Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Want to take beautiful photos of waterfalls?

Want to take beautiful photos of waterfalls? Do you like that milky/silky smooth effect in waterfall photos? You can take such photos too, in most situations, with most cameras. It is not difficult. However in following cases it becomes a sort of challenge.
* Most smartphones or fully point and shoot cameras in many situations will not be able to take such photos. You need a camera that offers some manual controls.
* If you are looking at the waterfall in broad day light, many cameras may run into limitations. In a sort of low light, you are in good luck.

During my tour of Big Island, Hawaii, I came across some waterfalls. After some trial and errors, I was able to take some nice photos with a FujiFilm point and shoot camera.

The first photo I took in auto mode did not take a photo with the silky feel. So changed the camera to Tv/Shutter priority mode and made some adjustments. In few minutes, I was able to take nice photos.

Here are some tips for you.
* It is important that you have a tripod. If you don't have one, find a flat surface where you can put your camera. I didn't have a tripod either but I was able to find a place to put my camera. Many times, I use the strap and put it under the camera to create the angle I need. Takes some time to figure out but if you are lazy like me and don't want to carry a tripod, , this is a small cost. In my experience, in 80-90% of the situations, I am able to find a flat surface to put the camera on.
* Set the camera to Timer mode- 2 seconds or 10 seconds delayed mode. This helps eliminate the shake due to pressing of the shutter release button.
* Change the mode dial to Tv or S mode- Shutter Priority. Set the shutter speed to around .5 second or so. Then if needed, you can change it to 1 second or reduce it to .25 seconds or so.
* Set ISO to 100. If your camera lets  you set the ISO, set it to 100 or the lowest value.

You are all set. Take a photo and see if it comes out well. If the effect is not strong, you can slow down the shutter speed. Let the shutter stay open a bit longer. If the photo comes a bit washed out, you need to reduce the light. To reduce the light, keep the shutter open for less time. In other words, make it faster. As we are shooting in Tv or S mode, camera will choose the Aperture value for us. If you are a bit advanced user, you can shoot in M or Manual exposure mode. Start with Shutter-speed of .5 seconds, f 8 or so and ISO 100. Then as needed, change the values.
If you are shooting in broad light, your photos are likely to be washed out with such a long exposure. One solution to reduce the light is to use ND Neutral Density filter. This filter is like sunglasses or a tinted film. This can help you shoot with longer exposure without getting your photos washed out. In case if you don't have the filter, you can try to put your sunglasses in front of the camera (make sure you clean them) to reduce the light getting on the sensor.
Try this out and let me know if this helps. As I keep saying, if you help your camera, your camera will help you take nice photos. Also, you can take good photos with almost any camera in most of the situations.
Happy shooting.
Here is one more photo I took on that day on the Big Island.
Waterfall, Big Island, Hawaii