Waterfall Learning

A Segment of the Bill Forney Workshop In Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

(4th of 7 Posts from this Trip)


(Note:  Click on any of the images below to see an enlargement in a new window)

1x570-LtGreyRainier2On my recent Washington State workshop trip with Bill Fortney, Matt Kloskowski and the His Light team,  we made a one-night stop at Mt. Rainier to break up the long east-west drive across the entire state.

Rainier8Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate very much with drizzle and cloud-cover obscuring Rainier (the mountain) all but a few minutes on the morning we departed the Paradise Inn (our lodging for the night).


Rainier4But, the drive up and down did give us an opportunity to capture some streams and some wonderful waterfalls.  I haven’t done much in the way of waterfall and flowing water photography other than in abstracts, so this was a great opportunity to use some of the tips that Bill and Matt had given the group on capturing moving water.1-px-x-560-px-background-line-shim

Rainier6I’ve heard a number of rules-of-thumb for the “best” shutter speed to capture moving water in order to avoid stopping it dead.  Shooting for a slight motion-blur to give that milky streaked appearance is usually much more pleasing to the eye and conveys a stronger sense of movement.  We often hear things like the best shooting speed is 1/4 or 1/2 or 1 (seconds).  What I learned here is that the correct shooting speed for any given water situation varies quite a bit depending, of course, on the water’s speed, the pattern of its movement, and how close the camera is to the subject.

1-px-x-560-px-background-line-shim119px-Rt-Freenstanding-SlugThat shouldn’t be a surprise, but I’ve never stopped to think much about the specifics of determining each moving-water situation.  Matt’s technique, which I used on this trip, is to shoot 3-step or 4-step speed brackets (adjusting ISO to maintain the same f/stop).  Then he suggests looking at each of the bracketed frames individually to determine which results in the most pleasing and successful rendering of the water’s movement.

Rainier3Christine Fall was my favorite of our stops here.  Not only was the main fall behind and below the bridge spectacular, but there were at least three other spots each of which was terrific.  1-px-x-560-px-background-line-shimRainier7Jim Begley, one of Bill’s team leaders, pointed out a spot just upstream from the bridge before the main plunge.  The angle was extreme, but I took Jim’s suggestion to grab my widest and shoot it full 14mm wide.  With my tripod spread full-wide over the rail and braced on the adjacent vertical rock, the camera was fully out over the canyon.  Very scary to think where the rig might’ve ended up if the grip on the rock gave way and fell!  (Thank you Really Right Stuff for “The Claw”)

It took all of the 14mm width to get the entire scene.  I know it’s not a great composition due to the weird angles, but a nice opportunity to make a challenging shoot of a beautiful spot.



Falls4So, here are some other images of several falls along the way.


1-px-x-560-px-background-line-shimAlthough our stop at Mt. Rainier NP was a brief one, it did give me the first glimpse of why I’ll definitely want to go back for a much longer time, hopefully with less drizzle, grey or filtered skies, no tourists, and lot’s of water flow.  Now that’s not asking for too much is it??

Thanks for taking the time to let me share this.  Hope you’ll check out the postings for the other segments of this great workshop trip (Next 3 posts of this same date).  Thanks again, Bill, Matt and all of the His Light team for a great stop along the way!



  1. The waterfall under the bridge is quite beautiful. Great waterfall shots………..I love the way you have the water looking as it flows over the rocks.

  2. I am not sure which waterfall is my favorite. I shudder to think where you were standing, when your camera was out over the canyon taking that shot.

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