Dec19

Photographing Waterfalls: How to Make the Most of Your Camera

by Tom Lamb Categories // Trip Ideas, Outdoor Adventures, Misc

Photographing Waterfalls: How to Make the Most of Your Camera

North Georgia is blessed with an abundance of water flowing through the Appalachian Mountains. When this water encounters hard caprock or a particularly steep section, the result is often a waterfall or cascade. Waterfalls become a destination for hikers and sightseers. In fact, many of the hiking trails here in the mountains exist only to lead to a waterfall.

We’re blessed with water and waterfalls, but we’re also blessed with a number of extraordinarily talented outdoor photographers. Put the two together, and take a few moments to pick a photog’s brain, and you get both the beauty of magnificent waterfalls and some tips on how to capture their beauty forever with a single click.

Dahlonega native Jack Anthony has made a career of photographing waterfalls. He has produced two books; he hosts a website of waterfall photos; and is considered the local expert on the many waterfalls in North Georgia, which probably number more than 100.

Most hikers and sightseers do not have the luxury of thousands of dollars of professional equipment – nor do they want to lug heavy equipment around on their hikes. So, while Jack has the skill and the equipment, he also has knowledge to impart the casual hiker who may have nothing more than a cellphone or point-and-click camera.

Regardless of which type of equipment you use, here are some tips from Jack’s extensive palette of tricks for taking better waterfall photos.

  • When lining up your shot, try to frame it so that the water flows at an angle -- from one side to the other. This affords a much better effect of the water flowing than a straight-on shot and better shows the characteristics of the falls.
  • Instead of just showing the top to the bottom of the falls, include the pool at the bottom for superior composition.
  • Scale is important. A six-inch waterfall, if taken close up, can look 10 feet tall and a 60-foot falls from afar can look five feet tall. Try to include some kind of scale perspective, such as a person standing in the frame, a tree, or other object that easily demonstrates the actual size of the falls.
  • Get close. Fill the shot with the falls if possible. It is the focus of the shot.
  • If you have the ability to set the exposure speed, slow it down. This will blur the water and enhance the perceived speed of the water.
  • Even cellphone cameras have available attachments to enhance photos. Consider a polarizing lens for your camera. This attachment will filter out extraneous light and make the blue sky a deeper blue, knock down glare on the water, and will make it possible to see through the surface of the water.

Use these tips of the trade to get improved photos on your waterfall trips.

For more on Jack Anthony’s waterfall books and his website, go to http://www.landscapesbyjack.com.

About the Author

Tom Lamb

Tom Lamb

Tom Lamb is a retired 36 year teacher and avid outdoorsman. He moved to Dahlonega 13 years ago to live in the heart of hiking, backpacking, and whitewater boating country. He is the chairman of the Dahlonega Trail Fest and active in Yahoola Outdoors and a member of the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Tourism Committee.

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