5 Tips for Capturing Beautiful Waterfall Photos

Landscape photographer Michael Shainblum is extremely experienced across a diverse range of landscape photo subgenres, including woodland, seascape, and abstract landscape photography. Among Shainblum’s favorite landscape photography genres is waterfall photography, the subject of his latest tutorial.

Shainblum’s first tip for shooting waterfalls is to use an ultra-wide lens, such as a 14-24mm or 16-35mm zoom. Shainblum recently touted the value of longer zoom lenses for landscape photography, but shooting waterfalls with a wide-angle perspective helps create immersion, especially if the photographer can stand in the water beneath the waterfall. Shainblum explains that if someone ventures into the water, they should exercise caution.

“Personally, I walk through the water cautiously, ensuring it’s not too deep or forceful. For those new to this experience, take your time to acclimate to the surroundings and gauge your comfort level. If standing in the stream feels uneasy, nature often provides logs or rocks that offer stable platforms for observation,” he writes.

Michael Shainblum waterfall photography

As for composition, Shainblum likes to point his camera slightly downward to include two-thirds or three-quarters of the ground, which creates a pathway to the waterfall itself.

“If the flow of water doesn’t naturally guide the viewer’s eye toward the falls, experiment with your positioning until you achieve a satisfying composition. This adjustment might require some patience, but the resulting image is well worth the effort,” recommends Shainblum.

His next tip is to bring out that long telephoto lens to shoot a bit of minimalist waterfall photography.

“Telephoto photography introduces a distinct departure from the previous technique. Instead of immersing yourself in the lively waterflow, opt for a serene experience on the shore. Choose a dry spot where you can comfortably enjoy the waterfall spectacle,” Shainblum explains. “With the telephoto lens, you’ll zoom in on specific details of the falls, rather than encompassing the entire scene.”

Michael Shainblum waterfall photography

With a longer lens, photographers can zero in on specific details in the scene and find intriguing colors and patterns. Shutter speed selection can dramatically impact the image’s ” feel ” as well, with a shorter speed showing more power and texture in the waterfall and a slower shutter speed offering a dreamier, soft look.

These are just a couple of ways photographers can improve their waterfall photography using two very different approaches. Shainblum delivers three additional excellent waterfall photography tips in the video above and on his blog, including finding compelling framing elements, utilizing reflections, and embracing spontaneity in the field.

Michael Shainblum waterfall photography

More of Michael Shainblum’s photography tutorials are featured on his website and more of his beautiful imagery is available in his portfolio and on Instagram.

Image credits: All images © Michael Shainblum