The Photo Cascadia Team explores areas of natural beauty and advances the photographic excellence of outdoor photography while promoting and sharing images, knowledge, and expertise with photo enthusiasts. This blog contains articles about landscape photography.
“Lighthouses are endlessly suggestive signifiers of both human isolation and our ultimate connectedness to each other.” – Virginia Woolf
I love photographing lighthouses; they can be so majestic, mysterious, beautiful, and yes even foreboding. We have quite a few along the Pacific west coast where I live, but I’ve photographed them all over the world. As with any subject, it’s not the thing (the lighthouse) I photograph, but it’s the light around it which enhances the subject. I also prefer to photograph lighthouses either at the golden hour or in the soft light of pre-dawn or dusk, so for me a tripod is essential.
I don’t go too wide when photographing my lighthouses. I often use a 24-70mm lens to capture a foreground, but not wide enough to make the sides of the lighthouse go wonky. You can straighten things up a bit in post-processing, but it never seems to look right.
Also, I try to tell a story when photographing a lighthouse. I might include a passing ship, or I photograph on a stormy day to convey to the viewer why that lighthouse exists in the first place. Sometimes I might use a telephoto lens to capture my lighthouse in front of a setting moon to suggest the story of the tides. I might also use the lighthouse as a small counterpoint in the image, to give a sense of its remoteness. Use your imagination; there are plenty of lighthouse stories to tell with an image.
As with many landscape images, when photographing lighthouses use a foreground. Some interesting colored stones, fence lines, dune grass, pools reflecting the lighthouse, or jaggedly formed rocks all make great foreground subjects. Take your time and look for what works best with your subject.
Use a leading line. This not only enhances your foreground, but it gives the image more dimension. Coastal shorelines are the most obvious choice. Other suggestions for leading lines might be the reflected light of the setting sun or moon on the ocean, footprints in the sand, breaking waves, or the fence line around the lighthouse.
If the lantern is still functioning at the lighthouse, try to capture the catch-light. As with wildlife photography and capturing that glint in the animal’s eye to give it life, the same is true for a lighthouse. Wait for that light and make sure you capture the glint in the lighthouse’s “eye.”
Change your perspective. Get high above the lighthouse if you can, and shoot down or walk to the base of the lighthouse and shoot up for a different look. Sometimes a piece of the lighthouse can be more interesting than the whole. It might be some old paint, a rusty slab of metal, a cool window, a handrail, the spiral staircase to the lantern, or a detail image of the lantern itself; whatever it is take your time to explore and find that interesting piece.
I hope these handful of tips help you the next time you head out to your favorite lighthouse, whether it be a stormy weekend or during a sunny vacation.
What Are The Northern Lights And Why Do They Happen
* The most important thing when trying to protect Aurora is look at the KP index on a scale from 1 to 9 in terms of geomagnetic strength
* Aurora Service Or Aurora App that have Aurora alerts.. www.aurora-service.org. Also check sites for weather like yr.no to see weather
* Northern Lights caused my plasma reaching the earth from the sun. So when see activity on the sun by way of charged particles reach the earth three days after the splash of activity on the sun. This is how scientists predict Northern lights. This is why we see three day forecast when it comes to the northern lights
* So when the charge particles bombard the atmosphere with magnetic activity we see the lights at 69 or 70 degrees
* The three important concepts when looking at northern lights are the solar activity, solar wind, and the earths magnetic fieldid
When and Where To Go
* Best times to go are from November-March
We seem them in polar latitudes around 69 or 68
* Lofoten Islands, Northern Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and of course Alaska
* Generally equally probability of seeing the lights in the months of Jan Feb and March
* Have to be very patient as many of these places can have many days of storms before northern lights
Settings On Camera And Composition And Planning
* What are the most important things when photographing Northern lights it’s to know your camera and settings for the situation
* Because it’s very exciting when seen the Northern lights for the first time it’s very common and normal to get overexcited. So the goal is to be able to still resort to your settings and focus on some of the key points I will be discussing
* Appear to the north of you and above you
* Sometimes they become so strong that they do appear in some southern latitudes.
* So when looking for composition focus on the north
* Most people forget composition when they first see the lights so try to include foreground, midground, and background.
* Don’t just focus on the sky. Try to give it some context. Tell a story with your images.
