David Liam Kyle: Photographing Waterfalls for that Painterly Feel

Dlk Falls Thumb

Since I am a believer in the KISS Principle (keep it simple…) Here are some simple tips for photographing waterfalls. First you want to start with your basic photographic gear needs:

  1. A good solid tripod
  2. Camera with shutter priority capabilities
  3. Neutral density or polarizing filters
  4. Cable release

In my opinion the best time of day to photograph waterfalls is in the early morning and evening. Usually this time of day is called “the magic hour” because of the soft, warm quality of the light. An overcast day also works well because basically, you want to avoid harsh sunlight.

Once you have found your beautiful waterfalls to photograph, find the perfect composition while hand holding your camera. Once you have decided on your frame, attach your camera to your tripod and firmly place it on solid ground. Adjust your composition, focus and set your camera to shutter priority.

The next step is to connect your cable release to your camera. It is very important to not have any camera movement during your exposure, so use a cable release. If you don’t have a cable release, you can use the automatic timer on your camera. With your tripod in place either will work.


The last step is to add a neutral density or polarizing filter in front of your lens. This will limit the amount of light entering your camera and permit you to use a slower shutter speed. The slow shutter speed gives the waterfalls that painterly appearance as some movement in the water is captured, creating a soft blur. Start at 1/6th shutter speed and make adjustments for the image you’re trying to create. The longer the shutter speed, the more blurred motion will appear on your photo. Shoot several test shots and then adjust for exposure and motion to your artistic preference.

I hope these simple tips help you to capture beautiful images of waterfalls.



David Liam Kyle is a nationally recognized photographer who has captured awe-inspiring images of nature, people, news, professional sports, and more in a career spanning over three decades. David has photographed over 700 assignments for Sports Illustrated, covering the action of the NBA, NFL, MLB, PGA, and the NCAA, as well as portraits and feature stories. David is also the official photographer of the Cleveland Cavaliers and has photographed over 1400 NBA games. See more of his outstanding work at his http://www.davidliamkyle.com/.

Leave a Comment

Activate Popup

Let's Keep in Touch

Be the first to know about new lighting lessons, contests, events and promotions by signing up for the Photoflex monthly newsletter and updates from PromarkBRANDS.