Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Shooting Waterfalls sans Filter

I went out recently specifically to hike and shoot a couple waterfalls in the area.  I had been to one of them once before and would be seeing the other for the first time.  Heavy rains had just passed thru the day before so I knew that should make for some nice 'falls.  Most of these pictures are from Blue Hen Falls and the only time I was there before was a couple years ago and it was dry. 

One challenge I had was not having an ND or even a Polarizing filter.  How was I going to limit highlights and make the water appear smooth as envisioned?  As it turned out, the shade under the wooded canopy would help to not blow out the highlights as the trees allowed only spotlights of sun when it was shining.  But still, even those spotlights could be blown with long exposures.  Shooting in raw helped also, as I could easily correct the few minor hot spots that did occur.

For the smooth water effect I was after I chose ISO 100 (lowest sensor sensitivity) with an aperture that would allow for a sufficiently slow shutter speed.  To do so meant frequently using f/22 which was the minimum aperture for the lens I was using.  It also helped that there was plenty of water and it was moving swiftly.  And of course, all these conditions necessitated the use of a tripod.

While I used a wide angle lens most of the time I did grab the 300mm and came away with the shot below and really like the way it turned out.  The camera was aimed at the top of the falls and shooting thru leaves that were a short distance from the lens.  It all lends to a nice abstract image.

And then I converted it to black & white which looks really nice, too.

This prompted me to convert the first image in this post to black & white as well.  It turned out to be one of my favorites.

Blue Hen Falls was nice in that I was able to move around and try different angles and elevations.  And, I was the only person there.  Not so at Brandywine Falls.  This is the one I had not been to before.  It was busy with a lot of people around and only one viewing area that I could make out.  So everyone there taking pictures was taking them from relatively the same place.  The hike from Stanford House to the 'falls was really nice, though, and next time I'm going to try to find a different way to view and shoot it.  As it was, I made do with this shot.  No tripod and too fast shutter speed but the sun was shining bright on the water and a slower shutter would have badly blown the highlights.

All in all, I really enjoyed this outing.  Nice hike.  Nice photos.  Things to consider for next time are to look for different vantage points and obtain and use polarized and/or ND filters.  Nevertheless, I think this was a successful shoot.

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