* Be careful of what’s called false exposure as your eyes get used to the dark and you start to adjust your exposure based on your LCD. The images look perfectly exposed in the dark but later when we process they are too dark
* Always check your histogram and make sure you have information to the right of the camera – this is very important
* Try flashlight to expose foreground if you are by yourself
* Highlight with flashlight from side if you want to light paint. This achieves some depth and shadows.
* When moon is full the landscape is nice but much harder to get detail in the lights
* Best situation is 20-30% moon so you get a bit of light on the landscape but you can still get details in the lights and also get stars in the image
* Try including a person in the image as it gets perspective and mood. Also it helps if the viewer imagine they are in this scene watching the lights. It helps if they are looking at the lights and have a headlamp on. This really helps people connect with he image
* Add another dimension by looking for reflections or water such as a river and creeks. Make sure to get a low angle to include the lights and color in reflection
* Panos- can be achieved but there has to be very little movement in the lights
* Pano Verticals work well so you can get all of the lights and a strong foreground. This is a great way to have one exposure for the foreground and another for the sky.
* Make sure to look for patterns and textures in the foreground. For example I will look for ripples in the snow that lead towards the lights. If I am photographing a subject in the foreground I will use its shape to be pointing towards the lights
* Examples: pointy subjects like rocks
* Look for shapes that mimic the northern lights
A good camera with a sensor that is higher quality that offers a good dynamic range is always a great start when photographing lights.
Some of the best cameras for photographing Northern lights are Nikon D850/800 Series and the Sony A7 Series. The Canon does a great job as well.
This really helps with photographing and high ISO’s
Having a wide-angle lens with at least 2.8 is going to be great.
F/4 makes shooting lights very difficult as the shutter speeds needed to achieve the same exposure as a 2.8 is too long
There is a huge difference between receiving light between f/4 and 2.8
Biggest problem with shooting northern lights is focus:
It’s important to always review your images after by zooming in on the stars and checking for shortness as well as important subjects included in the image
How to Focus In The Dark
Focus in Live View And enlarge area that has stars And move focus ring to make the star a perfect dot
Infinity is not really infinity but optical infinity so for most camera lens the infinity is a smigen off the cameras infinity mark
Remember exact position of focus on focusing ring
Try taping the lens on the point of focus so the lens doesn’t move
Settings on Camera
Settings for your camera will always be based on the intensity of the lights as well as movement. Generally if the lights are moving quick and strong I try to keep my exposures under 10 seconds. If they are very faint on a moonless night I’ll be closer to 30 seconds. I will describe if you a few different scenes and the settings I use
Moonless Night and Lights Are Low
ISO 2000 – ISO 3200
If lights are intense good for landscape
(If including a separate exposure for foreground)
Strong Northern Lights and Moving Fast
ISO 1600- ISO 2500
Processing in Camera Raw/Lightroom and Photoshop
* Shift the color temperature and tint to the cooler temperatures so more blues and green
* It reflects the mood and story you are trying to convey with your images
* Add more exposure
* Use orange HSL to reduce light pollution. You only want green blue and white tones
* Decrease Saturation a tiny bit
* Add clarity and contrast for sky and lights with a grad
* Decrease highlights where areas might get blown out
* Take lights on the outside and increase them by increasing clarity and exposure slightly
* Curves raise the darks a smigen and make a s-curve
* Take the hand in Hue/Saturation on the light pollution and decrease the saturation of oranges and reds – must do on later so you don’t take it out of the lights
* Hue/Saturation – decrease vibrancy and saturation In snow and trees. Also on the outside of the image
* Color Balance – Shift towards the blues
* Add a curves to the northern lights to add more clarity and contrast only in the lights with radial filter
* Bring highlights in the strongest areas of the lights.. can use luminosity masks
* Make color overlay to make atmospheric mist – select a neutral color from horizon at 13% and a mirror gradient in Normal blending mode
* This is tonal perspective very important to depth in landscape photography
* Make another copy in overlay mode and increase opacity to 50%
* Orton glow and sharpening in foreground by texture increase by way of high-pass filter
* Be very careful at 3.0 with noisy images
* Only does this to the foreground and the lights and peaks
I took a very nice trip to the Tetons over the holidays and would like to share one of my favorites from the trip and the story behind it.
