Posts Tagged ‘waterfalls’

Photographing Croatia by David M. Cobb

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Photographing Croatia

By David Cobb

 Dubrovnik Night

The first time I explored Croatia was when I crossed the eastern border through the countries of Montenegro and Albania. Six years later I explored the western portion of the country arriving through Slovenia. Both times I was greeted by friendly faces, wonderful food, and beautiful scenery to photograph. On my first visit I had time constraints so I only made it as far as Dubrovnik, but the second time I was able to explore more of the country along Plivitce National Park as well as some of the towns and villages along the Istrian coast and a bit further inland.

Roof Tops

Dubrovnik is a photogenic city along the Adriatic Sea. The old town consists of many ancient churches, and its polished streets make for great reflections during night photography. Climbing the wall of the old fortress you can shoot down into the city and pick out patterns amongst the rooftops.

Plitvice Waterfalls

Plitvice Waterfalls in Fall

Along the western end of the country lies Plivitce National Park and its many lakes and waterfalls. Fall here can be spectacular, and there are so many grand waterfalls it’s hard to know where to begin photographing so just start and explore. I recommend you plan on spending more than a day here.

Inland near the Istrian coastline are a number of hilltop villages surrounded by vineyards. The small towns surrounding the ancient castles are more photogenic when you walk the stone streets—and offer views down to the surrounding agricultural fields that make for great pattern photography.

Motovun Croatia View

The Istrian Coast is beautiful too, with its beaches and cliff-side views. As always in Croatia, the towns along the coast are most photogenic and are photographed best during sunrise, sunset, and night.

Rovinj Croatia Sunrise

There is still so much for me to explore in Croatia, especially in some of the backcountry river canyons and mountain ranges. I plan on seeing and exploring more when fellow Photo Cascadia member Sean Bagshaw and I join Luka Esenko for a fall color workshop here in 2017. There are still a few spaces available in the workshop for those interested in experiencing this great area.

Tips for Photographing Waterfalls by David Cobb

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Tips for Photographing Waterfalls

By David Cobb


Last fall I spent the day with Outside Explorer in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. The finished video below supplies a number of tips and tricks to photographing waterfalls.


Tips for Photographing a Japanese Garden in Spring by David Cobb

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Tips for Photographing a Japanese Garden in Spring

By David Cobb


Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden

Recently I took a stroll through the Portland Japanese Garden to admire the cherry blossom blooms, and I took my camera along in case something caught my eye. When photographing for the book “Quiet Beauty: Japanese Gardens of North America,” I noticed the spring and fall seasons were different in the garden. The light was better, the garden seemed fresher due to recent rains, and there was much more color. Here are a few tips for photographing a Japanese garden in spring.

Get there early: The earlier the better in spring to take advantage of that beautiful light. Gardens are best to photograph in soft light, so mornings, overcast days, and sunset can bring the best light to your garden photography. Mornings are preferable because spring days can bring windy weather later in the day.

Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Watch your red channel: The histogram on the back of your camera is an average of your red, green, and blue channels. When photographing the red spring blooms of azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias you’ll need to be aware of your red channel. The average on your histogram might look fine, but your red channel could be clipped off the charts. This means you’re losing detail in the blossoms of those flowers, and when you lose detail the flowers look like sheets of color.

Morikami Museum & Japanese Garden

Morikami Museum & Japanese Garden

Backlighting: This can be the best and most dramatic light in the garden, and the most difficult to photograph. When photographing backlighting I often use a lens hood to avoid image flare, but when it’s captured correctly the backlighting adds a beautiful glow to an image.

Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant

Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant

Don’t include the sky: There are few reasons to include a sky in your garden image, unless you’re interested in a sun star or to include a fabulous sunrise or sunset. When you visit a Japanese garden or any garden, photograph the garden and minimalize the sky.

