[/caption] Another picture perfect setting in the Columbia River Gorge! This is just another waterfall in the Oregon gorge that you see when you hike near the same creek that thunders over Multnomah Falls. I set up my tripod on the trail and just made sure to leave enough room for other hikers to pass by without having to move. I made sure to use my bubble level and remote switch and turned off the OS on my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I wanted to get the most extreme ghosting effect since the water was traveling through slick basalt and the white water was pretty long. I set the shutter speed at 6 seconds and just made sure to attach my ND4 and CIR-PL.
[/caption] There are several necessary ingredients when photographing waterfalls or fast moving water: First, you need to find the perfect subject such as a waterfall or area along a creek or river that looks like a photogenic spot. You then need to be sure that the vegetation is at its peak. That means that there can’t be any of the vegetation that is still dormant, dead or brown. This means that you will probably need to wait until late Spring or early Summer. However, you also want to have the water level fairly high since a thundering waterfall is more photogenic than a trickle. Therefore, your best opportunity is to take your photos when the vegetation is at its absolute peak and the water level is high. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you want to go out on a overcast or even rainy day since A bright sun can prevent you from setting a long exposure as well as create too much glare. The photo that I posted is a perfect example. I included some of the overcast sky in order to show that you can set a longer exposure and still include some of the sky in the shot. I positioned myself at a spot where there was plenty of vegetation so I could enhance the effect that a succulent landscape provides. I was able to extend the shutter speed to 4 seconds without any glare, even though it was taken at 12:30pm in the middle of June. There are several things that you can do as well to ensure a good exposure. You want to set your histogram on your camera so you can play back each of your shots and ensure that it’s not over exposed or under exposed. I try to get the histogram in the middle of the grid. Since I always attach my ND filters when taking photos of moving water, I have an advantage of someone that isn’t using them. An ND filter is critical and you pretty much can’t take any descent photos of waterfalls without one. I normally attach my ND4, CIR PL and warming filter. However, I also have an ND8. I then adjust the ISO to 100 and then adjust the white balance. The correct white balance setting is critical and many people overlook the importance since taking long exposed photos during the middle of the day can ruin a good quality photo. Another very important thing to remember is to always use a tripod. I also attach my remote switch and bubble level since I don’t want to take any chances of jerking the camera when I take the shot. The bubble level ensures that it’s not crooked and I don’t trust using the power of thirds grid that’s available on your camera settings. I also never use manual mode since I’ve never had any problems with the automatic setting. I either set the camera in program/normal mode or shutter priority whenever I want to set the shutter speed. The shutter speed on this photo was set at 4 seconds and I’ve found out that any more than 4 seconds isn’t really necessary. You will still get the flowing motion of the waterfall over creek and eliminate the chances of ending up with water spray on your lens or blurry leaves in the photo. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 21mm in order to frame the waterfall with the vegetation surrounding the scene. The aperture was at F-13 and again I set the shutter speed at 4 seconds. As you can see, the vegetation is lush and green with no dormant plants and the waterfall is thundering over the cliff. Waterfalls can be one of the most frustrating subjects to photograph but they can also be the most exciting since the end result can really be spectacular. Another thing to remember is that photoshop is a great tool to use in order to saturate the vegetation but make sure that you don’t overdue it. Rely on your camera settings when your out in the field and only use photoshop to do some cropping and maybe add a little saturation. However, sometimes I will sharpen the photo if needed.
[/caption] I was finally able to pick the perfect day to visit Punchbowl falls. The day was overcast and there was a light sprinkle as I photographed the waterfall. The neon green vegetation was at its peak as I was able to gently wade out to the middle of the creek so I could get in to the best possible position as I photographed the waterfall. The creek wasn’t as full or nearly as cold from the last time I visited this same spot. I even made sure to bring my pair of Teva sandals so I could have an easier time navigating the rocks below as well as the swift current. This was by far one of the most epic times to visit the falls since there was no other hikers and I was able to move almost anywhere along the creek before setting up my tripod. With the water level still very high and the amount of water thundering over the falls you probably haven’t seen this much water going over Punch bowl falls in a while. The water was absolutely piercing as it raged over the falls. I was also surprised that I was able to pretty much set up my tripod anywhere along the creek without the fast moving water causing my tripod to move as I set the shutter priority to 4 seconds at a time. My 11 month old Australian Cattle dog puppy was having a good time chasing small sticks and drinking in the creek as I took photos. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my ND8, CIR-PL and my warming filter in order to get the correct blur effect without having too much overexposure. I had the camera mode in shutter priority so the aperture was set at F-11 since I also had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1. Since it was sprinkling the whole time I was forced to wipe my lens after every shot since I was setting the shutter priority at 4 seconds each time I took a photo. I took this particular photo at about 11:10am and the sun was pretty much non existent due to the cloudy skies. The waterfalls does create a strong glare in the foreground so you have to watch how you place your camera. I had the focal length at 28mm and I was standing about 50 yards from the waterfall.
