Sunday, October 16, 2016

Photographing Waterfalls

Autumn is a gorgeous time of year to photograph waterfalls
because of the colorful foliage.

I live in the beautiful state of Michigan which has more than
200 waterfalls...most of them in the upper peninsula.

I just got back from a waterfall photography tour in the upper peninsula starting
with Tahquamenon Falls near Paradise, Michigan.

What a spectacle!

I shot from above:

Then hiked down 196 steps...

To shoot from below.

This falls is a unique copper color caused by the
tannins that leach from cedar swamps in the area.

Next, I drove through spectacular fall color to Grand Marais,
a small city on the coast of Lake Superior...

Then hiked down more steps...

To Sable Falls!

If you photograph a waterfall with a quick shutter speed, you will
freeze the tumbling water for a look like this:

To create a feeling of movement in the's much prettier to blur 
the falling water to create a silky look like this:

To capture this flowing drama, you will need to use a tripod and a long shutter speed.

In the case of the photo above, I used a 25-second shutter! 

In darker conditions such as near nightfall, or on an extremely cloudy day or
close to day break, you can capture a long shutter. 

But on a sunny or even overcast day, you know that a shutter open for 25 LONG seconds
is going to totally blow out the photo.

So, I purchased this neutral density filter for my Canon f24-105 lens.

Look on the inside of your lens cap to see what size
filter you will need for the lens you want to use.
Mine was a 77mm.

I bought a variable neutral density filter that allows
you to change the amount of light that enters your camera
 by simply dialing the filter.

I set my camera to the Shutter priority mode (TV on a Canon. S on a Nikon)

I set my ISO at 100 and allowed the camera to choose the aperture.

The longer the shutter is open, the creamier the effect on the moving water,
so I started by setting my shutter at 20-seconds.

With your neutral density filter on the lightest setting, compose
your shot and get a focus.  Set the focus to manual on your lens so it won't
change when you click the shutter.

Use a remote starter or set your camera for a 2-second delay
to avoid camera shake.

Next, dial your filter to the darkest setting and do a test shot.

You will have to test various settings on the filter and
maybe change your shutter speed to get the
perfect exposure for your light conditions.
  I was so frustrated because I kept forgetting to dial
the filter back to dark after focusing!

But the results are stunning!

Many photographers flock to Michigan waterfalls in autumn,
so I had to wait my turn.  I loved meeting others
who are passionate about photographing such beauty!

Next stop...Miner's Falls which was a half hour hike
through these gorgeous woods.

This waterfall was tall and mighty surrounded by majestic pines!

I love that silky water look!

Finally, we hiked through another gorgeous woods...

up and down more stairs...

to Munising Falls:

I have been wanting to do this trip for years, and
now I can finally cross it off my bucket list.

Plan ahead if you want to photograph a waterfall
and you will LOVE the results!

Watch my video tutorial to learn how to change the color
of fall leaves!

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