Through the magic of photography, a 25 second exposure turns Athabasca Falls from a roaring torrent into a gentle and creamy stream.
In the best light…
Taken a few years ago in Yellowstone National Park, I found the falls on the Firehole River to be very picturesque. There are many more things to see in the park than just geysers. A slower shutter speed helps smooth the water into a creamy flow over the rocks in the falls.
In the best light…
Near Bow Falls
This is one of my favorite images from my morning in Banff National Park with Dave Brosha and Stephen DesRoches.
We were headed up the Maligne Lake Road when we saw a sign that read Maligne Canyon. Sherri said “What’s That?” I said “I don’t know, I’ve never been there.” Then let’s go.” she replied. So we found ourselves in a largish parking lot next to a Teahouse and what appeared to be trail heads. What caught our attention was a herd of deer in the parking lot. We took a good number of frames of the deer in their various poses. At some point I turned to my wife and asked “Is that a waterfall I hear?” We wandered toward the sound I was hearing and found a path along side of a rushing creek that had been carving it’s way into the rock below it. The patterns worn into the rock were amazing. Farther down the trail I came across a bridge over looking this falls. Of course my trusty 25 year old aluminum Manfrotto tripod was left behind in our vehicle. My beloved carbon fibre Gitzo was still waiting on parts, after breaking it at Allstones Creek on the ice. I was growing tired of the extra weight of the aluminum and thought I could get along without it on a short walk. It was darker in the slot canyon where this waterfall was located. I was worried about camera shake with a slower shutter speed with no VR on the 24-70mm. I rested the edge of the camera on the bridge and managed to pull off a sharp image. I could have run back and got the tripod but I didn’t have the energy.
D300s, 24-70mm @ 24mm, 1/80th sec, f/8.0
The Right Equipment Helps
The right equipment, assuming you are shooting a DSLR, starts with the right lens choice. I started with the 24-70 set at 24mm. Of course a tripod is a must. On an overcast day, with my ISO set to 200 (my lowest in spec) f16 was giving me exposures of 1/2 second. I wanted that really creamy look to the water, so I went with the Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo. It’s a combo filter with a warming polarizer and an adjustable neutral density filter from 2-8 stops. This brought my exposure to 15 seconds, now we’re talking smooth water. The snow above the falls was still too light and was getting blown out according to the highlight warning (blinkies) on my LCD. I got out my newly purchased Singh-Ray 4×6 Galen Rowell 3 stop hard edge graduated neutral density filter. I was surprised to find that the Vari-N-Duo has front filter threads, so I could have mounted the lens ring and filter holder, but doing so would surely have moved all of my settings on double swivel filter. So, I just handheld the grad in front of the lens. I had just heard John E. Marriott describe the technique used by Mike Grandmaison, so I tried it. I was fairly pleased with the results.