[/caption] The waterfalls are spectacular at Silver Falls State Park, OR. I was surprised to get a photo of the south waterfall since it’s normally littered with hikers all along the trail between the falls. I ended up with a good window and decided to take as many photos as I could. I was lucky enough to choose a day to visit the park on a very overcast but fairly warm day. I was even surprised that I didnt’ see any other photographers the entire day. Normally you will see dozens of photographers on any late spring/early summer overcast day. The vegetation is absolutely blinding with its neon green colors which goes very well with the dark black basalt rock all along the waterfalls. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. This is pretty much my only lens that I use when photographing waterfalls since it takes unbelievable shots and I normally stand no more than a few yards from the base of the waterfalls or 100 yards when taking a panoramic shot. I made sure to attach my ND8, CIR-PL and warming filter as well as use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I had the camera mode in shutter priority and set the shutter at 4 seconds and the aperture was at F-16. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3 due to the glare from the sun which was just overhead. I had the focal length at 19mm and stood just above the falls in order to frame the vegetation around the waterfall as well as create the most dynamic panoramic photo as I could.
[/caption] The Oneonta trail offers some spectacular views of 4 waterfalls along with several places to rest along the creek to take photos. Now that the creeks are at their full potential you can really get some terrific photos of the water thundering over the waterfalls or the creek. There are endless amounts of photography opportunities on this particular trail. I took this shot on 5/14/11 at about 2:10pm and since it was on a busy Saturday I was limited on the amount of places that I could take photos without having people in them. Therefore, I decided to really concentrate on taking photos along the creeks banks well above the waterfalls. I’ve been coming to some of these same spots for years but this spring has been especially dynamic due to the amount of water spilling out from the Cascades. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and made sure to attach my ND8, CIR-PL and warming filter so I could set the shutter priority to 8 seconds. I really wanted to blur the water as much as possible without having too much exposure since the focal length was at 17mm. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I had to wait for the sun to hide behind some clouds since the sun was directly above me. The aperture was at F-22 since I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at 0-.7. With Oneonta trail providing 4 amazing waterfalls along with awesome creek views this is surely a hike worth exploring.
[/caption] Silver Falls State Park or also known as Silver Creek Falls State Park is Oregon’s largest State Park. As far as I’m concerned it should be designated a National Park. I took this photo on 5/7/10 and you can read my extensive article about the Park which I posted on 5/10/10. There are so many awesome waterfalls which are all accessible from the trail head that you could easily spend the entire day photographing them. Normally I will go back to some of the same waterfalls as the sun and shade moves about throughout the day. This is especially true if you are a serious waterfall photographer. This photo was taken around 8:30 am just as the sun was beginning to rise above the forest directly behind the falls. I wanted to have some light in the photo but without washing out the waterfall. However, I was only able to set the shutter priority to .8 seconds due to the intensity of the light. As you can see there was almost no movement showing in the foliage. Normally it can be pretty windy near the falls and the trail head due to the intense force created by the water thundering over the falls. The noise pierces your ears as the water crashes on the massive basalt rocks below. It literally sounds like a constant chain reaction of cars crashing into one another. I tried to keep the glare down as much as possible so I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -2. I also used my ND4 filter as well as my warming filter. You could never get this type of shot without either using an ND filter or at least a CIR-PL. I find that using an ND filter when photographing waterfalls is usually the best choice. I was also using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. These are also a necessity when photographing waterfalls since you will want to get the blur effect while using your shutter mode. I find that the best time to visit Silver Falls State Park is during Spring and Early Fall. I would also recommend visiting during a weekday since the weekends can get pretty busy. This is especially true if you are wanting to get some photos without people in your waterfall shots as well as having the opportunity to set up your tripod without other hikers having to walk around you.