Photo Tip Friday - Part 2: How to Take Pictures of Waterfalls

by Mary Denman
Twitter: @MaryDenman
Instagram: MaryFDenman

The Reedy River, normal water flow

Welcome back for Part 2 of How to Take Pictures of Waterfalls! In case you missed it, you can read last week's post here. 

(Note: Last week's photos of the falls were taken right after a torrential rainstorm. This week's shots are more typical of the water flow and were shot on a different day.)

We covered the two main options for taking waterfall photos: 
1) Stop the motion with a "fast speed" of film. Use an ISO of 800 or higher.
2) Blur the motion with a longer shutter opening. Use a time of 1/10 of a second or longer. (This second option requires a tripod or solid surface to set your camera on.) 

But one of the things that I pointed out is that the best "milky" shots of waterfalls are taken on cloudy days. This then begs the question, what do you do if the sun is out when you want to take the pictures? I'm glad you asked. 

The sun popped out for a few minutes while I was taking pictures. I took this shot which was washed out. But notice I had it on ISO 100 and f/22. I was trying to leave the shutter open long enough to get the milky effect. But it didn't quite work.

If a waterfall is in direct sunlight, you'll probably have to go for option one. Try to stop the motion of the water. Leaving the shutter open for a 1/6 to 1/10 of a second or more can wash out the picture as you can see. 

So, I left the ISO and Aperture the same and made the time a little faster. Look at the difference in color and saturation. Neither of these pictures have been retouch. This is exactly how my camera took them. 

Then I decided to just take a different kind of shot to deal with the sunlight on the water. 

I focused on this hydrangea in the foreground. The water is out of focus in the background. Aren't the colors rich and beautiful?

BIG TIP IDEA: Learn how to use the Manual button on your camera and experiment! It will be trial and error, but hopefully, you can see by my photos that you do have to think on your feet with getting good waterfall shots. 

So, how can you practice if you don't live near a waterfall? 

Here's a photo challenge for you: Head to your bathroom or out to the hose in your yard! You heard me right! You can take picture after picture of water flowing from the convenience of your home and start honing your skills. AND, I challenge you to post the pictures on Wordless Wednesday and let me know that you have! I would love to see what you came up with! 

FOR CELL PHONE USERS: While you can't control the aperture of your camera, remember that you can control the focal point which is where you control the light the sensor reads. If you touch the screen in one place and your pic is washed out, retake it and try having the camera focus somewhere else. 

When you blog, what's your reason to blog? 
To help others? To tell stories? To teach? Just as I have a focal point to my photos, I have to pick a focal point of my blog posts. Think about whether or not you're taking a snap shot of life, stopping the motion around you to focus in on what's important. Or are you taking a longer view, maybe over time to gain perspective. Just as we have to choose how to photograph something, we also have to choose how we blog. Look for patterns in your writing, in you life. And let me know what you find! 

Hope this tip helps!

Keep on clicking!


Next week will be part 1 of 2 parts on PET PHOTOGRAPHY! 
Portraits and action shots!



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  1. Wonderful pictures. You are sooo good at taking them and teaching the best points. Thanks.

    1. Thanks Karen! I really appreciate that! :) Have a great weekend.

  2. I love the idea of building my blog around a focal point. I usually have an idea but I don't always spend the time to focus in on the heart of the message.

    1. It looks like you have an assignment Sherry! Read back over your posts and see if you have a pattern. Spend a week or two thinking about your readers.

      If you find you want to go in a different direction with your blog, that's okay too! All blogs change over time. :)

      Let me know if you get inspired!

  3. This is a great post with an excellent challenge at the end. I'm sharing this one on Google+ :)

    1. Thanks Tina! I'm always trying to refine my blog. Having direction sure does help. I hope you have a great weekend!

  4. My daughter just went on a massive hike to a stunning waterfall - and lucky for her, it was a cloudy day. (not really all that lucky as it was an 8 hour tramp in the rain). Once again, great tips.

    1. Thank Rhonda. :) I hope we get to see the pics soon!

  5. Thanks for the tips. I have a waterfall in my back yard and struggle to take pretty pictures of it.

    Found you on Friday Flash Blog