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Photographing waterfalls can be a tricky endeavor – especially when shooting in conditions where the light can change drastically depending upon the weather conditions. If you've ever struggled to get the waterfall shot you envisioned, you've come to the right place. This article will cover everything from basic tips to more advanced techniques to make shooting waterfalls a breeze.Choose the Right Gear for the Job
The most important piece of gear that you will need beyond a camera and lens is a sturdy tripod. This is an absolute must when shooting longer exposures. Here's a list of a few more important pieces of gear that will come in handy in the field:
- Tripod: Any time you're shooting long exposures a tripod is a must
- Selection of lenses: I generally try to cover a focal range of 16mm to 300mm to give myself a number of options in the field
- ND filter: I typically don't use ND filters as I generally shoot fairly short exposures, but they can come in handy depending upon the lighting conditions and the type of water texture you hope to achieve
- CPL: I always use a circular polarizer when shooting waterfalls as it can really help give the vegetation more 'pop' – the above image is an example of where a CPL can make big difference in terms of how the foliage appears in your photo and it can also help enhance the appearance of wet rocks and reflections in the water
- Remote Shutter Release: This isn't a necessity but it certainly can make shooting waterfalls a bit easier
- Rocket Air Blaster and Lens Cleaning Cloths: Let's face it; you're going to get wet. Using these two products, plus a waterproof housing (or zip lock baggies) can help to keep your lens and camera dry while shooting
- Bag of Rice: You never know when disaster may strike, so I always bring a large bag or canister of rice with me in the event that my camera decides to take a dip
If you've ever tried to shoot a waterfall in direct sunlight then you'll know how difficult it can be. Shooting with an ND filter can help to resolve some of these issues but shooting in diffused light is the best solution to the problem. When planning a waterfall shooting trip I always take a look at the weather forecast and check sunrise/sunset times before heading out to a location.
In general, I've found that shooting during the hours just after sunrise offers the best results as morning light can provide some impressive shooting conditions. The image you see here was shot about 3 hours after sunrise at Metlako Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, OR.Choose the Shutter Speed
It seems like it was only a few years ago that using extremely slow shutter speeds while shooting waterfalls was all the rage, but lately I find myself using shorter shutter speeds to really capture the texture in the water. The rate at which the water is falling dictates how quick or slow of a shutter speed you will need to use when shooting in lower light conditions. To give you an idea, the above image (Panther Creek Falls, WA) was shot at a shutter speed of 1/4 second to freeze the water and capture some of the texture as it cascaded down the rock face.
Choosing a longer shutter speed will soften up the water a great deal and in some cases that's just what the scene calls for. It really all comes down to personal taste. Experiment with the shutter speed while you're out in the field – the more options you have the better!Save the Foliage
If you've ever shot a waterfall on a breezy day you know that it's nearly impossible to utilize slower shutter speeds while simultaneously 'freezing' the foliage in the frame. You almost always see motion blur in the vegetation surrounding the waterfall.
To solve this problem I always take at least two exposures: one for the waterfall at your favorite shutter speed to obtain the right amount of water texture, and an additional exposure taken at a much faster shutter speed to freeze the foliage in place. In the above example I blended two exposures together to get sharp foliage along with the amount of water movement I was trying to achieve with the longer exposure.Choose Your Composition Carefully
Choosing a strong composition can be challenging when shooting waterfalls. Here are a few of the key guidelines that I follow when shooting images like the one you see above:
- Find a leading line or an 'S' to work with in your composition
- Let the water flow guide you to the focal point
- Shoot downstream of the waterfall to add depth
- Utilize rocks and other elements in the scene to guide your eye to the focal point
- Don't be afraid to try out several variations – I always shoot at least 3 or 4 compositions at any given location
One of my favorite things to do while shooting waterfalls is to think outside of the box in regards to composition. Taking an abstract approach to shooting a waterfall can lead to some really fun results. Use different focal lengths and experiment with tighter compositions that may only show a small portion of the waterfall.
I always try to shoot at least a handful of abstract shots while I'm in the field because let's face it: it's just plain fun to get the creative juices flowing!Adjust Your Exposure
Getting the exposure right can be a tricky business when shooting waterfalls. When using longer shutter speeds it's very important to constantly meter your exposure to make sure that you aren't losing detail in the water by clipping your highlights. Check the histogram to make sure that you are staying to the left or dead center in your exposure. As the light changes you will have to do this quite often so definitely keep an eye on it!Provide a Sense of Scale
Waterfalls come in all shapes and sizes, but it's often difficult to provide a sense of scale while shooting them. Adding a human element to your photo can really bring a whole new sense of wonder and scale to your image. Special thanks to Max Foster for snapping this photo of me at Spirit Falls, WA.
A team of researchers from Princeton University and Adobe Research have detailed a new project in which they use a 3D computer model of a head and a virtual 'full perspective' camera to manipulate the perspective of a single portrait. The manipulations simulate various shooting distances and the warps typically seen at those depths, potentially allowing software adjustments that create selfies with corrected perspective distortion.
A demo system (currently in beta) on lead researcher Ohad Fried's website allows you to upload your own images to explore the technology.
