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waterfall article
  
 
beanpkk
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · waterfall article


With waterfalls as the subject of the moment (partly my fault :-), here is an interesting fairly short article about photographing them:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/waterfalls.shtml

If you read it and look at the images therein, I'm curious if you agree with the author's assessment of improvement.

Keith



Nov 01, 2013 at 12:07 AM
beavens
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · waterfall article


Keith,

I liked the article and learned a few things (mainly that I probably overexpose the living crap out of the water).

I think the author is on point as well when he talks about not going superwide in terms of lens/crop choices.

Thanks for the read!

Jeff



Nov 04, 2013 at 05:14 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · waterfall article


The read was fine, but I really didn't agree with it as much as I anticipated I would from LL. Mostly, the notion that it is difficult to convey because of the sensory experience of being there, and the bevy of them that we are exposed to ... I think those are excuses that suggest why snapshots of waterfalls look like snapshots of waterfalls.

If we applied that to people, we could say the same thing that it is difficult to convey the experience of being around a person, and that we are perpetually bombarded by pictures of people. Yet, a good portrait photographer (which I'm not) would shoot a person in such a way to convey more of the sensory / emotive aspect of that person and would make those portraits "stand out" from the incessant snapshots and/or weak portraits that abound.

That being said, I felt like the article came up short @ advocating the "personality" that waterfalls embody differently from one another, much like people do. Some are roaring, some are trickling, some are fast, some are slow, some are skinny, some are wide, some are tall, some are short, some are freefalling, some are cascading, some face N,E,S,W, some are under a canopy, some are under open sky ... the list goes on at understanding their individual personality.

To me, this is a shortcoming that likely could account for why so many pics of waterfalls look no more special than a lackluster pic of a person looks. If we are just taking a recording of a person or a waterfall ... then we just get a recording of a person or a waterfall. Good portrait photographers do more than just record an image of a person, they craft one that aspires to convey the personality. I'd suggest the same of waterfall (or any subject matter) images.

Good portrait photographers take much time, effort, energy, study to glean how to accomplish their goals. I think the vast majority of waterfall images (that LL is referring to) lack this same discipline of approach and are much closer to recordings of a scene rather than an effort toward creating a portrait of a waterfall.




Nov 04, 2013 at 10:49 PM
TucsonTom
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · waterfall article


I can't even remember the last time I saw a waterfall -- but then I live in the desert.

I will say though that the business of shooting waterfalls to get the long exposure silky water thing has become a boring cliche.



Nov 23, 2013 at 02:23 PM
oldrattler
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · waterfall article


I tend to agree with Kent. If you are after "snapshots" they are easy to obtain. But, if you are after the essence of the image you must work the scene. I do not care how many times I see an iconic waterfall it can still evoke an emotion if done correctly. Regarding tom's comment on "silky water thing has become a boring cliche." I must agree. If being presented as artistic interpretation I have no problem. But it has , an is, being overdone (IMO). Jim


Nov 23, 2013 at 05:10 PM
 

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TucsonTom
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · waterfall article


I am thinking some more after making my grumpy comment about the "silky water thing". I liked it the first 100 times or so I saw it, then I began to get annoyed. But I have taken my own pictures of cascades in hikes in the mountains and most of them have been duds, and would have been improved by doing the "silky water thing". So I guess my thinking is that it is fine, but needs to be part of a greater whole.

Certainly one way of getting away from "cliche images" is to work the subject more, avoid a comprehensive wide angle approach, and (as the article suggests) experiment by subtracting from or adding to the image. At this stage in my game, subtracting usually yields the greatest benefit.



Nov 23, 2013 at 06:01 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · waterfall article


As a geographic corollary, the Grand Canyon has been photographed to the point that I had someone once tell me that it is "just a hole in the ground".

To the degree that we are saturated/desensitized to something is likely the degree to which we find it cliche' vs. classic. Going back to my mantra of "What's the point?" or "What is the message that you want to convey to your viewer?", the issue of how to present any subject matter (particularly those that have such strong familiarity) is often lacking a strong delivery unless it has first discerned what the intended message is.

+1 @ "Look, it's a waterfall." gets pretty old. I think the "silky water" was probably one of the first things I recall seeing that really created a draw to a waterfall beyond that of a snapshot.

But, thinking about some falls that have such power and turbulence with them, silky doesn't really convey the message of those attributes. So, again, matching our techniques and compositions to our intended message (i.e. portrait of a waterfall's personality/attributes) is important to avoid the cliche' application of "silky water" to those where it doesn't really enhance the message, but is done simply because that's what everyone tries to do.

So, whether we are photographing a "hole in the ground", a rock, a waterfall or a person ... what is it that we are wanting to say about our subject. Without knowing our message, and then crafting it accordingly ... we are just taking a recording of something that exists, and that typically becomes rather routine or cliche' moreover than inspiring.



Nov 23, 2013 at 06:28 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · waterfall article


It is very difficult to escape the feeling a waterfall image is trite because the subject has been done so often. A well made image of a waterfall is better than a snapshot, but after you've seen countless waterfall images even the best begin to seem trite... at least they do to me. Same for abandoned and weathered houses, factories, barns, and rusting vehicles and farm machinery. Finding subject not done to death with some meaning is the great challenge. My tendency is to look to the personal - things which mean something to me. The down side is they are less likely to mean anything to anyone else. To look for the world in a grain of sand may be a revelation to me, but just a piece of grit to most other folks. Haven found much inspiration of a more general appeal. Guess that's the realm of great artists.


Nov 23, 2013 at 11:46 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · waterfall article


AuntiPode wrote:
My tendency is to look to the personal - things which mean something to me.


And thus you have your message that you desire to convey to your viewers ... be that you as the viewer or others as well. Bringing the grain that captivates your attention to light in a way that conveys it to others is the challenge before us.

The down side is they are less likely to mean anything to anyone else.

To me, this is not a downside, just a reality I already know it might not be met with universal appeal, approval or understanding. But this doesn't really impede the desire to well present my message, particularly if my goal is to show others something they may not have previously given significance to. Not everyone will always understand why you have chosen to deliver your message ... but it is still our message, so we craft it for delivery as best we can.

From Christ to Ghandi to Einstein to Shakespeare to Poe to King to King ... our messages are never met with truly universal appeal, approval or understanding, but that doesn't deter those who have a message to share from sharing their message. So it is with our images ... visual messages to be delivered and received as best they can. Whatever you message is ... deliver it as best you can with the tools of our craft.



Nov 24, 2013 at 03:29 AM
TucsonTom
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · waterfall article


I think RustyBug is on the money -- figuring out what the message you want to convey sounds like a good guideline. You almost have to go all the way back and ask why you want to take a photograph in the first place. If you have your reasons straight, then it really doesn't matter if anybody else approves, or does it? Depends on your reasons I guess.

I have heard of (but not yet experienced) the phenomenon of a gang of photographers converging at a popular and classic spot -- and even heard the advice to "get there early and get the best spot". This raises all kinds of questions in my mind! I will try to avoid situations like that, probably. Why not buy a postcard, or somebody elses photo book instead?



Nov 24, 2013 at 11:45 PM





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