Photo Guide: How To Take Photos of Waterfalls

Since the release of the NJspots Maps, the Waterfalls and Lookout Spots map has been one of the more popular maps and rightfully so. In the world of travel and social media, it seems like all the trendy influencers are taking photos in front of massive waterfalls. But here in New Jersey, we like to think you are looking to explore them for different reasons.

Whether you’re searching for tranquility, a swimming hole, or a cool spot to take some photos in front of the cascading water, we can all agree there are some amazing waterfalls that can be found right here in New Jersey. There are quite a few popular and well-visited falls in New Jersey, but you can always hike and find some additional ones that we outline on our map too.

Suggested Resource: NJspots Waterfall Map

Equipment For Photographing Waterfalls

Before we start going over technique and tips, it’s important to show up to a waterfall like you “kind of” know what you’re doing. These are some things to bring or wear along with your journey to the falls.

  • Tripod
  • 6 (or 10 stop) ND (Neutral Density) Filter
  • Waterproof shoes (or ones you don’t mind getting wet)
  • Extra Socks
  • Plastic Cover for Camera & Lens
  • Microfiber Cloth for Cleaning Lens from Mist

A little over a year ago I found a photo by @jimmykastner while searching through the #NJspots tag and came across a majestic scene. It was a river with a small waterfall and an old stone building next to it. The scene was encompassed by the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows, of the Autumn season. Since I shared that photo with the @njspots community, I have been wanting to visit it. I finally figured out how to navigate the Black River Trail in Chester, NJ to get there. While I was walking back to my car after visiting this place today, I ran into someone with camera gear on and asked if he was going to the spot too. He was and it just so happened that it was Jimmy! What a small world. Thanks to Jimmy for the inspiration and for @instagram for a platform for those connections to happen. #NJspots 📷 Nikon D5500; 10mm 📲 Uploaded with @gnarbox 🎨 Edited with @enlightphotofox

A post shared by Virginia Buechel | @NJspots (@buewho) on

Tips for Photographing Waterfalls

Now that you have all your proper equipment ready for your trek, it’s time to get your techniques ready. Just like taking photos anywhere, sometimes the settings and set up will be different for every waterfall you visit. Keep in mind a few things like time of year, the popularity of the area, and also the lighting when taking photos of the waterfall.

Weather

Yes — everyone LOVES to explore the outdoors when it’s sunny out, but believe it or not it’s easier to capture the flow of water when it’s cloudy or overcast and there isn’t any harsh lighting for the water (tip via Ambassador JJ Bowen).

Timing

Just like the weather, it’s important to time your photos of the falls too. If it’s a popular area, be sure to get there early enough to miss the crowds. No one likes to wait around for people to get out of the way or if it’s also a popular swimming hole (tip via Ambassador Sean Mahon).

Setting Up Your Camera

If you plan your timing and the weather correctly, it’s time to set up! Set up your camera on a tripod for steady support whether it’s on a rock, on the ground, in the water, or anywhere you find the perfect angle. Make sure if your camera is near the water, you have a good weight (or grip) on it so it doesn’t float away.

Ready To Get Those Smooth, Buttery Waterfall Shot?

Best Camera Settings

After your camera is secure, time to have fun! In order to get that smooth waterfall shot, the key is to keep your shutter open on your camera. To accomplish this successfully, you have to have an ND (neutral density) filter. Think of it as sunglasses for your camera lens that allows you to keep the shutter open without bleeding out the scene.

Open Your Shutter & Use Filter

Using the ND Filter is something that we suggest you practice with perhaps with your kitchen sink running before you head out to the waterfall. Generally speaking, you’re usually going to be using a shutter speed between .5 and 2 seconds (tip via Ambassador JJ Bowen). For smaller waterfalls or trickles, you may find that full 30 seconds will work, too.

Waterfall Photo Wrap-Up!

As long as you have the correct equipment and set up, you should have no problem taking a few different shots, angles, and shutter speeds when you visit waterfalls. The key is to making sure you have an ND filter to allow your camera to be open to get those smooth water flows. At the end of the day, just remember to HAVE FUN (tip via Abe Tuachi)!

Looking For Waterfalls In New Jersey?

We have some waterfalls mapped out throughout the state, including natural and man-made ones.

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Written by Virginia, NJspots Founder

Founded by Virginia in 2015, NJspots is a place where New Jersey natives and visitors can find amazing photos taken around the state while discovering new spots to explore. With over 227,000 tags used on Instagram, NJspots is the place to go to find your next new spot in New Jersey to adventure to. Virginia has a passion for sharing these great spots and experiences people can have in NJ and also sharing the great photos along the way.

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