The front-facing lenses found in smartphones cameras are often wide-angle, fixed focal length, to make them as flexible as possible, but the close-up nature of selfies tends to show distortions such as large noses or sloping foreheads. Interestingly, these distortions can change how the individuals are perceived; the subjects in portraits taken at close distances are often described in ways that include ‘approachable’ and ‘peaceful’ while subjects in portraits taken at longer distances are more often described as ‘smart,’ ‘strong,’ and ‘attractive.’
While it might be beneficial to take selfies at longer distances and longer focal lengths to eliminate the distortion, there is no practical way to do so with present phone technology. This newly developed technology could change that, however, with the researchers explaining: 'our framework allows one to simulate a distant camera when the original shot was a selfie, and vice versa, in order to achieve various artistic goals.'
The researchers based their method on existing approaches to manipulating images, including the type of technology used in face-swapping apps. The key difference was using a 'full perspective' virtual camera model rather than a more simplistic, 'weak perspective' model, enabling them to compensate for the wider range of perspective adjustments needed for portraits taken at very close distances. This new method is able to estimate the camera distance and edit the perceived camera distance. Its modeling of depth also allows slight changes in the position of the virtual camera, allowing the photos to be slightly 're-posed'.
The technology promises than just correcting selfie perspective. The ability to slightly correct perspective and map facial features to a 3D model allows the creation of stereo pairs of images (3D anaglyphs) from a single image, or could make it possible to animate changes in facial expressions.
Legendary director Stanley Kubrick was known to be obsessed with cameras and pushing the limits of cinematic technology, with much of his technical awareness stemming from his days as a stills photographer. A new video essay by the British Film Institute now explains his use of different lenses to create the movie Barry Lyndon, which won an Oscar for its cinematography.
We've written before about the famous Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm F0.7 lens (originally developed for NASA) that he used, but the BFI essay also discusses how he used it. It also looks at his use of zoom shots and the meanings he hoped to convey with them.
Many scenes in the movie were shot in natural light and very dim candlelight to authentically portray the look and feel of the 18th century. In the very low light conditions Kubrick had to shoot with the superfast F0.7 lens' aperture fully open, resulting in an extremely shallow depth-of-field. This required re-thinking the way such scenes were staged and demanded reduced actor movement, to avoid mis-focus, but the director felt this helped convey the stilted 18th century atmosphere.
The video essay can be viewed on the British Film Institute's Facebook page.
Ten years have passed since our friends at LensRentals first launched as a small business operating out of a garage. The company has seen many changes over those years, both in its own operation and in the spheres of photography and videography, and it has highlighted some of those changes in a new blog post. The LensRentals team has detailed their top ten favorite products from the last decade.
'What we’ve found, is that there is no right piece of gear for everyone,' they say, 'and we all have varying tastes and expectations when it comes to gear.'
The products, which aren’t listed in any particular order, run the gamut from cameras to lenses and a few different accessories. Most notably, Canon products took four of the ten slots, with both the 5D Mark II and 5D Mark III making the list, as well as its EF 400mm F4 DO IS II and 11-24mm F4L lenses.
Pentax, Leica, Freefly, Profoto, Sony, and Sigma products fill out the remaining six slots, though as LensRentals notes: 'the photography and videography industries have changed faster than ever before, so some pieces of gear had to be left out on our list.' It’s a somewhat long read, but the LensRentals team takes the time to explain why each product earned it place on the list, and it's well worth giving it a look.
Ricoh's Theta series S 360° cameras come with several accompanying apps. While the Theta S app is used for shooting and reviewing 360° images and video, the Theta+ and Theta+ Video apps were developed for editing images and video respectively. The Theta+ Video app for iPhone was released last year, now Ricoh has launched an Android version as well.
Like the iPhone variant, Theta+ Video for Android allows you to edit 360° standard and time-lapse videos. Functions include trimming, color adjustment, cropping and the insertion of music tracks. Users can also select from from four types of view formats: Mirror Ball, Little Planet, Equirectangular, and Rectilinear.
As usual, edited videos can be shared to a range of social networks. On Facebook and YouTube they can be viewed in their full 360° glory while on some other platforms cropping is required. Theta + Video for Android is available as a free download from the Google Play Store now.
Flash Point © Brad Goldpaint (USA)
The Perseid Meteor Shower shoots across the sky in the early hours of August 13, 2015, appearing to cascade from Mount Shasta in California, USA. The composite image features roughly 65 meteors captured by the photographer between 12:30am and 4:30am.
The Royal Museums Greenwich has announced the shortlist for its eighth annual Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. More than 4500 entries were received from over 80 countries; winners will be announced on September 15, with winning images going into a free exhibition at the Royal Observatory. One overall winner will walk away with £10,000, and runners-up will take home £500 each.
