Photo Tip Friday - Let's Discuss Some Photos

Welcome back to Photo Tip Friday.

The last 3 posts taught you about what the letters on your camera's dial mean.

You can read Part 1here, which covers an overview.
You can read Part 2 here, which covers Aperture Values.
You can read Part 3 here, which covers ISO and Time Values.

Today, we're going to start pulling it all together.

I'm going to show you some shots I took last autumn at a waterfall in North Carolina. I'm showing you shots that I wouldn't normally put up on my site. The reason? These aren't the best shots of the waterfall. But they are really powerful for illustrating how to use ISO, Aperture and Time to create a better shot.

And, if you're like me at all, you tend to compare yourself to others. I want to show you that while I have some shots I love and am proud of, not all pictures are created equal. You may need to take quite a few shots to get a few you love.

So, let's get started.

As you can see from this shot, the sky is a beautiful blue and the trees are in full fall color. In order to get this color, I shot the time at  an aperture of 2.8 which means the shutter was wide open and so lots of light could get in. This meant that the speed of the shutter had to be fast to not be overexposed. The shutter was open for 1/200th of a second.

And the color is great. But here's the problem. The area in the shadows around the fall is really dark. Too dark. And the water isn't "milky" smooth.

The camera "stopped" the water.

I got great color, but it isn't quite what I wanted.
So, I tried again.

Notice how different my settings were.

I maintained an ISO of 100 since it was bright outside.

But this time, I knew I wanted to make the water milky so I had to be able to leave the shutter open longer.

This meant I had to go to aperture f/22 which means the shutter opening was smaller. That meant I could then leave it open longer (time value) and not have the entire shot be washed out.

This time, the shutter was open for 1 second. (Yes, I was using a tripod.) Notice how smooth the water looks. But do notice the sky isn't as deeply blue and the foliage isn't as intense either.

In post photo processing, you can edit the color. I'm not going into that today. But you can't make the water milky in the first shot in post processing. 

And these shots have not been edited.

So start learning what's most important in the shot at the time you take it.

HELPFUL HINT: Shooting waterfalls in direct sunlight is difficult.  

On to the next examples.

Notice the low aperture of 2.8 which allows a lot of light in and.

So the shutter speed of 1/40 of a second is slower but still doesn't get the milky effect I wanted.

This time, I raised the aperture to f/11 and slowed the shutter speed more for a time of 1/3 of a second.

It gave me the milky effect I wanted, but again, the sky is more washed out than I wanted.

I haven't edited these shots.

Since I wasn't getting the effect I wanted, I decided to try a different angle.

I like this shot. And as you can see, though, I haven't cropped it so you can see the man on the left. Notice he's a little blurry.


Because I had the shutter open for 1/3 of a second to get the milky water effect. But the man moved and he's a tad blurry.

Finally, braving the extremely cold water, I headed directly toward the fall. Then, I got up against the rocks, with water swirling. Then I closed in on the bottom of fall and the water right in front of me. I love the uniqueness of this shot.

No one else there that day got this shot. None of them were silly enough like me to head into the cold water. But I'm happy with my shot.

So, which do you like best?

Any questions? :)

Hope these tips help.

Keep on clicking!



  1. I love the first one with the darker falls but the brilliant fall color. And although you were shooting for the milky water effect, I really like the "real" look of the waterfall in that one.

    I also love the last shot. It appears your braveness paid off. :)

    1. Thanks Alycia! I'm quite happy with the last shot! :) THe funny part was every time I looked up, someone was taking a picture of the crazy woman in the river!

  2. Wonderful tips!!! I never thought about slowing down the shot to get that milky effect. That last one really is stunning. Can't wait to see how you would post process these to get some of the color back.

    I am hosting a photography link party and would love it if you would share these tips and/or other photography posts. Hope you come check it out:

    1. Thanks for dropping by! I look forward to linking up with you week after week! Love your tagline! Mary

  3. You have some serious gems of knowledge! I am really trying to use and become familiar with my camera, I love this post! You photos turned out great, and love how you posted the bad ones, so we can see the improvement. I really shows what small changes to the settings can really do.

    Thanks so much for linking up to Photog Show and Tell! I hope you share more of your photos with us :)

    1. Oops, I forgot to say that you are being featured at our next party! It starts tomorrow! Thanks again for linking up!