SHOOTING WHITE WATER – what I learned today

Leura Cascades, Blue Mountains...but they don't really look like this.

Leura Cascades, Blue Mountains…but they don’t really look like this.



I took a short walk in the Blue Mountains yesterday, with camera at the hip. A storm was on its way, and I’d read that gloomy weather is ideal for taking shots of waterfalls.


I wanted to practise getting that ‘soft water’ effect, popular on postcard and poster shots. It’s phoney of course, but it’s satisfying when you can make a shot look something like what the pros can manage. A bit of photoshopping was required too – another learning experience for me.

Grey days make waterfall shooting easier because direct sunlight catching on spray causes too much contrast, or tricks the automatic settings on the camera into thinking that the surroundings are brighter than they are.

The Leura Cascades are modest as waterfalls go. The first step was to point and shoot.

What the cascades really look like.

What the cascades really look like.

All very well and good, but my aim was to try for that soft water. So I switched the camera to Tv mode, and set the exposure to 1 second. I had no tripod with me, so I set the self timer to “2 second” mode, strategically placed the camera on a rock, pressed the shutter and stepped back.

This was the result.

Before giving it the Lightroom treatment.

Before giving it the Lightroom treatment.

No too bad, but I felt that the surroundings looked a bit washed out and uninteresting.

So over to Photoshop in Lightroom 3. I followed a little tutorial on YouTube, then using Develop/Effects/Vignette I slightly darkened the corners of the frame, focussing the attention on the water and adding a little magic to the atmosphere.

Here’s the final shot again…

I'm rather pleased with what I've learned today.

I’m rather pleased with what I’ve learned today.

9 Comments

Filed under travel photography

9 responses to “SHOOTING WHITE WATER – what I learned today

  1. Angela Highstead

    Isn’t learning wonderful Richard? Have only visited the Blue Mountains once from here on the Western edge of our great land. I did a little waterfall walk on a cool, soft, English style spring morning. “Ahh”. Always love your column and photos. Thank you.

  2. Beautiful image, Richard 🙂

    This is something I always wanted to try and I had been to so many waterfalls.

    Thanks a lot for sharing the images at different stages of development and it really shows, how much effort been put behind each post here.

    Have a beautiful day 🙂

  3. You made a good job of that Richard.

  4. Pingback: OUR SECOND OLDEST NATIONAL PARK – and the most beautiful? | Richard Tulloch's LIFE ON THE ROAD

  5. Rowland

    You clearly stole this picture from this professional photography page:

    Have you no shame or decency to credit the image?

    • Thanks for pointing this out, Rowland.

      But I assure you, I took this photo. The other page has apparently ‘stolen’ it and converted it to black and white. I’m glad they liked it enough to go to that trouble, but it would have been nice if they’d credited me of course.

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