Here are just a handful of the more than 130 images that made the shortlist – head to the Royal Museums Greenwich site to learn more about the competition.Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 shortlist
Seven Magic Points © Rune Engebø (Norway)
The rusty red swirls of the circular, iron sculpture Seven Magic Points in Brattebergan, Norway mirror the rippling aurora above.Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 shortlist
Frozen Giant © Nicholas Roemmelt (Germany)
The celestial curve of the Milky Way joins with the light of a stargazer’s headlamp to form a monumental arch over the Cimon della Pella in the heart of the Dolomites mountain range in northeastern Italy.Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 shortlist
M8: Lagoon Nebula © Ivan Eder (Hungary)
New stars are formed in the undulating clouds of M8, also commonly referred to as the Lagoon Nebula, situated some 5,000 light years from our planet.Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 shortlist
Parallel Mountains © Sean Goebel (USA)
The shadow of Manua Kea, the highest peak in the state of Hawaii, is projected by the rising sun over the volcano, Hualalai, whilst the Full Moon soars above them, higher again.Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 shortlist
Northern Lights over Jokulsarlon, Iceland © Giles Rocholl (UK)
A couple takes in the awe-inspiring sight of the Northern Lights streaking across the night sky over the lagoon at Jokulsarlon, Iceland on Valentine’s night of 2016.Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 shortlist
Just Missed the Bullseye © Scott Carnie-Bronca (Australia)
The International Space Station (ISS) appears to pierce a path across the radiant, concentric star trails seemingly spinning over the silhouettes of the trees in Harrogate, South Australia.Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 shortlist
Painted Hills © Nicholas Roemmelt (Germany)
With very little light pollution, the glimmering stars of the Milky Way bathe the colourful layers of the Painted Hills of Oregon in a natural glow.Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 shortlist
Antarctic Space Station © Richard Inman (UK)
A view of the Halley 6 Research Station situated on the Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica, which is believed to be the closest thing you can get to living in space without leaving Earth, making it perfect to be used for research by the European Space Agency. As the Sun’s light dissipates into the horizon, the aurora can be seen swirling overhead.
DxoMark has published its test results for Sony's flagship device in the Xperia X series, the Xperia X Performance. At 88 points the Sony achieves the same score as the HTC 10 and Samsung Galaxy S7 and now shares the top spot in the DxOMark Mobile rankings with those phones.
The DxOMark testers were particularly impressed by the Xperia X Performance's fast and accurate AF system, good exposure and dynamic range, well-controlled noise in low light and good detail in flash images. On the downside, the HDR mode does not always trigger when it should, small amounts of chroma noise are visible in outdoor conditions and the white balance is inconsistent when shooting with flash.
The Xperia X Performance comes with a very similar camera specification to the Xperia Z5. A 23MP 1/2.3-inch Sony Exmor multi-aspect sensor is coupled with a F2.0 aperture in a wide angle lens with an equivalent focal length of 24mm. A predictive AF system, developed in collaboration with the engineers in Sony's Alpha camera division, allows for improved subject tracking and low light mode ISO to be increased to 12800. You can read the full test report on the DxOMark website.
Facebook is pushing 360-degree VR content on its platform and in April announced its Surround 360 Open Source high-end VR camera. Now the company has posted detailed instructions on GitHub, which appear to be inspired by Ikea furniture assembly manuals, on how to source the parts, assemble the camera and install the software.
The Surround 360 combines 17 4MP cameras, 15 of them arranged in a circle and two fish-eye lenses on top and bottom, to capture 4K, 6K, or 8K 360-degree video. The cost of all the parts and components needed to build the device is approximately $30,000. This is a lot more than your average consumer VR camera but compares favorably to similar professional systems. Facebook also says it took a randomly selected engineer 4 hours to build the camera, so once all parts are available it seems you can be up and running in less than a day.
If you like the idea of building a Surround 360 for yourself you can download the instructions and software on GitHub. The video below shows you a time-lapse of the assembly process.
Photographer Carol M. Highsmith is suing Getty Images for $1 billion over its alleged copyright infringement of 18,755 of her photos. The lawsuit, which was filed in a New York federal court on July 25, alleges that Getty Images has been charging fees to license her images without her permission – the same images she has provided to the Library of Congress for free use by the public. In addition to distributing her images, the lawsuit alleges that Getty did not give Highsmith proper credit for her photos.
The legal claim alleges statutory damages at up to $468,875,000. But because of a ruling against Getty in Morel v. Getty, a previous copyright case, the damages can reportedly be tripled to deter 'bad faith business practices'. Highsmith became aware of Getty’s alleged copyright infringement after, she says, it sent her a letter accusing her of infringing the copyright of her own photograph by posting it on her own non-profit organization's website.
The claim states, in part, 'The defendants have apparently misappropriated Ms. Highsmith’s generous gift to the American people. [Getty Images and subsidiaries] are not only unlawfully charging licensing fees… but are falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright owner." The lawsuit also claims Highsmith’s reputation has suffered a serious blow as a result of Getty’s alleged actions.
Nikon has released some of the first sample images from its newly announced AF-S Nikkor 105mm F1.4E ED. The samples are unfortunately somewhat low in resolution, and we always take officially sanctioned manufacturer sample images with a grain of salt, but we have to say we're impressed with what we're seeing. When it ships in August, the 105mm F1.4 will be one of the fastest autofocus primes of its kind on the market.