Help shooting waterfalls

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by uplusd, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. uplusd macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #1
    Hi all,

    Excuse my noobness but I'm new to digital photography. I've been been trying to get that "misty" effect when shooting waterfalls by using a long exposure time. However, when I try it out I end up with shots that are harshly overexposed. Here are a few examples:

    [​IMG]
    25mm, f/25, 1" s, iso 100

    [​IMG]
    18mm, f/18, 1"s, iso 100

    Does anyone have any tips on how I can achieve the effect properly?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #2
    You need a strong neutral density filter, and a tripod (if you don't have one). Then you need to adjust the exposure properly.

    If your camera has mirror lock-up, all the better.
     
  3. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #3
    yes, as pointed out, a good tripod, a neutral density filter (I don't shoot mid day, rather early AM or evening), MLU (mirror lock up) and a cable release. A good lens and practice will yield good results. I shoot no higher than ISO 100 and shoot between f/8 and f/13, depending on what the conditions are.

    Click on my FlickR to see extensive waterfalls that I have taken. Here is one that i just resized. Otherwise it is straight out of the camera. I am lazy and laying on the couch while typing this.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. uplusd thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #4
    Thanks for the responses. I used a tripod for both those pictures. I'll try enabling mirror lock up and looking into neutral density filters.
     
  5. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #5
    Mirror lock-up isn't really necessary for long exposures, typically you're keeping the shutter open long enough that any mirror-induced vibration isn't going to show up in the image. f/25 is probably in diffraction territory for pretty-much any digital camera too, ND filters are a much better option.

    Paul
     
  6. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #6
    I will go more in depth about shooting waterfalls, as I have been shooting these extensively as of late (waterfall "season" in the PNW as the snow melt and rain are at peak), and have been shooting waterfalls for 8 years now.

    It takes practice and patience. Waterfall photography is VERY Dependant on the weather. Rainy is the best (not downpours, but you get the idea), but overcast is good as long as it is not sun break overcast, so to speak. I avoid MID DAY shooting at all costs. If it is sunny and in the summer, I will be AT the waterfalls (Columbia River Gorge, for instance) no later than 5AM.

    Also, do not compensate a smaller aperture for a longer exposure. Shooting at a smaller aperture will cause diffraction, and thus you will get soft images. There was a very good debate (i posted some work shot at f/18 with my 17-40L that was soft) on Fred Miranda.com a few months ago, and it was lens diffraction that caused soft images.

    I shoot no smaller than f/13. About the filters, get the best you can get. I use B+W only. I used to use Tiffen, but they are cheap, both in price and quality. I think i paid $40 new for my Tiffen 3 stop in 77mm, and paid $98 for my 77mm 3 stop B+W. Filters will last forever, unless you are abusive to your gear.

    Just check out my FlickR. I think i posted what settings i used. The ones i posted are all recent. I have 100s of waterfall images that i haven't gone through.

    Any help you need, let me know. Too bad you are not located close by, I could help you on location, so to speak.
     
  7. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #7
    Mirror lock is not critical, but it is good practice. The less factors to cause softness, the better. A lot of times, I am using 8-30 second exposures, just due to the nature of the weather up here (19 days consecutive of rain!), and the time of day i shoot. MLU helps. I will not use it if I didn't have my cable release.
     
  8. uplusd thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #8
    Is that just for waterfalls or for general photography?
     
  9. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #9
    In the 8-30 second range, you're not going to get any advantage from MLU. I don't remember what the cut-off is, but in that range the vibration isn't going to register- you're talking .6-.8 seconds of vibration at the worst-case for the entire mirror cycle- mirror down doesn't matter since you've already made the exposure at that point. I think the vibration from the mirror going up lasts about .25 seconds in most cameras, so I wouldn't expect to be able to see any effect on a shot of 1 second or more, double that and you're still well below your 8 second lower bound.


    Paul
     
  10. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #10
    Don't go chasing waterfalls ...

    Sorry I had to. :D

    It's good practice for waterfalls, not for all photography.
     
  11. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #11
    Diffraction is diffraction, no matter what you're shooting. I don't go past f/11 as it's near the diffraction limit for both of my cameras. There are times when it's not as big a deal, but I try to stay away from the limit. Diffraction being noticeable is more a function of print size than the camera's pixel size, but at some point the pixels become the gating factor. I know with my camera bodies that if I stay at f/11 or wider, I won't bring any loss of sharpness due to diffraction into the equation.

    Here's a good explanation and calculator:

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/diffraction-photography.htm

    Here's a good explanation of the sensor resolution issues:

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/forums/thread869.htm

    Paul
     
  12. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #12
    Paul posted great links. I read those as well a while back. Interesting read. It seems that diffraction affects full frame sensor cameras less than crop. I remember shooting with a small aperture with my EOS-3 and 16-35L back in the day (velvia RVP 50)..

    And yes, I usually dont go smaller than f/13 on anything.
     
  13. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #13
    Mirror lockup certainly doesn't hurt - and, depending on what you're trying to achieve, you may not always be using super-long exposures.

    I'm not trying to be disagreeable, I just fall into the "better safe than sorry" camp. If I always use mirror lockup then I don't have to think differently about 1/2 second exposures versus 10 second exposures.
     
  14. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #14
    I'm not sure that's true. In terms of pixel density, it's just that FF cameras tend to have larger photosites than crop cameras, for instance my D2x's photosites are 5.5 microns and my D3x is 5.9.

    However, there is some contrast fall-off before that- here's an interesting article:

    http://diglloyd.com/articles/Diffraction/Diffraction-TechnicalChallenge.html

    I'm not sure that he's got it all there- but he has the 40D with a wider maximum aperture than the D3x, that's got to be due to pixel density. Most of his data is usually backed up by very reasonable testing, so while I might pick holes in the methodology here, I think the principle is sound. While there's a huge difference between "best" and "good enough," I'd say that I've never had sharpness or contrast issues with images at f/8 on my D2x, but f/6.3 IS likely to be the smallest optimal aperture.

    Paul
     

Share This Page