Grand Teton National Park is surprisingly accessible during the winter. The main road that runs through the park is open all the way up to the end of Jackson Lake, close to an hour’s drive from the town of Jackson. The image above was shot at the edge of Jackson Lake, well into the park. Needless to say, I was the only one around during this sunset shoot. I was very happy with the particular conditions this evening. It was very cold, around 10 degrees Fahrenheit or so, but the lake hadn’t frozen over yet. In previous winter visits to the park, the lake had always been frozen solid, making foregrounds a bit hard to come by. I was also happy with the light, of course. For this image, I was up very close to the edge of the ice forming on the shoreline, getting sprayed by icy lake water. My tripod was gathering icicles and the spray would hit my lens and freeze immediately. Here is a little trick that works very will in these conditions to combat this problem. Fill a tiny spray bottle with as close to 100% isopropyl alcohol as you can find, not the 70% stuff. Spray the lens and the ice comes right off. This also works well to combat sea spray. I was shooting this image with my Canon 11-24mm F/4 L ultra-wide angle lens and a gigantic polarizer attached to the front, so it definitely was a water magnet and the spray worked very well. I had to spray and wipe in between almost every shot but I was able to come away with enough clean ones to get the image that I wanted. Another thing I did during this trip that helped a lot was keep my gear in my car to acclimate to the extreme cold and cut down on any haze or fog. I have learned the hard way that taking gear out of a warm room and heading straight into sub zero temps will fog up the lens and filter and ruin every single shot. The above image is a blend for dynamic range, mostly in the bright parts of the sky using luminosity masks. I dialed in a shutter speed of 1/4 second for the foreground exposures, quick enough to capture some detail in the waves. My lens was set at 14mm, and I was using f/16, an aperture small enough to catch everything sharp in the scene from front to back. I wasn’t as close as I could get to the ice on the edge of the lake because the spray would have been too intense. Also, I only had one chance to set up because within a minute my tripod was frozen solid and wouldn’t be moveable again until a warm up in the car. Even though it was bitterly cold with a wind chill below zero, this was one of the most fun and unique experiences I have had doing winter photography.
I recently decided to start producing more video content for my YouTube channel. This is an experiment to see where it goes. I’ve always enjoyed making videos, just as I’ve always enjoyed photography. Both were a medium to share my thoughts, experiences and creativity, but in very different ways. I love photography, because it’s a moment frozen in time. A moment you can explore at any time for any amount of time, there is something very powerful about that. Video lets me share my thoughts and experiences in a more personal way. It also can be a more immersive experience. I’ve launched a couple of video series so far, and I have more ideas to share as well.
Advanced Post Processing Workflow Series:
I have 2 episodes available already for my Advanced Post Processing Workflow Series, with more on the way soon. My goal for this series is to illustrate the tools and techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop that make up my basic workflow as well as some of my thought process during post processing. I’ll start with a single RAW file and show how it gets transformed into a final master file. I’ll also show the steps I take to prepare the master file to share on different mediums.
Advanced Post Processing Workflow Tutorial Part 1 - YouTube
Advanced Post Processing Workflow Tutorial Episode 2 - YouTube
Adventure Vlog Series:
My goal for this series is to bring people along on some of my adventures, and eventually share photography tips and the artistic process. This is pretty challenging to do on my own, but I’m sure with practice I’ll be able to realize this goal as well.
Vlog 001 Todd Lake Winter Photo Adventure - YouTube
I also plan to record some gear review videos. I’ll share some of my favorite gadgets, and gear and why I like them, or ways I think they could be improved. I plan to review my Nikon D850, some lenses, and some other fun gear like drones, gimbals, filters, and several others.
I have a many other ideas as well, including some collaborations with fellow Photo Cascadia members. Video production is very time consuming and challenging. For now, it’s inspiring having a new challenge. If people enjoy it and the channel grows, I’ll continue producing new videos. I encourage you to check out my channel, and if you like the videos, remember to like, subscribe and share them with others who might like them as well. You can keep up with all my latest video uploads here: https://www.youtube.com/user/zschnepf77
I am writing from a mountain lodge in the Italian Dolomites on a trip with Photo Cascadia teammate, Erin Babnik, so this article will be short and sweet. We spent a couple days before our winter workshop photographing at the end of a small valley with dramatic peaks all around. Our experience there reminded me of two things that are true about landscape photography that are well known but often difficult to remember and practice. First is that landscape photography is as much about the weather and the light as it is about the landscape. Second is that the weather and light is always changing. Every time weather and light change, they in turn change the landscape and our opportunities to see and tell visual stories about that landscape…as long as we are willing to be patient and keep coming back to the scene to see what it is offering us.
