Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shooting Waterfalls~ Elakala~ Blackwater State Park, West Virginia

f-18, 4.0 seconds, ISO 80, 45 mm focal length.
Elakala is a most frequently photographed waterfall in Blackwater State Park, West Virginia. I had a couple hours in the morning to hike in and make a few images here before checking out and leaving West Virginia. I love this scene in the fall with the beech tree leaves decorating the floor of the forest. When I teach intro to Digital Photography at Johns Hopkins, beginning photographers always ask what shutter speed do you use to get that look...well the answer is.... depends on how fast the water is moving, how bright is the light one is working in, what focal length is the lens and what ISO are you shooting? There is no one stock answer for shutter speed and waterfalls!
Since the water was running slowly this day and I had some foreground, I stopped down my aperture and also took my ISO down to Lo on the opening shot. When I took my first photo workshop, many years ago, it was with John and Barbara Gerlach in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and we shot lots of waterfalls. I learned from one of the best at that time, by spot metering the white part of the waterfall and adding a stop of light in manual exposure mode. This generally gave me a good exposure but the dreamy look is contingent on the speed at which one allows the shutter to lag and the flow of the water, so experimenting is essential.
Now you can also play with choosing an in camera multiple exposure to create a similar look and stack up the water flow. I love this waterfall also for the ability to make intimate compositions of the mossy rocks decorated with the yellow beech leaves and the veil like streams of water .
f-11, 1/5 sec, ISO 640, 300mm focal length

f-8, 1.3 sec, ISO 80, 250 focal length
f-11, 1/5 sec, ISO 640, focal length 82mm popped contrast with Nik Color Efex Pro Tonal Contrast

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