Waterfall Trickery

Esther BeatonLandscape Photography, Photo Critiques, Photography Workshops, Quick Tips

It’s great when you learn from your students. The last Day Safari workshop was a big fun day out. We shot wildlife in the morning and waterfalls in the late afternoon. Participants quickly understood how to use different shutter speeds to create various amounts of “silkiness” in the waterfall.┬áBut my students taught me something about these waterfalls that I never realized before: the optical illusion of size.

Most people, upon first arriving at a waterfall, try to get the whole business into the frame. After a while, aesthetics takes over and students start looking for better movement, shapes and composition. That’s when they discover that photographing only a small part of the waterfall, even a tiny section a couple of feet high, can result in just as dramatic effect as including the whole lot which could be twenty metres or more in height. Looking at the final shot, the mind can’t recognize the size of the objects: whether it’s a tree trunk or a stick, a huge boulder or a small rock. The mind interprets all of it as magnificently large. Most of the shots were really great, but it was when I saw Frances Cunningham’s that this concept clicked for me.

Thanks guys, I’ll incorporate this new knowledge into next year’s Day Safari to this location. To see the current schedule for this year’s Day Safaris, go to www.estherbeaton.com/workshops/.