All the images below were taken with my phone except the last one, which is a raw file from my camera transferred to my phone. Record shots taken with my phone help me document and track the changes and help me visualize the potential for the images I took with my SLR that I will develop when I get home.
We arrived at the tail end of a winter storm that had coated the trees and peaks in a glorious blanket of new snow. On our first sunrise foray the remnants of the storm were still clinging to the peaks and the scene was moody and dark. Even though we couldn’t see the tops of the peaks there was enough to indicate their looming presence in the clouds above. In the moment it was easy to become disheartened that we didn’t get the dramatic sunrise light we pre-visualized. But looking back at this image I realize that the scene has a lot of character and mystery.
Later that day I noticed the clouds were beginning to lift. I shouldered my pack and headed back up into the hills. On this visit the mountain was playing with me. Intermittently it would reveal itself to me before the clouds would swirl in and hide it again. And it always stayed in the shadows, while the foreground came to life, brilliant in the full light of the sun.
At sunset we ventured out once again, this time to a higher vantage point right at the base of the peaks. The peaks were in full view but still capped by atmospheric plumes streaming from their summits. Although the sun was setting behind the mountains, the clouds captured the golden light and reflected it down, illuminating the cliff faces and snowy landscape in front of me.
The next morning we came back at sunrise a final time. Now the clouds had moved above the peaks and were soft and broken in the calm after the storm. Sunrise light lit their undersides and danced across the faces of the peaks, casting a warm glow across the winter scene.
I loved witnessing the changes and moods of this beautiful landscape over a the 24 hour period that I spent photographing it. It was also a good reminder of what I learned as a photographer long ago, but often lose site of in the rush of life…that it is often the weather and light that make a place special and wonderful visual experiences can unfold if we are willing to be patient and spend some quality time just watching and noticing.
It feels like during any given season we as nature photographers spend time chasing after the elements that first and foremost speak to the season. I would say this certainly applies to trees as well. When someone says fall, we think of trees with colors of a vibrant the sunset. When someone says spring we think of lush glowing greens. When someone says summer we think of them being full to help balance out the scene whatever color that may be. Of course that is some of the list as there other elements that come to the front of our mind for specific seasons whether it’s related to trees or not.
Fog Shrouded Forest – This scene if was all or mostly evergreen trees would be nice yet to me not nearly the same. The many details on the branches in the dense fog is what makes this scene for me.
I can say when it comes to deciduous trees in my early days of photography I always wanted trees to be filled with something, Whether it was green in spring, yellow in fall, or anything else in between because it made sense that would be more photogenic than a bunch of naked trunks and branches. Come on trees, get some clothes on for this photo shoot!
After a number of years photographing I realize now that I am drawn to trees with their stark beauty as much, and sometimes more, than than when they have their coats on from spring to fall. I am specifically talking about scenes without snow because in locations with multiple seasons we naturally think of winter and snow. The intent here is to illustrate there is much more in winter than a cold snowy scene of trees, even though I will admit I sucker for a great photo of snow covered trees.
Here are some reasons why you might think about photographing these more in the “off season” if you don’t already.
Different Focus – When the trees are bare of leaves you can no longer rely on the colors of the leaves that may add to the overall compelling scene. Instead I feel like you have increased focus on composition and other elements that might normally be side dishes to the overall show.
Hidden Details – With the leaves gone for the season you can see the details underneath that are normally hidden from view. I have some photos where the detail from many thin stark branches is what makes the photo.
Contrasting Elements – When you have evergreen and deciduous trees together they can sometimes lack contrast depending on the season. When it’s winter time there is no question. It can provide much needed contrast to specific photos.
Here are some of my favorites over the years.
Here are some more of my favorites over the years falling under this theme.
Wetland Layers – In The Grand Tetons before leaves started budding I caught this scene of yellow and orange branches from the ground bushes against the empty trees in the back.
Stark and Slender – Trees from a fire decades ago still stand mostly barren while the undergrowth is growing. In spring this glows green (see the contrast here). Yet this stark muted scene stood out to me. As an aside this is likely the type of scenes will start to photograph in the Columbia River Gorge or other locations that have been damaged by wildfires.
Final Flames of Fall – To me this single tree with fall foliage stands out because of all the other stark and colorless trees around it.
Organizing Chaos – The sunset and ground bare ground foliage glows in the sunset light.
Around The Corner – Many smaller trees and bushes bare during winter are reaching up like arms to the light above.
Exposed – With this winter scene there is more more emphasis on the beautiful water and colorful mossy greens along with what is behind this small forest of trees. Something hidden most months of the year.
