Fallen for waterfalls

Water always finds the way when it has a place to flow. It loves the earth, caresses it, covers it, jumps from it and then we get our streams, rivers and waterfalls!!!

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(Kondhavle falls at Bhimashankar, Maharshtra, India )

 

All the monsoon treks done during college days were always filled with experiences of different rain fed waterfalls in the Sahyadris. These are temporary waterfalls only borne during monsoon, they jump from rocky cliffs, they flow from those green valleys, running to meet some river. These waterfalls have the soul of a traveler and that’s why I have always been intrigued by them and have tried to soak myself in them whenever I could.

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(Small stream at Agumbe rainforest, Karnataka, India )

 

I have memories of climbing through them in Khandus – Bhimashankar trek and  the ‘One-tree hill’ trek from Thakurwadi to Matheran.  Its fun to take them on and climb by cutting through their flow, soaked till the bone in cold water.

When you reach the top, you look back with a sense of achievement, even though you are shivering with gale of wind which follows these falls.

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(Jog falls, Karnataka, India )

After a few years when I started photography, I visited many waterfalls with my camera and got the same sense of achievement that I got during my trekking days, like soaking to the bone in them.

 

Photographing waterfalls is like writing a story; you can slow the water for a surreal effect or you can actually shoot the speed to show its power.  It all depends on what mood you are in. Most photographers try to get the smooth white blurring effect of water as it gives pleasure to viewer’s eyes. Here are two images taken of a same waterfall, ( Marleshwar falls )  one showing force and other showing surreal effect.

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( Marleshwar Falls, Near ratnagiri, Maharashtra India )

 

Just changing shutter speed does this.  If light conditions are either dark or harsh then it throws other challenges. If you need fast shutter speed to freeze the moment and light is dull, then you need a larger aperture; but this reduces the depth of field. If you need to slow down to get that surreal/blurring effect under harsh light conditions, you will get overexposed water. So you either need to use the smallest aperture or depend on Neutral Density filters to get that slow shutter speed. With some trial and error shots you will be able to get exactly what you want. A sturdy tripod always helps in such situations.  Neutral Density filters (ND) come in 2, 4, 6 or 8 stops.  If you want one for all, then you can look for Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter.

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( Below and above – Stream at Palsamba, near Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India )

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The next thing you need to look at is, composition of the whole image, position of the waterfall in a frame. It’s an individual’s choice and there are no rules to it. For me, I generally like to just sit and walk around the waterfall if possible and shoot what I like to see in my images. It can be the whole flow of water going through cliffs and rocks or it can just be water around a single rock.

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(Kondhavle falls at Bhimashankar, Maharshtra, India )

 

Also while walking around you see different perspectives of the same place and you can incorporate  your thoughts on how you would like to describe the place to your viewers.

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(Stream at Palsamba, near Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India )

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(Kondhavle falls at Bhimashankar, Maharshtra, India )

 

Here are some images of same place in different compositions. Just by moving around as I was saying earlier, you open viewers mind to so many possibilities.

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(Small stream at Agumbe rainforest, Karnataka, India )

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(Small stream at Agumbe rainforest, Karnataka, India )

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(Small stream at Agumbe rainforest, Karnataka, India )

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(Small stream at Agumbe rainforest, Karnataka, India )

Getting some other elements from surroundings, like leaves, flowers or insects in relation with the waterfall makes some unique images and gives a real time effect to the frame. I always keep looking for these small little things around waterfalls, which gives a point of anchor to the whole image. In the below image you will be able to see 2 spiders floating on their strings across the water flow.

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(Stream at Palsamba, near Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India )

 

Including such elements also tells you the natural history of streams,  there are many insects adapted to such fast moving riparine environment .They feed on algae or other debris coming through water.  Stream insects are extremely sensitive to changes in stream systems and therefore are important bioindicators.

 

Horizontal or vertical framing is a question you need to ask yourself as both angles can change the perspective of an image. Here are 2 images of same place in different frames but the effect is very different.

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( Marleshwar Falls, Near ratnagiri, Maharashtra India )

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( Marleshwar Falls, Near ratnagiri, Maharashtra India )

So once you started enjoying your waterfalls then its easy to photograph them as you visualize. The key is using right technique and spending time with them.

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(Stream at Palsamba, near Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India )

This entry was posted in Blog, Photography.

3 Comments

  1. Shivangi Datar September 4, 2014 at 4:34 am #

    Beautiful pictures Kedar! Nice perspective too!

  2. Badri September 4, 2014 at 5:13 am #

    Masterfully explained with great visuals. Thoroughly enjoyed this post.

  3. Vidya September 4, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    Loved the post and the pics! Esp. the pics showing force and the surreal effect.

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