iPhone Photography of Waterfalls

iPhone Photography of Waterfalls

Swallow Falls in Snowdonia. Shot on iPhone 6 Plus. © Adrian McGarry

Swallow Falls in Snowdonia. Shot on iPhone 6 Plus. © Adrian McGarry

I've just returned from a fabulous road trip around the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. The area contains some of the most magnificent and dramatic scenery in Wales. Amid mountains, hills, streams and lakes there are numerous opportunities to photograph waterfalls, from gentle trickles to awesome cascades.

I'd like to share some tips and techniques on photographing waterfalls with an iPhone camera. Most of the basic landscape photography rules apply to capturing waterfall images. 

1. Try to avoid photographing in hash sunlight. The most difficult part of photographing water is to avoid 'burning out highlights', in other words creating bright white areas of the water that contain no detail. Early morning, late afternoon, cloudy or even rainy days will produce a softer, less intrusive, light.

In this image I have photographed the waterfall with my iPhone on a cloudy day which has enabled me to capture all the details in the water. When photographing cloudy skies keep in mind that you will want to also capture some interesting cloud detail rather than a boring white space. 

In this image I have photographed the waterfall with my iPhone on a cloudy day which has enabled me to capture all the details in the water. When photographing cloudy skies keep in mind that you will want to also capture some interesting cloud detail rather than a boring white space. 

2. If you want to create soft, blurred, images of waterfalls then a tripod or a steady way of supporting your iPhone is a must. You will also need to purchase a mount to hold your phone and connect to the tripod. I use a ShoulderPod S1 which doubles as a hand held grip.

The soft, dream-like effect is the result of a longer amount of time that the picture has been taken. For long exposure images more control over the iPhone camera is required. There are lots of apps that allow additional, manual settings but if setting shutter speeds, ISO levels etc. is a daunting option then check out dedicated long exposure apps like LongExpo Pro or Slow Shutter Cam. These apps allow you to set a timed exposure of your image. The longer you expose your photo, the more blur you will create in your picture.

This image was taken with an iPhone 6 Plus, on a tripod, on an 8 second exposure.©Adrian McGarry 2016

This image was taken with an iPhone 6 Plus, on a tripod, on an 8 second exposure.©Adrian McGarry 2016

3. Concentrate on the whole composition not just the water. The angle of the waterfall in relation to the surrounding area will increase the impact and overall interest. Try to include some of the surroundings to convey more about the surrounding area and character. 

Pay attention to composition when photographing waterfalls. Look beyond the water and include interesting elements in your shot. ©Adrian McGarry 2016

Pay attention to composition when photographing waterfalls. Look beyond the water and include interesting elements in your shot. ©Adrian McGarry 2016

4. There are no right and wrong ways to shoot a waterfall as long as you follow the basics. Some like the soft, milky shots others prefer to capture the raw power of the water. Try capturing different images and then compare later for the best results.

Composition, exposure and exposure are all subjective. Take multiple shots and decide later on which you think is the best.

Composition, exposure and exposure are all subjective. Take multiple shots and decide later on which you think is the best.

To capture these kind of images on a DSLR camera is actually trickier. The main difference from how an iPhone camera works is that a DSLR captures continuous light whereas the iPhone 'stacks' multiple images. Therefore the the skill of the DSLR photographer is required to calculate the amount of light captured over a given period. This may mean that various graduated or polarising filters need to be used to control the light. We iPhone photographers on the other hand just rock up, set the basic exposure and let the software do the rest!

I hope this short tutorial inspires and helps you to get out into the landscape and create stunning waterfall shots. Enjoy your photography, most of all remember - it's your camera, your picture, your rules!

All images and content ©Adrian McGarry 2016

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