Outcast – This lone aspen in Grant Teton National park stands out in stark contrast from the giant evergreens surrounding it.
Pure Elowah – If you photograph this scene outside of late fall to very early spring you will have leaves on the trees blocking the view of the waterfall. Another case where a leaf-less tree is in your favor.
“In photography, as everywhere, there are those who know how to see and others who don’t even know how to look . . .” – Felix Nadar
Part artist and part PT Barnum, Felix Nadar was one of history’s early famous photographers. Born in 1820, he photographed everybody who was anybody in Paris at the time: Manet, Hugo, Baudelaire, Dumas. These photographic portraits were his art, but he was also a bungling balloonist, the first aerial photographer, the first to deliver airmail, a cartoonist, a writer, and a poster boy for the description of a “bohemian.” In The Great Nadar: The Man Behind the Camera (2017 Tim Duggan Books), author Adam Begley captures in just under 200 pages the photographer’s energy, eccentricities, and the spirit of his life.
Nadar took his first look through the lens of a camera in 1848—and he was hooked. That year there were only 13 professional photographers in Paris, and by 1868 there were 350. Photography’s first boom was termed “photomania.” The author writes: “They engaged in mysterious hocus-pocus and sometimes peddled shoddy, blurred images for which they overcharged,” so things haven’t changed much in the past 150 years. Nadar was ahead of the game. Having been a portrait artist for numerous newspapers, photography came easily to him. He also had a wealth of contacts, and he knew the celebrity culture. More importantly, he was a wonderful photographer.
Supported by his wife, Nadar sprinted into his new profession—not always with complete success. A lack of business acumen kept Nadar continually in debt, so he constantly chased the “next big thing.” (After photography, that thing was ballooning.)
In the book’s later chapters author Begley truly captures the adventurous spirit of Nadar. He took his debt, impulsiveness, and devil-may-care attitude right into the field of ballooning. Important advances were being made in the area of flight at that time, and ballooning was an exciting new novelty. Nadar didn’t have the money for this new sport, but that wasn’t about to stop him. He would take friends and family out for balloon adventures, even though he didn’t have the landing part down quite yet. If guests ended up bloody or with broken limbs then so be it.
Attempting to marry his two passions, Nadar began to experiment with aerial photography, using his big box camera and learning through trial and error. Later when the Bavarian armies besieged Paris, this photographer hero would fly over them and report back troop movements; or fly away and deliver intelligence reports and mail via the air.
If only every photographer’s life could be as interesting and exciting as that of Felix Nadar. He was part Evil Knievel and part Andy Warhol, but he is mostly remembered through his fantastic photography. Exhibitions of his work have been held in recent years at the Musée d’Orsayin Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (The book includes numerous images, drawings, and more.)
I highly recommend this book about Nadar, as an addition to your photographic library, and as an intriguing read into life of one of photography’s true pioneering heroes.
As we do most years the Photo Cascadia Team will take a few week break from the blog for the holidays and downtime. We will be posting again in mid-January. In the meantime we put together a short slideshow with some of our personal favorites from the year along with behind the scenes shots of our adventures.
Our most sincere thank you to all of our viewers, clients, friends and family. We are only able to continue to do what we do as a team because of all of you. If we didn’t have viewers we would be creating site content only for ourselves which isn’t even close to as exciting as creating it for all of you. If we didn’t have clients none of us would have a business. If we didn’t have friends we would be missing the elements of fun, collaboration and sense of community. If we didn’t have family and the support from them it would make what we do less rewarding and no one to share our sucessess with. There is much to be thankful as another year draws to a close.
There is the quote “once a year go someplace you’ve never been before”- Dalai Lama. In an age where nature photography has changed significantly the last 5 years. We can all benefit from trying to get off the beaten path now and then. By this I mean it both figuratively and literally. Figuratively to look for new and different images in well known areas and literally looking to visit the roads and trails less traveled. With this in mind may the new year bring all that you look forward to and more with and without a camera in hand.
Images from Niagara Falls from the Canadian Side in Ontario Canada
It is essential to use a sturdy tripod when photographing waterfalls. Because of the longer exposure and possible water movement around the base of the tripod, it’s important to have a tripod that’s sturdy and heavy enough to stay firm. In the past, longer exposures where I had my tripod base in the water, I noticed camera shake and loss of detail in the background.
