All you need to know to Photograph Waterfalls

All you need to know to Photograph Waterfalls

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During my photographic trips it often happens to be in the places that have waterfalls nearby and every time I don’t miss the opportunity to go and visit some of them.
The reason for this is that in addition to their natural beauty and charm of the fullness of nature they have an incredible variety

Waterfalls also represent an incredible photographic spot for every landscape photographer for the context in which they are often inserted and for the possibility of photographing them from multiple angles, radically changing the perspective and the sensations that are transmitted to the viewer

So in this article we will see all you need to know to photograph waterfalls starting from necessary equipments up to shooting tips

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

Tripod: One of the essential requirements for every long exposure shot is a sturdy tripod, when using the tripod in the field always consider the slippery surfaces that are around the falls, explore the position well to find the right pov

Lenses: in most cases it happen to photograph the falls with the help of a wide angle lenses, these lenses are the best to include as much as possible of the scenery around the waterfall and allows to create good compositions with foreground, rocks, water etc. It is also interesting trying different angles, for example with 24-70 (it depends on the waterfall) to have a closer look of the scene

ND Filters: this is the part of your gear that in many cases manages to give that extra touch to the movement of your waterfall. It is not required a strong ND because the waterfalls are almost always found in wooded areas and with not too strong lighting, a 3 – 6 stop is usually what I use most

At the same time happened to me to photograph waterfalls even without any filter to catch the movement in a different way or simply because I liked the flow of water as it was

Waterfall captured without ND Fiters

SHOOT IN THE RIGHT MOMENT

Unlike many landscapes, waterfall photography can be done in different conditions, if usually in landscape photography you try to avoid gray and flat skies or rainy days, these are instead the ideal days to take the waterfalls. So cloudy day will helps so much to create a natural soft light to your waterfall

It is also possible to photograph waterfalls in sunny days to take advantage of the sunlight that filters through the leaves of the vegetation to have beautiful light effects, in this cases you have to pay attention to the water reflections and avoid to keep them too overexposed or creating too much contrasted areas

Waterfall captured during Sunset

CAMERA SETUP

Iso: Since you’re using a tripod to photograph waterfalls use the lowest ISO possible, this will reduce the noise and capture the most dynamic range

Shutter Speed: The key is to use slows shutter speed, I usually move through f13 or f18 it depends of what filter I am using for the shot, I try to avoid diaphragms totally closed to for this kind of photo unless it should also include sun spikes

Manual Mode and Manual Focus: If you are using ND filters on waterfall, manual mode is a must because the camera didn’t always choose the aperture I needed to get the right depth of field.

Manual Focus it is a very important requirement to have the sharpest images possible, it constitutes that added value to your landscape photography, to better master manual focus read this article

Waterfall composition example

Compose the Waterfall Scene: This is the most important point, composing the frame doesn’t mean simply photography a waterfall but capture it’s movement, the envinroments that composed it. Every waterfall has a lot of vegetation, rocks, trees, leaves around it. The goal is to capture an image that includes the waterfall within the context in which it is located, this will make the image much more interesting for the viewer

Always Watch Highlights: In waterfall photography the water probably will be your primary subject, so the best choice will be to expose to the waterfall in order to control the highlights on the water. Always check the instogram to control the shot and avoid too much underexposed/overexposed areas

Freeze Trees: Capturing one shot of the scene without the use of filters or long exposures is important for having a static image of the waterfall and its surroundings. Waterfalls are often in wooded environments full of leaves and trees that can move and move with the wind making all the leaves fuzzy. Capturing one or more shots in this way will allow you to replace the blurry areas in post processing

In this image I used the exposure to save the trees from movement

Bonus Post Processing Tip: A general tip for post processing waterfall is to take the highlights down, usually I do the same but in camera Raw I balance this using white points. I capture the scene with multiple exposures in order to blend images, for example with trees as I described above or to darken or lighten properly the exposures using digital blending or luminosity masks

If you haven’t already download my free luminosity masks panel to make your workflow easier and start using it on your next waterfall shot


Afterlight II

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I took this photo earlier than my last posted last week.
In this photo I wanted instead to take a larger part of the frame by going to directly insert the reflection of the sun also inside the water

I absolutely love the winter scenery on mountain lakes, here conditions change continuously and every shot can give you totally different look

