Several years ago, I set out to photograph the magnificent beauty of Olympic National Park. This was my first big photography trip, and I was ready to make it an amazing success. I spent $5000 on gear and more than $2000 on travel arrangement. I trained my body to handle difficult conditions – running and working out a few times a week so I would be strong and ready.
I was confident – and convinced that with all that great gear, I was going to get a whole collection of amazing photographs.
And then reality set in. I spent two and a half hours taking photos of a Sol Duc Falls… but I just couldn’t get the shot I hoped for. My photos were terrible. I walked away frustrated – and convinced that shooting this waterfall was impossible. It simply couldn’t be done.
…And then I walked into the gift shop. And there it was. The same waterfall that had gotten the best of me. A perfect photo. Gorgeous in every way.
I had my tripod, and my expensive camera and lenses, and I’d come such a long way, and worked out so diligently – and I couldn’t get the shot. But someone had done it… so it could be done. But how?
Equipment doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to use it.Jay Patel
Knowledge matters.Click to Tweet
I spent the next three years working to improve my photography. And ultimately, I returned to Sol Duc Falls and got the shot I wanted.
But I wish I’d known then what I know now.
Equipment doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to use it. Knowledge matters. I wish I’d known that before I poured all that money into gear and travel.
Instead of buying tons of gear, I should have been investing in knowledge.
Here are three simple tips that I use all the time while shooting waterfalls
- Try to shoot when the waterfall and the surrounding area is completely in shade – or on an overcast day.
- Use a circular polarizer to help minimize glare on the surface of the water and wet rocks.
- Mist is often a problem near waterfalls. Protect your lens and wipe it with a soft cloth regularly. Water spots will ruin a perfectly good composition – and sediments from the falls can coat and even damage your lens.
If you’re at all interested in becoming a better landscape photographer, learning from the Patels should be high on your list of educational resources. Everything they do is great. Check it out yourself.