Images from Ricketts Glen State Park in Benton Pennsylvania
A circular polarizer will be very beneficial in most cases when photographing waterfalls to reduce glare. Not only will the glare be reduced from the water’s surface, but you will get an increase color saturation. I use a Singh-Ray LB Color Combo which has the option for a color intensifier. When you combine this polarizer with its color intensifier it can replicate stunning vibrant colors that pop in the image. I use this polarizer for a majority of my images when trying to reduce glare and boost the colors on the image. Another bonus of the polarizer is that it adds approximately an extra stop and half for longer exposures. This can be very handy when you don’t have a Neutral Density Filter. A Neutral Density Filter (ND Filter ) is a filter that reduces the intensity of all wavelengths or colors of light equally. In layman terms, it lets less light into your camera and thus a longer exposure which a lot of photographers use to get that dreamy look in the water. I really enjoy shooting waterfalls during the day when I can throw on a 5 or 10 stop ND filter to get a longer exposure during times when it would normally be too strong to photograph waterfalls. A word of caution is to avoid the temptation to go with super long exposures when capturing waterfalls. You really want to capture texture and patterns in the water; when you expose for too long the water takes on a milky approach and loses the details. This is especially important for waterfalls and cascades in the immediate foreground.
Images from Ricketts Glen State Park in Benton Pennsylvania
Make sure to try a variety of different lenses when composing your shot. Many of the images that have worked for me have been with the ultra-wide a lens so that I can include foreground elements as well as the waterfalls. Every photographer is different, and thus composes images in a different way. For me, I always try to add leading lines or elements in the foreground that balance the composition with the waterfall. But this doesn’t mean, I don’t try a variety of different compositions with different lenses. Having as many images and different compositions make it easier for me to choose something I like when I post process.
Images from Ricketts Glen State Park in Benton Pennsylvania
If your camera will allow, bracket your images so that you capture a wide variety of different looks and moods with water movement and patterns. Typically, I focus on trying to get the water exposure to be around half a second. One of the main things I try to avoid when photographing water movement is overexposure of the water. I like my histogram to be on the slight underexposed side so that I can see detail in the water. It’s nice to create a softer mood with a longer exposure, but make sure you watch your histogram so that you don’t blow out the water and more specifically the highlights on your histogram.
In many situations, waterfalls are located within high contrast scenes like forests and parks. Be aware of the scene and how much difference there is between the waterfall and its surroundings. To be more specific, I often have to expose separately for the water and then take another image for the surroundings. This is because of the high contrast between the elements within the image. In terms of exposing correctly you need to take separate exposures for each element. Sometimes I’ve had to take one exposure image for the water, another for its surroundings, and another one for the sky.
Images from Letchworth State Park in Upstate New York in the Wyoming Counties of New York
For most situations when photographing waterfalls, I like to use an aperture around F 13 or F-16 to capture sharpness from front to back in the image. Setting my camera at F-16 and choosing a shutter speed of half a second, I then let my camera tell me the ISO needed to achieve the appropriate exposure. My aperture is F/16 and I’m always trying to achieve between ¼ sec and a couple of seconds at the most. Thus the only variable that changes is the ISO when photographing the water specifically.
7. Be aware of the light in the scene and that you use to add to the image rather than distract. Because sunlight can make or break composition, it’s important to use light in a way that showcases your subject rather than compete with it. I like to place strong light in the top corners.
Images from around Leavenworth in Central Washington
Look to capture interesting patterns in the water that provide interesting shapes and details. The best are when you can find leaves flowing through the water that provide leading lines to your subject. Also, look for rocks or objects in the water that point toward the waterfall subject you are shooting.
Images from Watkins Glen State Park outside the village of Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York
Don’t be afraid to get creative and try different things. One of my favorite things to do when composing images with waterfalls is to find angles to shoot where it would be unrecognizable or uncommon. Most of the images that are photographed from waterfalls are from one viewpoint. I encourage you to break the mold and find different places to photograph. Challenge yourself to shoot it in ways that very few photographers have thought of. In the beginning, it can be very tough and frustrating but with time and patience you develop a style that is your own.
Images from Letchworth State Park in Upstate New York in the Wyoming Counties of New York
Try to tell a story with your images. Whenever I teach a workshop, I ask the participants to figure out what’s most important to convey in this particular waterfall before shooting. Figure out what is most important about the waterfalls that you would like to convey through your photography. For example, it could be the size of the waterfall, the shape and color of the waterfall, or just the unique patterns in the water. Whatever that one thing is,..