Important, Overlooked Items For Waterfall Photography

Yesterday, I headed to Southern Tennessee to do some waterfall photography.  The places I went I had visited several times in the past, but these are also places that could never get old.

When I left the house it was steadily sprinkling rain and had been for several hours.  Perfect weather!  When I got out to start photographing, of course the rain got heavier.  However, I was prepared.

Aside from all of the critically important things, like a solid tripod and circular polarizing filter, there are several things that often get overlooked that can make you leave happier.  First, a lens cloth.  I took several yesterday, and needed them all.  Even if it isn't raining steadily, a lens cloth can be used to wipe water spots off the front of your filter.  I tend to create wide angle compositions and put my lens really close to a cascade.  I place this cascade in the foreground to anchor the image.  Even it is isn't raining, splash from the cascade finds it's way onto the front of my filter.  The lens cloth saves the day!  There isn't much worse than getting home and finding blobs all over your image.  Another important item is a shower cap.  Although keeping my hair looking stellar is of utmost importance, I am using the shower cap to keep my camera and lens dry.  It is cheap, and works remarkably well.  I have a weather sealed camera body and lens, but I still throw the shower cap on as added protection.  It's not a bad idea to have one even if it isn't raining, too.  It can keep those splashes off of the camera.  A good item to keep in the camera bag is a terry cloth.  Typically if I am putting my camera in the bag and it is even a little wet, I will wrap it in the terry cloth and let the cloth absorb any moisture.  I never "wipe" the camera.  This could force moisture into tiny cracks and crevasses.  The best method is the dab the areas, or just wrap it up and let the cloth do the work.  Silica Gel is another item I keep in the camera bag.  You know those little packets you get in packages that come with the "do not eat" warning.  Those are designed to absorb moisture.  They can be purchased cheap online, or you can just save them from any packages you receive.  I typically keep a few pouches in my camera bag at all times, but I especially make sure I have them in there if I am going to be shooting near water.  A few last things to consider are bath towels and a change of clothes.  These items can save you from a long, soaked, cold ride home.  

Here is one of the images I made yesterday at Short Springs Natural Area in Tullahoma, TN.  This is such a great area to visit if you are nearby and love photographing water.  

Aperture-priority, 6 sec, f/16, ISO 100

This image was made using my Canon 5D IV, Tamron 24-70 G2 Lens, Sirui Circular Polarizer and Sirui W-2204 Tripod.

Mountain Cascade

This is an image of a small cascade that flows upstream of Machine Falls.  On an overcast day you could easily spend the whole day photographing the falls and cascades that are all within walking distance in this area.  Maybe someone should do a workshop in this area...hmmm.

ISO 100, 24mm, F/16, 0.8 seconds

ISO 100, 24mm, F/16, 0.8 seconds

I love this little area of the stream because not only does it form a nice cascade here, but the contrast of the moss covered rocks along the banks are very nice, also.

This is another image I made with my Sony A7R, Metabones Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  I also used my Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT tripod.  The tripod was very important here because me and my tripod are in the water.  The water was flowing with quite a bit of force, too.  The Vanguard Tripod handled the force of the water without an issue and I was able to come away with a tack sharp image.

Machine Falls

This is one of my favorite waterfalls to photograph!  I used to go here quite often, but we've moved a little further away now, so I don't get there as much as I used to.

Yesterday it was overcast and rainy all day.  Most people don't get too excited when its sprinkling or gray outside, but I am not most people!  I get fired up because I got to sleep until 8 and I still get to get out and make images of waterfalls in fantastic light!

This weather...overcast, grey, meh and rainy are the best time to shoot flowing water.  Because there isn't as much light, it allows you to maintain a slower shutter speed, which gives you that milky water effect.

This one was taken with my Sony A7R, Metabones Lens Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  I also used a circular polarizer to kill reflections and had everything mounted on my Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT Tripod.

ISO 100, 24mm, F/16, 4 seconds

ISO 100, 24mm, F/16, 4 seconds