I closed the shutter to catch the spikes of the sun with the help of a series of shots taken later to eliminate the lens flare, some time ago I also wrote an article that I recommend you read on the topic: 5 useful tips to shoot into the sun direction

Putting the hand on the sun on the camera is a great way to have a shot without any lens flare, this allows you to have a clean shot very usefull to mask out all flares


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I digital blended the exposure using TTS Pro, the blend focused mainly on lightening the shadows using the overexposed shot

As I saied on top I used the shot without reflections to eliminate the lens flare on the water and around the rock on the right

I increased the detail by removing the effect on the water, then I added a slight orton effect as I do in practically all my images

Always using my panel, I fixed contrast using luminosity masks applied to curves, I increased the color vibrance and I pushed up sun warmth by applying luminosity masks to a warming filters

As last steps I added a small vignette and pushed up the shadows using luminosity masks

I hope you will find this informations usefull! I like and I’m avaiable to ear feedback from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Sigma 24-70 f/2,8 (used at 31 mm)

Single Shot

ISO: 100 at f/13

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


The Sky in the Lake

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During my last trip in Carinthia I visited many of the famous lakes that distinguish this area in Austria. Mostly these are large swimming lakes, with very interesting views of the mountains, but what you see in the picture was what fascinated me most

I’m talking about the famous Faaker lake, on my arrival I was impressed by the incredible silence that was heard in the clearing, only the noise that I heard was the ducks bathing in the distance, I walked on the shore for a few time until I found this point of view with these moorings for boats

I started taking some test shots until over time the sky brought out the beautiful colors of the golden hour, coloring not only the clouds behind the mountains but the whole body of water of the lake where the sky was perfectly reflected

I tried both compositions both vertical and horizontal but the vertical one was the one that gave greater depth to the photo and greater movement also thanks to the leaf that was at the bottom



WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I blended my exposures using digital blending, after this I edited colors to give more emphasis to yellows and golden hour colours. I increased details and contrast in order to let the image result less flat

I added orton effect to create a dreamy look and make the image more pop, after some adjustments using luminosity masks on the exposure and highlights I used dodge an burn on the poles and on the leaf in order to give more result and make them less dark

I added a soft vignette to darked the lower part of the picture and give more sense of depth on the whole picture

I always hope you will find this usefull. I like to ear this from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Sigma 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 22 mm)

Three Shots (-1; 0; +1)

ISO: 100 at f/13

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


From Red to Green

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Here is my first photo published in 2020, for this image I resume the location of my last photo published, I am talking about the beautiful Dolomites and its incredibles scenery

These are the waterfalls of Fanes, imposing waterfalls that are located inside a gorge and can only be reached through a wide climb on the promontory which must be followed by an equally descent to see them from below

I photographed the waterfalls from the top of the promontory in front of me in order to portray as much as possible the flow of water from the source to the end

The same atmosphere of the low clouds can be seen in the upper part of the photo above the trees giving them a mysterious look


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I blended the shots using digital blending to create the image to work on, the final bled is not so much far from the original shot, I just take some point of the brighter exposure to give more lights around the rock and to increase the softness of the water

I increased the yellow colours applying a warmer filter to the highlights through luminosity masks, after this details was increased using TTS Pro details effects

I fixed contast and lights around the rocks, after this I pushed up some colours like the autumn colours and the end of the waterfall to better look the amazing blue colour of the water

I also created a small vignette to give more darkness of the area around the waterfall and concentrate the viewer’s eye on the waterfall

I hope you will find this usefull. I always love to ear this from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Sigma 24-70 f/2,8 (used at 30mm)

Three Shots (-1; 0; +1)

ISO: 100 at f/13

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


Where Tomorrow Goes

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A blue hour at the beginning of darkness at Passo Falzarego, a beautiful atmosphere during the day and a night that turns out to be even more interesting an mysterious

I took this photo just before darkness shoting on one of the main peaks and working with a focus stacking between the backround mountain and the foreground shrub

My main intent in this photo was to convey a sense of darkness and mystery, I used focus stacking on a bracketing series which that I blended with luminosity masks in Photoshop


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I blended the shot using TTS Pro to achieve a final shot with both background and foreground in focus, after this I increased the blue colours and decreased the exposure to intensify the dark mood

