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Dingmans Falls



Dingmans Falls located in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (Pennsylvania).

Dingmans Falls located in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (Pennsylvania).
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Behind The Lens

Location
This is a picture of Dingmans Falls which is located in Dingmans Ferry, PA and is part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Time
After meeting some relatives for a New Years Eve lunch, we decided to take a drive over to see the waterfalls at Dingmans. There is actually another fall, Silver Thread Falls, that you pass walking to Dingmans Falls. It was nearing 5:00pm when we reached the waterfall and, with the short winter days, was already starting to get dark.
Lighting
Lighting is tricky. When trying for a long exposure, bright sun is not your friend. So, cloudy days are generally better for waterfall photography. Bright sun can be very harsh as well and cause shadows and high contrast. It's said that the golden hours are the best hours for lighting but that doesn't mean you can't take a fantastic shot in the middle of the day. You just need to be aware. There are a variety of different filters that can be used for shooting in bright light as well. Sometimes the shadow and contrast is what makes the photo interesting.
Equipment
This photo was shot with my Canon EOS Rebel XS and a Tamron lens. I didn't have a tripod but fortunately there is a railing at this location that I was able to use to steady the camera to take the shot in the early evening light and longer exposure.
Inspiration
I've loved waterfalls for as long as I can remember. I became a little bit obsessed with them when I learned how to slow the shutter speed on my DSLR to get that "silky water look". Every time I visit a waterfall, regardless of how many times I've already been there, I'm always taking photos and trying to get a new angle or catch it in a different light. I'm an amateur and always trying to learn something new so I'm usually trying a slightly new technique whether it's playing with long exposure settings, different lenses or hdr photography. I've had a circular polarizer almost since I got my DSLR but this past year I've been trying different things with a neutral density filter. Cloudy days are better for waterfall photography but waiting for a cloudy day isn't always an option so I've been using the neutral density filter to increase the available F-stops and also to cut down on hot spots. The ND filter wasn't necessary for this photo though since it was both a cloudy day and evening.
Editing
Since I shoot in raw I almost always have a little bit of post work to do on photos. Whether it's only giving the color a boost, sharpening the image a little, adjusting shadows/highlights or removing objects I wasn't able to avoid when taking the picture. I believe, with this photo, I adjusted shadows/highlights a little, boosted the color a little, straightened it a little and cropped it.
In my camera bag
As I mentioned earlier, I'm really an amateur, and learning new things all the time. I probably do things with my equipment that a professional would cringe at. I own a sling style camera bag with slots and pouches to hold and protect my equipment but I found it inconvenient to use. So I sort of converted one of my hiking backpacks to use for my camera as well as hold some stuff for hiking. I added a little bit of cushioning on the interior but mostly I just drop in my camera. I have been shooting mainly with a Tamron 55-250 lens but sometimes also carry a 75-300 if I'm going somewhere that I think I might need the little extra zoom length. I have a 32gb memory card in the camera which is generally plenty of storage so I don't typically carry another memory card unless I'm on a trip where I'm not able to transfer my photos to my laptop regularly. The backpack has 2 outside side pockets; in one I store 2 of 3 filters (UV, CP and/or ND - whichever aren't being used at the moment), in the other I store an extra battery and charger. In the main pouch I carry my wallet because I don't trust leaving it in the car, some first aid stuff (it came in handy recently when I rolled my ankle, then fell and scraped up my other leg pretty good), flashlight, a brush, a hairband, maybe a snack and some extra water that's been slid into a 1-gallon plastic bag to protect everything else from condensation or leaks. There's also a front pocket where I can put my cellphone and also fit some chapstick. Oh, and bug spray! I haven't gotten used to carrying a tripod. That's something I have to work on, especially if I want to improve my waterfall pictures. I have a monopod/walking stick that I bring with me and that helps a little but isn't the same as using a tripod. I like having a walking stick when hiking though so it's easier to bring that along.
Feedback
The longer exposure time used for this type of waterfall technique will really exaggerate any movement of the camera and cause your picture to be blurry so you really should use a tripod (or monopod). If you don't have either try to find something around you that you can use to steady the camera. As I mentioned, for this shot, I placed the camera on the railing and used that like a tripod. I have also, on occasion, balanced my camera on a tree branch, leaned up against the trunk of a tree or used my husband's arm/shoulder to lean the camera against to keep it steady. Make use of whatever you can find to help you keep the camera steady. Don't ever take just one shot. Take lots of shots at different focal lengths, different exposure settings, different angles, different white balance settings, etc. Unlike film, it doesn't cost any more to take multiple shots of the same thing. As they say, the biggest difference between a pro and an amateur is the number of photos they delete. So click away! Don't forget to look at the whole picture in the viewfinder. It's so easy to be so focused on the main subject that you forget to look at what else is in the frame. There may be objects that you'd rather not have in the picture that you can avoid by shooting at a slightly different angle. If you don't know what the Rule Of Thirds is then Google it. But keep in mind it's a guideline, not a hard and fast rule. Generally the Rule Of Thirds will serve you well however there are shots that will be more powerful or more effective or just nicer to look at if they don't follow this particular rule. Don't forget to look away from the camera once in a while. Don't be so busy looking through the viewfinder that you miss everything else around you. But mostly, have fun! If you're having fun while shooting it will usually show in your pictures.

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