One Pic, Lots to Learn: Waterfall

A shot that should have been so much better

So, what’s wrong with this shot?  A lot.

First, I didn’t have a tripod.  When doing a longer exposure like this, it’s key to keep your camera steady.  Zoomed to 130mm, that’s more true than ever.  Had I been closer and using my 17mm lens, perhaps I could have gotten away with shooting this handheld for 1/20th of a second.  Here, though, I can see the lack of texture in places due to shake.  It isn’t completely evident from looking at the picture at the smaller size above, but if you could see other pics from this series, you’d see better detail in others.

Second: The rule of thirds exists for a reason. This picture has the waterfall as its focal point.  But it’s almost dead center in the frame.

The good news is, there’s so much stuff surrounding the waterfall that there are multiple crops I could do to make this a better picture just so far as rule of thirds goes.

Speaking of crop, I’d go with highlighting either the pool of water above the fall, from which the water comes, or the pool of water below the fall, where the water pours into.  I could make a case for either, but right now they both are fighting for my attention in this picture.  What would be for the best is if I could lower the camera to exaggerate the pool below the waterfall, using a wider angle lens, and then let the waterfall be almost the background object that you don’t notice at first.

The one big thing the pool above has is reflections.  Those are nice.

Also, a circular polarizer might help with some of the glare.

And how about a foreground object?  The picture almost has depth to it, but the lack of anything in the nearest part of the image flattens it out.  That bit of snow in the front left corner almost works, but it’s not enough.

After the break, a new take on this picture that I think is an improvement, though still not “great.”

Slightly Improved

Here’s a new crop of the same pic, pushing the waterfall to the upper right and giving the downwater section a little more prominence.  I like the balance of the image better now, where the  waterfall in the upper right is balanced almost by the white snowcap in the bottom left corner of the rule of thirds.  Actually, it almost looks now like all the snow in the picture is pointing towards the waterfall.

I tweaked the exposure a bit to get more detail back into the snow.  I added a bit of saturation to the image to bring out more colors in the rocks.

What ultimately kills the picture, though, is the light.  It was taken at 3:00 p.m., not nearly close enough to magic hour.  There’s just no defining light to this image.  It’s not doing anything besides sitting there.  I worked with what I had, but sometimes there’s not much you can do, aside from bringing a few lightstands and speedlites.

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