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Photography Question 
MaryAnn L. Oakland
 

How to Shoot Waterfalls


 
 
Last weekend, we went to a lovely park with waterfalls and photographed them. We tried different shutter speeds to try to get that awesome foamy look that great waterfall photos have. We were disappointed as we did not achieve that look. The waterfall was overexposed, and we were not able to get that nice foamy look. What can we do to achieve that look? We used a tripod and went down as far as 1/160 of second for the shutter speed. Do we need to go slower for shutter speed and adjust the aperture? Does this only work for a certain type of waterfall? If so, what kind? Fast, slow, tall, etc. ... How about the time of day, does that have an effect on it also?


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5/5/2004 10:54:00 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Go down to around 1/15. You need turbulence to get the effect. It usually looks better if it's an overcast day or if the water is in the shade.


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5/5/2004 11:31:49 AM

 
MaryAnn L. Oakland   Thank you, will try that.


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5/7/2004 6:13:06 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
cammphoto.com
  The thing to keep in mind when selecting a shutter speed is that the human eye (and brain) sees motion at 1/60 second. A waterfall shot at that speed will look much it does to the naked eye. Any setting longer than that will cause the water to blur. Obviously, the longer the exposure time, the more pronounced the effect will be. What Gregory said about cloudy days or shade is very important, as it allows for the longer exposure times without blowing out the highlights. A slow film or ASA setting will help also. At ASA 100, speeds of 1 full second or more are possible on cloudy days or in deep shade.


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5/7/2004 7:12:41 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Better add that when I say go down to 1/15 of a second I mean correctly exposed at 1/15. Don't just put the shutter speed at that. You need an aperture that will give you 1/15, because I just noticed you said you overexposed at 160th. So you're about to really overexpose by just changing the shutter speed.


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5/7/2004 11:05:50 AM

 
Scott Pedersen   In order to get the right shutter speed/aperture combination, you will need to use a slower film like 100 or maybe 200, and you will have to visit it in the evening or early morning. In the middle of the day you have too much light to get the right combination. Actually, early morning is the time to do it as there is usually no one else around to get into your photo.


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5/11/2004 4:28:35 AM

 
MaryAnn L. Oakland   You have all been so helpful, thanks so much. I am going to print this out and follow this next chance I get.


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5/11/2004 5:51:34 AM

 
Darren K. Fisher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2002
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  When I am out shooting water, it is always done on an overcast day. This helps make the scene darker, along with using a polarizer, which darkens the scene more and helps take glare off of rocks. Another thing this does is gives you more realistic colors - on a normal day, your water will have blue tints and most likely hot spots. I normally use the settings of f/16 and anywhere from 1 sec or higher - the longer your exposure the more blurred your water will be. Another tip for you is to use a cable release or your timer on the camera. Hope this helps.


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5/11/2004 6:26:25 AM

 
Bill Lewis  
 
BetterPhoto.com Editor's Pick   Hocking Hills Fast Water
Hocking Hills Fast Water
© Bill Lewis
Minolta Maxxum 800...
 
 
I love to shoot water. Pick an overcast day with flat light. Meter on the greens or mid-tones in the scene. Check the speed of the water. Find something that is floating by. Time how long it takes the leaf to flow through the area you want to shoot. Set your shutter speed to 1/2 that speed or slower. Use you aperture to get the shutter speed that you need to blur the water. Bracket your exposures if you are using slide film. Keep field notes so you can learn from the results. I shoot 50 and 100 speed film at 2 to 6 seconds depending on water speed. If you use too slow a shutter speed on slow-moving water you will blow out the whites of the veil. Have some fun, and experiment. Keep notes to review your results.


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5/12/2004 6:31:29 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
cammphoto.com
  Thanks, Bill, for that great tip about timing something floating by. I spend a lot of time shooting moving water, and I'll definitely remember that when I go again.


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5/12/2004 9:59:10 PM

 
Ken Brown   If you're shooting 400 or 800 speed film, you'll never obtain a shutter speed slow enough even at very small apertures. If you routinely use fast film, you might want to use a neutral density filter, which reduces the amount of light entering the lens and thus necessitating longer exposure times.


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5/15/2004 6:05:19 PM

 
John L. Webb   All the perfect answers are above by this group. I use variations for all of the above with a nod to my own personal taste allwing the whites to blow out a bit but again, only for my own taste. I also have made use of a plain grey card for my aperture shutter speed guides as wel as not allowing the scene to fool any of my meters. I try lower angles and try to position something in the foreground such as a large rock formation to give the scene depth. In color, I have had my wife sprinkle rose petals upstream to catch them coming down for a splash of color.


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5/18/2004 5:57:59 AM

 
Eugene W. Juergensen   The best and most reasonable way to take care of old box camera negatives and to get them printed. Once the picture is on the computer one can work wonders with the prints. Thanks for your help and suggestions.

Rev. Eugene W. Juergensen


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5/18/2004 8:53:53 AM

 
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