The third season of the year is here, and it is my favourite season of the year for photography. Fall or autumn, it doesn’t matter which word is used, is so darn colourful here in British Columbia; and I really enjoy the cooler air, a welcome relief from the heat of summer.
This week I drove the short distance down the road to Chase Creek Falls. I was in April just after the spring runoff when the high water began to subside. April is the second best time to go there, October the best. October has low water that makes scrambling along the colourful creek side easy, and lets photographers position their tripod and cameras close to the falls without getting wet.
In my April article I wrote that I have been photographing Chase Creek Falls since sometime in 1976. I have used 35mm, medium format, large format, film, and digital to photograph those falls every season of the year in every type of weather using black and white, colour, and even polaroid film.
I have gotten wet, walked away muddy after sliding down the steep bank, and bumped into the large river rocks a bit to hard. I’ve lost lens caps, a lens hood and even a polarizing filter on my visits. I have used the Chase Creek Falls once as a background for a large family reunion and another time for wedding portraits.
Photographing waterfalls is very easy and almost as relaxing as wandering around a garden. Modern digital cameras have improved the ease of taking photos by removing the requirement of much of the technical information that photographers once needed to know.
The equipment doesn’t need to be expensive or special. Select your favourite DSLR, a lens that has a wide enough focal length to see the falls, a tripod, and a neutral density filter. When I remember, I also like to use a cable release; but if forgotten the cable release isn’t a big deal, just use the camera’s self-timer instead.
Setting up the camera to get that soft looking water coming over the falls is very easy. Just choose a low ISO and a small aperture. The low ISO allows a slow shutter speed, and the small aperture gives lots of depth of field.
An ND, or neutral density, filter reduces the light going through the lens to the sensor and is the most trouble free filter for making long exposures. I prefer the square or rectangle ones that I can hold in front of my lens. I don’t use the fancy filter holder as that just gets in my way when I want to add additional ND filters to reduce the light.
I prefer shutter speeds of three or more seconds, and adjust the ISO, aperture and ND filters to accommodate that. Next, point the camera and start making pictures decreasing the shutter speed and checking the LCD as one goes along. It is all so easy.
This is a perfect time of year (here in British Columbia anyway) to spend some time photographing local waterfalls. They don’t have to be large and exotic, just have a bit of water going over them. And like me, after a dozen or so shots, put the camera back in it’s bag and sit quietly in the sand and lean back on a big smooth river rock so you can enjoy the sound of the water. Life is good.