Making A Waterfall Image



One thing that most people never consider is that the final image photographers post, print, or otherwise show to the public is usually not the only version that was made.

Sometimes, everything lines up for the first press of the shutter, but most often (for me at least) I try a few out to test the light, composition, shutter speed or any number of other parameters. Man, I can't even imagine how long it would take to see improvement in my technique back in the film days. Thank you, digital photography.

Speaking of which...A couple days ago, I picked up some film images that I had developed at Blue Moon Camera and machine and one of the frames was from a trip to Silver Creek Falls back in February. I posted a digital image from this session a couple days after shooting it, but the film version prompted me to revisit the pile of images from that day.

I haven't included them all, but I did think it would be interesting to post a few to show the progression and give you a little insight into how I arrived at my final image.



Image A, is the final one I put out there a few months ago, but it wasn't the first photo I made that day. In fact, you can see that I tried slightly different composition first.

B, is a portrait oriented version, with very similar development work done in Lightroom 5. It's a 5 second exposure, with the aperture right in the middle at F/10/. I used a neutral density filter to smooth out the motion of the water.

You can see that I tried a shorter exposure in example C, but it just didn't have the right feel.


You may notice that both C and D have a similar field of vision. I used the Sony 24mm Zeiss F/1.8 which is a beautifully sharp and colorful lens even at the corners of the frame. I really wanted to use this lens as it's easily the best one I own.

I couldn't quite get the compostion that I was looking for so I tried switching to a portrait orientation, but it just didn't feel quite right. After messing around for a few minutes with an image that felt somehow incomplete I finally decided that the image I was looking for would need a wider angle to capture more of the foreground detail from the tree in the water. Unfortunately, I was standing on a bridge which prevented the obvious move of stepping back a few paces.

I switched to the Sony 18-55mm Kit zoom to get a little more action and foreground elements into the frame. Though it isn't as sharp, this wider angle field was what I needed to capture the feel of being there. (Side note- maybe there's the excuse to start looking at nicer wide angle lens).

After a few months, I have to say that there is a really great quality and a pop in the details and the foreground of the portrait/vertical oriented version. I didn't see it at first, but it has really grown on me. Maybe I should try a print.





Finally, after I was pretty sure I had the shot I'd come looking for, I switched camera bodies to record the scene on film. Image E below- was made with my Olympus OM1, with a 28mm, f/3.5 lens at 1 second exposure, f/16 and Kodak Ektar 100 film. It was processed and scanned by Blue Moon camera.

The color is far more subdued than even the RAW files from the Sony, but there is a different sort of beauty that I really love.

I would've tried for a longer exposure, but forgot my cable release at home.