Nitobe Memorial Garden

Nitobe Memorial Garden

Photograph water features: For some reason water features in a Japanese garden seem cleaner and fresher in the spring. Maybe it’s the spring rains or maybe it’s that the gardeners have caught up on all their chores, but spring is a wonderful time to include water features.

Japanese Friendship Garden

Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

Use a polarizer: I can’t stress this enough in garden photography, and a polarizer will make or break a shot in a Japanese garden. There are a lot of reflective plants and leaves in the garden, so a polarizer will cut down on those reflections and help saturate the color of the garden image too.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Photograph blossoms by structures: There are a number of structures in a Japanese garden, so I always try to compose a few blossoms near them to give a hint of the spring season. A few flowers and a little greenery also go a long way to help soften the harsher angles and elements of a man-made structure.

Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

Change your perspective: This tip is good for any season or for any type of photography, so change your perspective and quit shooting at eye level. Crouch down, get on your belly if you need to or get high and shoot down, but change the viewpoint to create a more interesting and dynamic image.

Shofuso Japanese House & Garden

Shofuso Japanese House & Garden

Opposites Attract by David Cobb

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Opposites Attract

By David Cobb


The last week of January, I stepped out to photograph the first wildflowers to rise up on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. After so many gray days, the splash of color lifted my mood.

Color was the first thing that attracted my eye in photography. When I walked the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada in the 90s, my eyes and my trusty point-and-shoot seemed to be attracted to nothing but color. I guess that’s what started me with garden and flower photography in the first place.

So when I look for photographic possibilities, I tend to look for color and how those colors on the opposite ends of the color wheel attract each other. Whether it is a field of flowers or a sandstone arch against a blue Utah sky – I look for opposite colors to attract. Claude Monet said “Color owes its brightness to force of contrast rather than to its inherent qualities … primary colors look brightest when they are brought into contrast with their complementaries.” Look at a Monet painting and you’ll notice the cool tones in shadow next to the complementary warm ones in light. At Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France he intentionally had plants in the complementary scheme planted next to each other.  It’s a good trick to use in photography as well.  In this image of the Palouse at harvest time, I used a Singh-ray Gold-Blue filter to accentuate the colors and help those opposites attract.

When photographing flowers, it’s easy to find their opposite color on the color wheel. The two examples below feature poppies next to bachelor buttons, and a red poppy surrounded by green grass. The opposites help make each other pop.


The image below may be two boats, but what I was really thinking about was color. This was true as well with the grand landscape of Waimea Canyon on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The canyon image was less about the landscape to me and more about the interplay of those tropical greens and rich reds of the volcanic soil.


Sometimes the color just isn’t there in my images, so I paint it in later with Photoshop. The image below of Wahclella Falls in the Columbia River Gorge had some nice fall color, but it needed a little more. By going to my blue channel, I added more blue to the image and then hit: Edit>Fill>Black to bring the image back to its original form. With my brush tool, I then painted blue back into the basalt cliffs at about 6%. This subtle touch of blue gave the illusion of adding more pop to my yellows. Again, opposites attract.

Color is what brought me into photography, and it’s color that keeps me interested. By paying attention to what colors surround you and how that can be used to your advantage, you’ll become a better photographer.

The Gorge Waterfalls and Streams – My Favorites

Monday, May 21st, 2012

By Adrian Klein

As the greens in the Columbia River Gorge start really showing their spring green glow I thought I would take a few minutes and share a few of my favorites along with some technical details to help provide some insight on how they were created. I might add a part II down the road with more favorites yet I thought narrowing it down to the top three was a good start. Hopefully this helps you out whether you are planning to photograph the Columbia River Gorge or any other lush rain forest. Happy reading and viewing.


