Making Waterfall Images

For a long-time I’ve loved the experience of waterfalls.  I know that I’m not alone.  People go great distances to see them and they are sought after subjects for photography.  Typically we all want waterfall images that capture our experiences in these natural places.  This summer I committed to making high quality photographic images of waterfalls.  It seemed an important skill to learn as a developing landscape photographer.  When I lived in Connecticut I’d attempted to make memorable images of some great falls, like the Kent Falls, but the results were snap shot-like.  So I spent some time reading about photographic technics to capturing running water and then made the opportunities to start seriously making waterfall photographs.

First my family and I spent the 4th of July holiday weekend in Niagara Falls on the Canadian side.  I got up early before the rest of my family and went down to the Horseshoe Falls before the sun rose to photograph in the morning light.  My family also put up with me making photographs during the day as we got really close to the Falls on some the planned excursions.  I believe some of these images are worthy of displaying; you can find a few in my Art Portfolio and in the Waterfall Portfolio on this website.  For these Niagara images I typically used rather fast shutter speeds which I felt captured more of the power and excitement of these huge Falls.  From afar, especially in morning light, the scenes are captivating and beautiful, but up close they instructed me about how small I am relative to the power and timelessness of nature.

My waterfall experiences near home in Pennsylvania are quite different.  Here the Falls are smaller and often in the shadowed light of a forest.  These experiences are about taking in the damp, cool forest air and listening to the sound of the stream and falls as we watch the water dance down along and off the rocks.  High shutter speeds just don’t capture that inner experience.  You have to slow the shutter speed down to ¼ of a second and get close to the water to create on image that communicates this flow and dance.

Last weekend I took two hikes to Glen Onoko Falls, which is a series of small falls running down a gorge to the Lehigh River below, and to Hawk Falls, which is in the Hickory Run State Park.  It was a great afternoon of making photographs.  I had to be patient waiting for more private moments when fellow weekend hikers weren't in the scene.  That patience however paid off since it provided me with the time to experience and take in the scenes, rather than only quickly taking photographs that should be technically sound.  I believe a few of the resulting images really did capture that personal experience of peace and ease.  These images can also be found in the fore mentioned portfolios on this website.  I’m proud of these images as my own true artist expressions.

I plan to make more photographs of additional local and regional waterfalls as we progress through the summer and fall seasons this year.  I’ll continue to share the results of those experiences and efforts on this website, and I hope that you’ll enjoy them and comment.