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Category: All About Photography : Photographing Specific Subjects : Destination and Travel Photography Tutorial

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Photography Question 
Eli Boschetto
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/13/2008
 

Photographing Waterfalls


Hi All. I've been spending a lot of time in the Columbia Gorge photographing the spring runoff in the countless waterfalls out there. I've been experimenting with switching my white balance between sun (which gives me deep greens and cool, blue-toned water) and shadow (which gives me warmer, richer greens and white- to gray-toned water). Is there a "right" exposure for this kind of shot? Thanx ~ Eli

5/29/2008 8:18:26 AM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Eli,

Othere than HDR, the difficulty with waterfalls isn't so much white balance, but rather proper exposure; which is next to impossible to get right with one shot.

The water is almost always pure white...255-255-255 on the RGB scale.

The best way to capture this would be with one, two or 3 exposures; then simply layer them and erase away the blown out water so the properly exposed water shows thru.

Or reverse the proceedure and go for everything except the water.


all the best,

Pete

5/29/2008 9:55:44 AM

 
W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
Have you tried polarizing yet, Eli?

5/29/2008 10:10:57 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com

member since: 12/13/2005
 
 
  Silver Falls
Silver Falls
iso100, f/22, 1.0s 40mm, tripod, circular polarizer
© Carlton Ward
carltonwardphoto.com
Canon EOS 40D Digi...
 
 
Hi Eli,
I use a tripod and set ISO at 100, my DOF to f/18 or f/22. I also use a circular polarizer (B&W Kaeseman) so you can control water reflections and allow for slower shutter speeds and use a remote shutter release. Most of my waterfall images on my website are done this way.
Have fun - Carlton

5/29/2008 1:26:10 PM

 
Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
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member since: 6/11/2005
  I just returned from Oregon and took some shots in the same area as you. For me personally, I hate the sunlight. You'll most likely wash out the whites on the water, especially if using auto-focus. I use a polarizer to cut the light, because I want the smooth flowing water, so I try to get an exposure less than 1/8th of a second. 1/2 second is usually fine. At longer exposures, like several seconds, I think it's too smoothed out. And I also change exposure compensation to minus 1 or lower, to hopefully avoid washing out the water. Then, you can do some post-processing things to balance out the exposure in the dark areas. Bottom line: Get a polarizer or neutral density filters, and shoot in cloudy weather, or even in shade. You don't have to have sunlight to get good color saturation. Quite the opposite.

5/29/2008 1:52:01 PM

 
Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Eli,
A popular subject of waterfalls and all good advice. Sometimes changing the white balance can "fool" the camera into giving you a "warmer" color. Depending on the camera, you can sometimes set a different color balance. On the Nikon D200, for example, in most situations the 5000K color temperature setting gives good results. But in this instance, as has been pointed out, the polarizer and type of light to start with has more to do with the image.
Bruce

6/3/2008 5:15:30 AM

 
Eli Boschetto
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/13/2008
  Thanx all, for the very good information. ~ Eli

6/3/2008 7:46:37 AM

 
Charlotte LaBarbera
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/21/2004
  Bryan Peterson in his course "Understanding Exposure", recommended shooting waterfalls on overcast days and metering off the foliage. Correct exposure will be a minus 1/2 stop.

Charlotte

6/3/2008 10:14:06 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com

member since: 12/13/2005
  Thats funny Charlotte, it was Bryan Petersons book "Understanding Exposure", he mentioned Better Photo which is how I learned of its existance and have been a member ever since. Its a great book as well.

6/3/2008 10:48:18 AM

 
Charlotte LaBarbera
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/21/2004
  Carlton,

Bryan's class, "Understanding Exposure" was my first BetterPhoto class and it was the Best! I didn't purchase the book, but do refer back to my class lessons and notes regularly and carry a list of some of the key things I learned in my camera bag. Recommendations for difficult exposures, etc. That class was a real turning point for me and my work. I did purchase his book, "Learning to See Creatively" and really enjoy it.

Charlotte

6/3/2008 11:09:09 AM

 
Charlotte LaBarbera
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/21/2004
  Eli,

Just had another thought. You didn't mention if you were shooting in JPEG or RAW. One of the advantages in RAW is that you can change and experiment with the white balance after the fact.

I also just completed a white balance assignment for a class where we had to do comparisons on different subjects. We were taught to use a Preset white balance using a gray card. The Preset setting was superior to the other camera settings each time. It's a little more work, but if time allows, worth it.

Charlotte

6/3/2008 12:24:08 PM

 

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