Waterfall Fix

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Latourell Falls
Latourell Falls, photographed from the parking lot viewpoint.

Like a lot of photographers, I’m addicted to waterfalls. I don’t photograph them a lot because I haven’t figured out how to make money from them — too many great photos and not enough buyers. But I was down to Vancouver, Washington at the end of March for the annual Professional Photographers of Washington conference and had a morning free so I headed up the Columbia Gorge for a waterfall fix.

Latourell Falls
Latourell Falls, from the bridge over the creek just below the base of the falls.

I visited Latourell Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and Fairy Falls on this trip and came away with a nice handful of images that I like. I also shot a series of images of Wahkeena Falls at different shutter speeds to use when I teach my photo classes.

Latourell Falls
The base of Latourell Falls.

The black and white conversions here were done with Nik Silver Efx Pro, a plug-in for Photoshop that gives a great deal of control and a huge range of choices.

Upper Latourell Falls
Upper Latourell Falls

My rule of thumb for photographing waterfalls is a shutter speed of about 1/4 second. Anything from about 1/8 to a full second works pretty well for the silky look. If you want crisp droplets then aim for a shutter speed of 1/000 sec. or shorter.

Fairy Falls

Fairy Falls, on Wahkeena Creek a mile or so up from Wahkeena Falls.

Remember that if you’re going to photograph waterfalls that there’s going to be a lot spray so make sure you have something to wipe the droplets off your lens before every frame. Otherwise you’ll get fuzzy spots. It might be the effect you’re after, but most of the time the spots just ruin an otherwise nice image. And watch out for slippery rocks.

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