(Note- Here I have decided to split this into two posts. This first post is just some background info but the next post will be 10 tips for better waterfall shooting. While not a complete list of tips for this type of shooting, It details some things I have learned over the past four years.)
Self teaching yourself Photography can be a real bear. I knew from the very beginning when I wanted to start learning to shoot digital images that I had a goal and how I wanted to achieve it. I wanted to go beyond just taking a simple snapshot, I wanted to actually make an image. I wanted to be creative and really learn the medium from the ground up. I felt that it would be a waste of time to spend thousands of dollars on camera gear, set it on full auto and started snapping away. There wouldn’t be any heart and soul in the image and I would never grow out of that initial stage of frustration when learning the basics of camera control.
By my own nature I like to ask myself questions about a topic and try to figure out the answers through trial and error and research. I have no teachers or mentors to ask so I had to become self-reliant when it came to the basics of Photography. In my aimless , fumbling, did not know any better, rookie days, I spent a lot of time looking at a ton of images and doing lots of research on the internet. I wanted to learn as much as I could in the shortest amount of time. I suppose as I approach the boundary of middle age tha I wanted my learning curve to be rather short. Research and reading only goes so far as there is a big difference between so to speak book smarts and street smarts. Early on I had the idea of shooting waterfalls as a practical way of learning the relationship between Iso, F-stop, and Shutterspeed…The three building blocks of Photography.
Waterfall and water imagery has always fascinated me, I love this style of shooting and I figured that it would be a great place to start. It’s the type of Photography that over a long exposure can show the power and motion of nature and water, Both of which we can sometimes take for granted. Armed with some basic Photographic knowledge and research about waterfalls here in Vermont I ventured off into the wilderness to get the most fantastic waterfall images that have ever been taken. I say this as a joke as very soon I started to tell myself, “Hey this is a little harder than it looks, I have to compose an image?, The rule of thirds?, What in the world have I gotten myself into?”
After a long period of a great deal of mistakes and experimentation I finally started to see that my images were getting better. I can be honest, When I first started shooting my work just plain sucked. I stuck with it though with my goal of becoming a professional Photographer firmly planted in my mind. I had patience and now, today I can say that I can make competent exposures and images. Shooting these long exposures has helped me to learn in so many ways, Especially in grasping the concepts of Iso, F-stops and Shutter speeds and how the relate to each other in-camera.