Geometric Nature - Columbia River Gorge, OR

Name: Geometric Nature
Location: Off trail deep in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Why this image? Finding the right composition in many cases is like putting together pieces of a unique puzzle, all of them different from the last. In this case the blocks or geometric shapes of the mossy rocks are what inspired me for this particular composition. There is green everywhere you turn in the Gorge yet not every image shows the endless sea of green as good as it can. I think this is one image that achieved this very well.
Camera Equipment: Canon 5D, Canon 17-40L lens, Hoya Polarizer and Induro Tripod
Camera Settings: ISO 100, Manual Focus, 19mm, f/13 and 8 seconds
Processing Software: Adobe ACR and Photoshop
Processing Details: Final image has spots of the water blended from a 5 second exposure where 8 seconds washed it out. These were blended with layer mask techniques in Photoshop. Localized adjustments for color and contrast using Levels.


Forest Rain - Columbia River Gorge, OR

Name: Forest Rain
Location: Creek along the trail to Gorton Creek Falls in Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Why this image? Standing in the cold wet rain with not a soul around is what inspired to keep me here until I captured something I was truly happy with. The heavy rains rolling through the area with water rolling off my hat, nose and camera gave the mood I was looking for. My feet completely numb after exiting the creek and my face filled with a smile knowing that I caught a keeper. I am sure this will remain near the top of my personal Columbia River Gorge favorites for years to come and remind me that although the rain can be cold and miserable, the outcome can certainly be worth it.
Camera Equipment: Canon 5D, Canon 17-40L lens, Hoya Polarizer and Gitzo Tripod
Camera Settings: ISO 200, Manual Focus, 23mm, f/16 and 3.2 seconds
Processing Software: Adobe ACR and Photoshop
Processing Details: Final image was created by blending the same RAW file several times over. The heavy overcast day allowed me to get away with only one file. These were blended with layer mask techniques in Photoshop. Localized adjustments for color and contrast using Levels. Very slight glow effect added using Gaussian Blur.


Enchanting - Columbia River Gorge, OR

Name: Enchanting
Location: Metlako Falls in Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Why this image? This waterfall has a perpetual fog cloud hanging over it for what seems like 365 days a year. That alone is beautiful yet when you have been here as many times as I have you are looking for more to take out the camera. When I saw the sun was trying to poke through I knew this was the “more” I was looking for. It did not last long however it was the inspiration I needed to make a more unique image from this popular location. Many say winter streams and falls images are not nearly as nice as spring. This image proves all season have potential. This was taken on a quiet winter morning when I was the only one around.
Camera Equipment: Canon 5D, Canon 70-200L lens, Hoya Polarizer and Gitzo Tripod
Camera Settings: ISO 100, Manual Focus, 73mm, f/18 and ¼ of a second
Processing Software: Adobe ACR and Photoshop
Processing Details: With this scene I had about 4 stop range of exposure from the dark areas to the sunlit fog. This required parts of three images to be merged together. These were hand blended with layer mask techniques in Photoshop. Localized adjustments for color and contrast using Levels.

You can find more of my work from the Columbia River Gorge and beyond at Adrian Klein Photography

Tips for Photographing in the Rain

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Tips for Photographing in the Rain

By David Cobb

So what if it rains? This is the Pacific Northwest after all and rain is part of life here. I guess that’s why I have a plan B and C during my workshops, to take care of such eventualities. Last weekend was “Dave’s Worst-Weather-Ever Workshop” along the northern Oregon and southern Washington coastlines. The rain and wind storms were pretty bad. A lot of people thought the sun came with me for all my workshops, and I was getting pretty cocky after continually seeing the clouds part at the beginning of a session and close up when it ended. In lieu of staying indoors a bit more and concentrating on processing (which we did), here are a few photo tips for when it rains along the Oregon and Washington coastlines. (Canon and Nikon seal their cameras pretty well, other makers seal them tightly to not-so-much, so know how well your camera does before taking it out in the rain.)

1) Carry a good camera bag and rainfly: I have to admit I love the back access on the f-Stop camera bags during a rainstorm. I just set the bag down on the wet sandy beach, rainfly side down, and access all my equipment. When I put the pack back on my back, the muddy side is on the outside and the clean side is against my back. That way my rain jacket keeps me dry a lot longer. A good rainfly for your camera bag can be picked up at any outdoor store.

