast (i.e., white or gray sky). These conditions not only provide the potential for a slow shutter speed but are also so much more pleasing than bright sunlight, which can make moving-water scenes appear very harsh-looking (extreme highlights vs. deep shadows). (Note: Deep-tinted neutral-density filters can reduce the amount of light entering the camera - resulting in a slower speed - but won't affect lighting contrast.)

- Low ISO number.

- Small aperture (high f/number), which could be an added bonus if Depth of Field is desired (i.e., maximum sharpness from front to back with the smaller aperture).

- Often a polarizing filter works great, in order to reduce glare (which can occur even in overcast) and boost colors, while also further slowing down the exposure (since the polarizer is deep tinted). However, be sure to rotate the polarizer to see if it gives you the effect you want.

- With long exposures, you'll need a tripod.

Have fun photographing water, Jessica!

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9/26/2008 5:52:47 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Hi Jessica, I take a lot of waterfall photos and use Kerry's suggestions in keeping ISO at 100, DOF at f/18 - f/22, a circular polarizer, slow shutter speeds @ 0.6s to 8.0s, a tripod & remote shutter release. I bought the 77mm B&W Kaeseman CP filter since I use it a lot for water related images. It's more expensive but a very fine-quality filter and it brings out more detail in dark areas and controls the reflection off of the water very well. Take a peak at my website - I have a waterfall gallery and almost all of these images were done with this exact setup.
Good luck, Carlton

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9/30/2008 8:53:23 AM

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