I increased details and I applied a orton effect, , after this I fixed contrast over the frame. I added a soft blue filter and with dodge and burn tool I made some painting over the shrub and over the mountain

I fixed the lights and darkness using luminosity masks and I increased sharpen over the mountain, as last touch I increased the vignette giving more light to the center of the image

I always hope you will find this usefull. I’m happy to ear that from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 70-200 f/2,8 (used at 102mm)

Three Shots (-1; 0; +1)

ISO: 320 at f/7,1

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


The Hiding

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Today I post two shots of a details of some peaks during my hike in Passo Falzarego. That day I was surrounded by clouds, I took these two photos while I was uphill and the colors of the sunset that struck these two high peaks struck my attention

The colors in those days were fabulous, accentuated even more by the magic of the low clouds which, as I wrote in previous posts, contributed to creating a magnificent atmosphere throughout the valley


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

For both exposures I made two handheld shots. For both shots I followed the same workflow in order to obtain 2 similar images. I proceeded for a digital blending than adding details using TTS Pro

I added some warm colours using luminosity masks applied to hightlighs and a warmer filter. After adding a small orton effect, I increased the yellow colours where the sun hit the mountain helping myself with a dodge and burn tool to empatize the lighting

I fixed lights and contrast in the highlights and shadows, I added some lights using a white brush with the glow tool

The last touch was to add a small vignette to increase the darkness around the border

I always hope you will find this usefull. I’m happy to ear that from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 70-200 f/2,8 (used at 102mm)

Three Shots (-1; 0; +1)

ISO: 320 at f/7,1

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


Losing Sight

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During the days I stay at the Dolomites, the splendid scenery of the mountain in autumn was constantly changing. Very intense days of cloudiness alternated with low clouds to rainy days, unfortunately not always all suitable for taking good photos

That afternoon I was literally surrounded by low clouds on the horizon and I took a lot of photos in this mountain scenery so particular and engaging. In this photo the clouds moving towards the forest below

It was a very beautiful atmosphere, rarely seen in the past at these levels as I said in my previous post. More photos will follow with similar scenarios of those days


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

This image is a result of a digital blending with 2 exposures (of course I captured 3 but used just 2) that I blended using TTS Pro with auto blend darks function inside that instantly blend a darker exposure into a brighter exposure

After this I started edit the shot using luminosity masks correcting lighting in the sky and shadows, I also fixed contrast using midtones masks. I increased details that I partially muted with a orton effect.

I fixed up colours adding more vibrance and giving more yellow tones around the trees and the part of the mountain touched by sunlight

I made a small crop to cut off an empty space below and I made some small intervention with clone stamp tool to remove some rain drops

Last touch was to add a small vignette excluding the sky because it makes the clouds too dark

I hope you will find this usefull. I’m happy to listen it from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 70-200 f/2,8 (used at 102mm)

Three Shots (-1; 0; +1)

ISO: 320 at f/7,1

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


The Wood of the Giant

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I recently spent a few days on the Dolomites to take a different tour than I did last time. To tell the truth, every time I try to do a different tour because the alternatives of beautiful natural places to visit here are really very much

Among my stops there was certainly a decent excursion to Passo Falzarego where I could admire a beautiful autumn scenery, in fact the whole area had a splendid view of red trees with low clouds, the one you see in the picture is a portion of what he surrounded me, in the next posts I will have the opportunity to show you the fullness of the autumnal scenery of the area

I also love the beautiful atmosphere that creates low clouds, on this day the colors and the atmosphere of the sky have really created a show that I have rarely seen. It must be said that I also had to face quite difficult days from a meteorological point of view, some days the clouds were so low that visibility was practically zeroed and rain don’t spared me, so a good mood but with moderation 🙂


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I captured 3 exposure in bracketing to make this shot, I make a blend manually using luminosity masks and my panel TTS Pro. I increased the yellows applying a warm filter to the highlights and shadows and I lighten up the light source using the glow tool

After this I increased details selectively and I applied a orton effect to create a dark dreamy look atmosphere to the mountain than, with the use of dodge and burn I increased the light source and the lights rays through the trees

I set the contrast and highlights and I increased the highlights, after a soft shadow recovery the last touch was to set the vibrance to give more show to the colors of autumn

I hope you will find this usefull. Love to ear this from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 70-200 f/2,8 (used at 105mm)

Three Shots (-1; 0; +1)