2) Use a rain cover for your camera: I often opt for the cheap grocery store plastic bag version with a hole cut in it, but there are a whole host of good camera rain covers out there. Simply Google “camera rain cover” and you’ll have a variety to choose from. They vary from the cheap homemade versions like mine to the bomb-proof Think-Tank Hydrophobia.

3) Find a sea cave: Sounds simple doesn’t it? The other day during a rain storm on the Oregon coast, I just wandered into a really cool cave and let my eyes adjust. Watch for the tides, but otherwise you can work for hours coming up with some interesting compositions while staying dry.

4) Bring an umbrella: An obvious point, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t bring an umbrella along while photographing.

5) Stay in your car and photograph abstracts through the soaked windshield: A couple of people did this during the last workshop at a harbor and they got some fantastic results. The last time I used this technique was from a taxi cab in Albania, and I wish I had remembered to do it for the harbor shots this time around.

6) Go to a bunker: There are World War II bunkers all over the coastline, and they really have quite a bit of character with their rusty doors, stark hallways, old ladders, and walls filled with moss and lichen. Best of all, they make a great wind break and are not only bomb-resistant, but rain-resistant too.

7) Point your lens downward: I use my lens hood not only for sun protection, but rain protection. During those dreary winter days, I’m less likely to look for the grand landscape and more likely to look for the small scene. I often start to think and see in black and white too. By keeping my lens pointing down, I keep it free from those pesky rain drops.

8) Go to the forest: The coastal forest is a great place to shoot on a rainy day. The trees block the wind, keep me drier, and the forest light can be amazing or moody.

9) Dry off your gear: I carry a facecloth in my bag and I’m constantly giving my camera a pat down and dry off. I make sure I do this at the end of the shoot when I put my camera away, and I do it again when I go back inside. I also extend my tripod legs when I return inside and give them a wipe-down too.

There you have it. The next time it rains, quit your whining and head for the coast – I’ll be there with a smile on my face and staying dry.

Let There Be Night

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Let There Be Night

By David Cobb

Night photography is nothing new; the technique has been around for as long as there’s been a camera to produce it. With advancements in digital photography however, night photography has taken on new possibilities for nature photographers. On still evenings, I’ve pulled some interesting and vibrant colors out of shooting digital. Water tends to get bluer and warm tones tend to become richer and warmer. I took the following photo just below Whitehorse Falls in southern Oregon, and you aren’t likely to be able to tell that it was almost pitch black outside. The added side effect to taking this image at night is the cobalt blue color of the Whitehorse River that my daytime images never had. This plays well with the surrounding warmer fall color. If it had been taken in the daytime this image would look much different, and I prefer the nighttime effects it has here.

A few tips about nighttime nature photography:

  • I usually use an aperture around f11 to f5.6 to cut down on the shutter speed
  • I turn on my noise control in-camera to cut down on the noise, so a freshly charged battery is a good idea
  • I don’t use a polarizer at night, since I find it helps little towards the photograph’s finished product
  • A sturdy tripod and cable release is required


The image of Fall Creek Falls below was recently taken while visiting Mt. Rainier National Park. I didn’t get to this falls until well after dark, but there was still some light bouncing off the atmosphere above. I kept the shutter open for 30 seconds at f11, and to my surprise this nighttime shot took on the look of daytime. As usual, the water went a bit blue, and I warmed up the surrounding landscape to play off the blue hue. I also like the highlighted tips of evergreen when I photograph in a forest at night; they almost glow in comparison with the rest of the tree. I would normally use a polarizer on a waterfall to cut down on distracting reflections, but again, at night I don’t find that necessary.

