9 Simple Tips for Taking Better Photos of Waterfalls

Landscape photographer and YouTuber Mads Peter Iversen has released a helpful on-location tutorial for anybody who wants to photograph waterfalls. The beginner-focused tutorial runs you through 9 simple tips that will help you take better, more deliberate photos of this common landscape photography subject.

To shoot the tutorial, Iversen hiked to two beautiful waterfalls during a trip to the Lofoten archipelago in Norway, taking viewers along for the ride as he crafts each composition and offering some tips along the way.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a tutorial for advanced landscape photographer, though some enthusiast shooters might benefit from a few of these ideas (Tip #1, #4, and #6 come to mind). Here’s a list of all 9 tips as they’re presented above:

  1. Filters First – Determine if you need to use filters before you find your composition.
  2. Shutter Speed – Typically, you’ll be shooting between 1/4s and 1s.
  3. Think in Layers – Be deliberate about what’s in the foreground, midground and background of your image, and decide where the waterfall fits best.
  4. Compression – Play with your focal length and perspective to get the right size relationship between the different elements in your foreground, midground and background.
  5. Know Your Subject – Rain and melting snow will lead to larger waterfalls that are more “full.” Picking the right time of year or even the right day can totally change your results.
  6. Trial and Error – Step back and take a long exposure of the whole waterfall first. Then analyze the movement of different parts to identify the best composition.
  7. Think Holistically – Consider every element you plan to include (or exclude) from your composition. Don’t include elements unless they benefit the entire photo.
  8. Just Go – You can plan all you want in terms of weather, but in the end, you should just go. You never know what’ll happen
  9. Get Low – If you’ve only got small waterfalls available, shoot from down low and focus stack a couple of images to get both the foreground and background in focus.

And here are three of the images that Iversen was able to capture using this approach:

Check out the full video up top to dive into each of these tips in a little more detail and see how Mads crafts each composition. In fact, the video is probably most useful as a behind-the-scenes, on-location sneak peek than a straightforward list of tips—there’s a lot a beginner can learn by simply watching a seasoned landscape photographer like Iversen work.

Image credits: Photos by Mads Peter Iversen and used with permission.


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