ISO: 320 at f/9

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


Halfway to the Coast

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The beautiful colors of the Cilento cliffs are one of my favorite spots in this area. This year I have been several times here and every time I managed to capture great sunsets and as many beautiful colors. The mountains are not far from the sea here and this creates a beautiful atmosphere at sunset

When I took this photo in the evening the sea was very rough, I put my tripod on a rock sheltered from the high water and started shooting with the colors of the golden hour until almost complete darkness

Capturing the entire event allowed me to take the whole dynamic range of the scene. In particular the brightly colored sky is the result of the yellow colors of the sunset when it was to turn towards the blue, having more series of shots at my disposal it allowed me to protect the yellows by exploiting the beautiful purple colors of “evening”

At the same time the long exposure of the water was captured in another series of shots that I used on the main frame to edit


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

For this shot I makes 2 different blends: one for a series captured during the golde hour and another with another exposure series captured during the blue hour, so with more darkness.

I selected the shot with the golden hour and I used the blue hour blend to make some adjustments in the main frame, so I used it to blend, water and some part of the sky that i want to replace with a more dark image

I added details and I increased yellow colours in the sky using a warm filter applied to luminosity masks. I used dodge and burn on the rocks to make some lights effect in the direction of the sun, I always used dodge and burn to soften som lights coming from the clouds. I added orton effect and I increased the contrast using TTS Pro that have this function applied to luminosity masks in order to create a series of curves easy to adjust

I fixed the finale exposure and I increased the shadows to mitigate the darkess coming from the foreground rocks

As final step I made some colours increase adjustments, pushing up the vibrance but reducing the blues becoming too strong

I hope you will find this usefull. I like to ear this from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 22mm)

Three Shots (-1; 0; +1) x2

ISO: 100 at f/14

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


Focus: Mastering Luminosity Masks Digital Course

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My first video tutorial Mastering Luminosity Masks has finally come out, in this article I want to talk to you more in detail about this course, the reasons that led me to create a course on luminosity masks and why this will be an additional element of knowledge to your photography

What is Mastering Luminosity Masks Course

As you will have the opportunity to read and understand also from the page dedicated to the course, mastering luminosity masks is a video tutorial that leads you through the word of luminosity masks

Through the use of luminosity masks it is possible to work images only using Photoshop, taking advantage of an advanced level of selections of highlights, shadows and midtones

Through luminosity masks it is possible to proceed to an advanced level editing, intervening only in the areas of our interests, without affecting those portions of the frame that do not require any process

Furthermore, luminosity masks can be used to proceed through digital blending, that consist in selecting areas of interest and combine multiple exposure to obtain the perfect final image

A Luminosity Mask Course

Luminosity masks are a technique known by all those photographers who want to ask more from photography and want to go deeper in the editing process

This is a fairly used technique and there is many material on the web about it, but from what I could see the free contents on the web, they remains on the first steps of luminosity masks topic leaving the rest to a other researches or paid courses

Although there are very well-done pro courses to luminosity masks topic, but from a personal experience I found many of them too long, sometimes repetitive and expensive

Since many time in my posts and in my tutorials I write about the use of luminosity masks, but I have never focused on creating a course of my own that encompasses everything you need to know in detail in order to proceed alone to mastering luminosity masks and digital blending

In this course I have included everything you need to know to be able to manage this technique on your own, in the simplest way I could. I avoided dwelling on laborious things so I realized a course that captures the essence of luminosity masks. I created this course to allow you to manage this technique independently in the future

The additional element to your Photography

Luminosity Masks are the best technique to create a clean result on your images. Through the use of luminosity masks you will understand the importance of handling highlights, shadows and midtones in your photography

It is an additional element of knowledge for all those photographers who want to do a step forward the common used Photoshop editing techniques

The use of HDR software or Photoshop plugins, simply add filters and effects to the photos but makes images surreal and oversaturated

The step forward is to achieve a personal process of editing and learn capturing the images thinking of what you will do when you work on Photoshop

If you’re wondering how some photographers get beautiful clean and detailed pictures Mastering Luminosity Masks course is what I suggest to you


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Hi, my name is Giuseppe Sapori, a professional photographer and author of this website, created by yours truly to show my work and share with you the techniques I use. My expertise is in the field of Landscape Photography... (Read More)

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