This study of waterfalls began with the question “why I don’t like waterfall pictures?”
For the most part I speak of those silky-smooth shots that are sometimes over saturated that to some [me] feel cute like those terrible kitten pictures that appear to garner high favs on the various social media sites.
Likes and dislikes are rarely universal or absolute. Based on the assumption that I dislike all waterfall pictures, here I explore a series of shots and look for characteristics that compensate or offset what I dislike. By identifying compensating measures that minimise or offset those negative elements, I do two things:  I clarify the characteristics I dislike  I build a suite of compensations.
While individually a compensation may not add sufficient weight to the like-side of the scale to bring the balance positive, at least the deficit is reduced. It is hoped that these steps will be cumulative and as such may be applied together and their total weight will result in more palatable outcomes.
I came to conclude that there are compensation I could apply that at minimum would result in a generally more tolerable waterfall shot. As such the goal going forward will be to make images that incorporate one or more of these compensations, as noted below:
- Black & white makes things better.
Why? Black and white tends to simplify (which can already be a complicated composition). By removing the colour it removes one element of distraction from the picture. This results in tending to emphasize the texture of the shot which in turn can be used to manage the overwhelmingly sickly silkiness of a composition if managed properly.
- Contrasting hard and soft
The silkiness of the waterfall can overwhelm a shot with its softness; it’s just too smooth. I found it important to balance this with hardness, of rock, or some texture.
This is about finding the right proportion of soft and hard. I’m not sure there is a set ratio; it is likely related to the desired mood.
- Light and Sparkle
These shot, like all other, benefit from good light. I found those that let out the sparkle of water or did not blow out the silk were more satisfying. Backlighting helped as well and could provide an etherial sense.
Over the next entries, I post a series of waterfall shots from a recent trip to Ithaca New York. For the most part they are those silky-smooth style shots that I prefer to avoid. There is something I dislike about them; I can’t put my finger on exactly what I dislike, but I do.…