Photographer’s Notebook: Photographing Moving Water

Quarry Falls on the Callasaja River, North Carolina. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

Quarry Falls on the Callasaja River, North Carolina. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

This area of western North Carolina is simply gorgeous, and a big part of the beauty lies in all the moving water here. There are literally hundreds of waterfalls in the area, many of which are within an easy mile’s walk from a trailhead. So I’ve spent these last few days hiking and photographing, seeking out some of the more spectacular examples for my camera.

Which brings me to the subject of this post: waterfalls are damned hard to photograph! Not the obvious shot: water over rocks, slow shutter speed, a bit of processing bump to the saturation. This becomes boring very quickly. But like all things we attempt to shoot, how do you make your own unique photographs of these beautiful things?

Full Swirl, Quarry Falls, North Carolina. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

Full Swirl, Quarry Falls, North Carolina. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

For me, the answer, as always, lies in slowing down. Way, way down, and trying to see. Isn’t this the hardest part, always? It’s no different with my subject this week. I must really look, watch, and look some more, before I start to see things my way. Then the photographs start to come.

I think this generalizationapplies to a lot of the photography we all attempt. Without vision, no truly great images emerge. And vision always starts not with the camera, but in your mind’s eye. Nurture that vision and great photography will begin to happen.

Vortex #1, Callasaja River, North Carolina. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

Vortex #1, Callasaja River, North Carolina. The most personal image of the three. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Posted in: Gallery

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

11 Comments on "Photographer’s Notebook: Photographing Moving Water"

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  1. Carrie Lee says:

    These are my absolute favorites of all of your photos.
    Really lovely.
    Thank you so much for sharing them.

  2. Enivea says:

    That vortex shot is fabulous Andrew! A fantastic lesson on nurturing vision!

  3. Thanks, Enivea. This has been a great week of shooting.

  4. Nice! Thanks Carrie Lee.

  5. I love the first shot of Quarry Falls. The water seems to light up. I don’t have much opportunity to shoot water as I live in the desert southwest. But I’m planning a trip to Yellowstone in the fall and need to brush up on my waterfall skills.

  6. Thanks Ocie! I’ve never seen Yellowstone but it’s on my list. Good luck with that trip.

  7. Albin says:

    Obviously you are an accomplished photographer, but I can’t like the current fad for these Smooth Water (compare Smooth Jazz) shots, which are all over the place last year or so. They somehow bring to mind instant mashed potatos.

  8. Mashed potatos? Ok…that’s certainly a new way of seeing! But this is hardly a ‘fad’: long exposures have been around for as long as photography. Nothing new, just a way of interpreting what’s in front of us.

  9. Donnie says:

    That vortex shot is fabulous Andrew!

  10. Ana Matos says:

    Vortex #1 is very interesting and abstract at the same time, the proximity to the subject(s) here was something new to me!

  11. Kristen says:

    Hi Andrew,
    You have a great talent in photography. All your photos are perfect. You have a great sense in capturing this wonderful scenery.

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