The Beauty of Water

Being an outdoor photographer, I often encounter waterfalls at some of the locations I'm visiting both at home and abroad. Their elegance, movement and ever-changing character make them a popular subject among photographers. Despite their beauty, they can be challenging to capture for a number of reasons. The intensity of the light and the time of day are two of the most important aspects to consider. Diffused light when the sun is less intense makes it easier to achieve a more balanced exposure. On bright sunny days and in high contrast situations it can be extremely difficult to achieve an acceptable result.

There is often a misconception that static subjects present little in the way of a challenge; which is completely untrue. Photographing waterfalls can be tricky, there are many technical obstacles to overcome and a degree of experimentation is often required to achieve the correct balance. The flow of a waterfall, the drop, its structure and scale all have a bearing on shutter speed and aperture selection and the finished result. There is no single technique that works in every situation; the effect you desire is related to all of the above-mentioned factors. Polarising and ND filters are often useful aids for achieving the desired result.

The examples illustrated below are among some of the images I have accumulated when working in my own country or through workshops further afield. In the majority of cases, I have not set out specifically to photograph them; however, having said that I enjoy capturing their beauty and charm when I come across them. In many of these situations, I have had to deal with the lighting conditions at the time. Sometimes the light was to my advantage, and on many occasions, it was not. Successful waterfall photography requires timing, selecting the ideal conditions when there is sufficient flow. It may often require several visits to get an acceptable result although this is not always possible especially when photographing away from home. You may only have a single opportunity and are therefore forced to deal with the conditions at the time, which has been the case with many of the examples illustrated below.

Although there are technical aspects to overcome, don't forget to consider the creative side; its easy to just photograph everyone from a similar position creating a uniform look with the characteristic blur, which I call the 'marshmallow effect'. Don't be afraid to experiment; water can be so expressive when photographed showing the tranquil side, but also consider illustrating other aspects that show its speed and ferocity.


Shimna River, Tollymore Forest, County Down_RST094481
Glenariff River, Country Antrim_RST094462
Glenariff River, County Antrim_RST098874
Shimna River, Tollymore Forest, County Down,_RST083341
Small river base of Shan Slieve, Mourne Mountains_RST085541
Tollymore Forest, County Down_RST086642
Slap Milke Trnine waterfall, Croatia_RST085574
Veliki Prstavac, Galovac lake, Croatia_RST083343
Waterfalls in Plitvice upper lakes, Croatia_RST087784
Waterfalls lower lakes, Plitvice Croatia_RST085572
Torc Waterfall, County Kerry_RST087556
Small river running down from Shan Slieve, Mourne Mountains_RST085542
Tollymore Forest, County Down_RST084452
Ordesa Valley, Pyrenees, Spain_RST085582
Shimna River, Tollymore Forest, County Down_RST087884
Shimna River, Tollymore Forest, County Down_RST087888
Shimna River, Tollymore Forest, County Down_RST087881
Shimna River, Tollymore Forest, County Down_RST087889
Drumquin River, County Tyrone_RST087933
Shimna River, Tollymore Forest, County Down_RST083742
Miner's Hole River, Mourne Mountains, County Down_RST089943
Milanovacki & Slapovi Waterfalls, Croatia_RST086621
Glynne River, County Antrim_RST085755
Mourne Mountains, County Down_RST087221
Glynne River, County Antrim_RST085752
Cascada del Estrecho, Ordesa Valley,Northern Spain_RST085991
Annalong River, Mourne Mountains, County Down_RST982247
Galovac Lake waterfalls, Croatia_RST037923
Grand Cascade, Cirque de Gavarnie, Pyrenees, France_RST082445
Glynne River, County Antrim_RST085751
Cascada de la Cueva Ordesa Valley Northern Spain_RST086527
Drumquin River, County Tyrone_RST087938
Arazas River, Ordesa, Pyrenees, Northern Spain_RST083358
Lake Jezero, Croatia_RST011229
Glynne River, County Antrim_RST085757
Milke Trnine Waterfall, Croatia_RST011498
Owengarriff River, County Kerry_RST029537
Shimna River, Tollymore Forest, County Down_RST085581
River Ara, Valle de Bujaruelo, Ordesa, Pyrenees Northern_RST690943
Small stream Col de jou, Ordesa, Northern Spain_RST0838588
Small stream Col de jou, Pyrenees, France_RST085848
Small waterfall near Seljalandsfoss, Porsmerkurvegur, Iceland_RST027955
Small river base of Shan Slieve, Mourne Mountains_RST085544
Shimna River, Tollymore Forest, County Down_RST086884
Sastavci Waterfalls, Croatia_RST011372
Ordesa Valley, Pyrenees, Northern Spain_RST085585
Milanovacki & Slapovi Waterfalls, Croatia_RST086623
O'-Sullivan's Cascade, County Kerry_RST084438
Waterfall Upper Lakes Plitvice, Croatia_RST037868
Annalong River, Mourne Mountains, County Down_RST089772
Mountain Stream, Stelvio Pass, Italy_RST031309
Derrycarna River, County Kerry_RST018327
Cascade du Pont d Espagne, Pyrenees, France_RST083800
Annalong River, Mourne Mountains, County Down_RST087241
Waterfall, Cirque de Troumouse road, Pyrenees, France_RST052237
Upper Lakes trail, Plitvice, Croatia_RST038135
Small river base of Shan Slieve, Mourne Mountains_RST085547
Bruarfoss Waterfall Brekkuskogue Iceland_RST027743
Waterfall, Tollymore Forest, County Down_RST086657
Shimna River, Tollymore Forest, County Down_RST086652
Sastavci Waterfalls, Plitvice, Croatia_RST011373