For a long time, I’ve been thinking to shoot some long exposures of flowing water like a waterfall. I especially like the peaceful mood it creates around your image.
A little bit of googling shows me a couple of interesting locations in my local area and the Josefsthaler Waterfall seems to be the most easily accessible one for me to start with.
The Josefsthaler Waterfall is located in a small Bavarian town called Josefsthal, obviously. ;) It’s a 1.5 hrs drive from Munich, bypassing some excellent local scenery, namely the popular relaxing place - Schliersee.
You can park your car right before the road turns to gravel. From there it’s a leisure 10 mins walk along a little stream, into the forest.
Minimal people in the landscape
The idea of my first shot is to capture the waterfall on a large scale while having one person (that’s me :P) standing in front of it, to create a scale comparison. It emphasizes the massive landscape by putting a tiny human into the scene to give a bit of loneliness but powerful feeling to the reader.
I’ve first learned this technique from the talented Dutch mountain photographer - Max Rive. I’m sure the technique exists long before but the pictures taken by Max Rive using this technique are absolutely breathtaking.
For the shutter speed, I found 0.4 seconds is good enough to smooth the water flow while capturing a sharp person at the same time. Of course, I can also take two shots, with and without a person, then bend them together in post processing. But I’m a lazy guy, so I’ll try to capture the image I want in the field as much as I can.
To take the shot, I was trying to hold still as much as possible, but I have no influence on my little daughter’s behavior. So to increase the chance of success here is another technique I’ve learned from Max Rive:
Set your camera with an intervalometer to continuously capture images every few seconds and take as many of them as needed to be able to pick a satisfied one in the end.
In this way, you can trigger the camera and take the time to pose at the position you want. You may even try different position, different pose. That’s exactly what I did and it works like a charm.
The typical landscapes
Back to the typical shots. I was desperately trying to find an interesting foreground, but with lots of dead woods lying all over the scene, it’s not an easy task.
My second shot was taken roughly 20 meters away from the waterfall. There I found some rocks tightening the stream that could be used to create the same smooth water flow effect.
In the meanwhile, the sunlight has penetrated clouds and lights up the trees on the left, created a nice warm cast.
However, I was still not convinced by the foreground composition. I walked further away and found another, more interesting composition. This time I found a tiny “waterfall” that forms a perfect leading line to its background bigger brother.
I set my shutter speed down to 2 seconds to have the foreground water pop out a bit more and I’m pretty satisfied with the result.
It was the shot that concluded my day.