Tarraleah Falls | How to Choose the Right Camera Setting for a Smooth Waterfall
After getting drenched the day before, we headed south to Tarraleah Falls for some midday landscape photography.
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We'd received some snow the previous night, so the air was cold. Tarrahleah is a town built around the development of the hydro scheme, where water from the river feeding the Tarraleah Falls is diverted to the hydro pumps. with less water in the river, the falls were smaller than they are naturally. Given the size of the falls we had experiences recently, this was probably a good thing.
After a short reasonably simple walk, we arrived at the lookout. It was a platform suspended out from the side of the gorge. While it provided a great perspective, it didn't give us much flexibility with composition. There was pretty much one location from which to shoot the falls. There were other challenges like the high fencing enclosing the platform that kept getting into the shot and the fact the platform would shake when anyone moved.
When I shoot waterfalls there a general approach, I take to select the right camera settings to achieve a smooth effect. I start with f8 and the base ISO (64). It was the middle of the day, so there was lots of light, so those setting gave me a shutter speed of 1/15 of a second. I typically want a shutter speed of around 1/2 second, so the water is smooth but with a little detail. To achieve that, I needed to cut out some light. The circular polariser that was reducing the glare was also cutting out around 2/3 of a stop, but I needed a little more. I added the 6 stop Neutral Density LEE Filter which brought it down to much, so now the scene was too dark. I corrected this by increasing the ISO to 250 and stopping down the aperture to f6.3. The depth of field was suitable because I was so far away from the subject.