Of course there is always light painting for the nature photographer. The image below is made up of two shots. One taken at 1600 ISO and 30 seconds to capture the starlight without movement, and with the other I light painted the Utah Rocks for 30 seconds while shooting at 100 ISO. The two images were later blended for the effect. The “painting” wasn’t applied directly to the rock, but flashlight bursts were shot around the rock and into the night sky. A similar technique was used for the Bandon, Oregon sea stacks, but in this case I only needed one image since the lights of town lit the stacks for a nice effect.

City landscapes are always fun to photograph at night. They’re certainly not “nature photography,” but hey “when in Rome…” Actually, the image taken below was in Dubrovnik, and when I noticed they polished their streets every morning I couldn’t wait until night to capture the hustle-and-bustle of city life. This image was taken at f5.6 for .6 seconds, to capture the movement that lends to the lively atmosphere.

Night possibilities for the nature photographer are endless, from star trails to moonbows. And once you get used to keeping the camera out in the dark, by sunrise you might be thinking “now what am I going to do?”

Photo Cascadia’s Waterfall Favorites

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

By the Photo Cascadia team

Before the Photo Cascadia group takes a short break for the holiday season, we’d like to share a few photos of our favorite waterfalls from around this region called Cascadia.

Zack: Wahclella Falls has been a favorite of mine since I was a teenager. It’s not nearly as crowded as some of the more popular trails, and it’s one of the most beautiful falls in the Columbia River Gorge. I particularly like the view from up high, but there are a couple other good vantage points as well.

Zack: My favorite waterfall in the Gorge is Fairy Falls. It’s also my favorite teaching spot in the Gorge. It’s the best example of how slow-shutter speed affects the look of an image—and you can zoom in for many abstract compositions of the falls. It’s a steep (but relatively short) hike up Wahkeena Creek, but definitely worth the effort.

Chip: “Palouse Falls Sunset” is my title for this dramatic sunset sky over Palouse Falls in eastern Washington State.

Chip: “Mossy Elowah” is the title for this misty capture of one of my favorite waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.

Kevin: This foggy-day photo was taken in autumn at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. I had seen this waterfall before and it can be difficult to shoot in terms of composition. Positioning myself at the vantage point seen here in this photo was somewhat dangerous, but it was worth it. I was also lucky to be there just as the sun was breaking through.

Kevin: Myrtle Falls is an iconic waterfall located in Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park in the Paradise area. I like this waterfall because it shows the majesty of Mount Rainier and its surroundings. To get this photo I had to stitch two images vertically to better capture depth and sharpness.

Adrian: “Enchanted” is the title for this image of Metlako Falls in the Columbia River Gorge on a chilly still winter morning as sunlight pierces its way through the thick fog. I have photographed this scene many times with only fog, but this was the first time I was able to include sunbeams. It’s one of my favorite Gorge photos.

Adrian: “Forest Rain” is the title to this Columbia River Gorge shot of Gorton Creek in the cold spring rain. For me, it’s not only the flow of the image that works (pun intended), but also the falling rain. It adds additional mood and feeling to the scene that would not be there otherwise.

David: I loved photographing Outlet falls along the Klickitat River of southern Washington, because it is so dramatic and remote. There is no “official” parking area for this falls and no directional sign. A steep descent gets you to the bottom of the canyon, and some added fall color brings out the best in these falls.

David: Salt Creek Falls is another favorite of mine, located in southern Oregon in the midst of the Cascade Range. There are a few view points for this waterfall, but I prefer a bushwhack to the bottom for this front-on view.

Sean: Since I’m based out of Ashland, Oregon that means I don’t have the quick access to the well-known waterfalls of Silver Falls State Park and the Columbia Gorge that the guys from the north do. While the waterfalls of the southern rivers, the Rogue, and the Umpqua aren’t as numerous or as grand, there are still some very beautiful cascades. Best of all, there aren’t the crowds of people that you get in the upper part of the state.

Near Union Creek on Hwy 62, the Rogue River spills into the narrows of the Rouge Gorge in a series of rapids and short drops, with one final big plunge. I love photographing at this Gorge because there is a lot to see in a condensed area. Over time, the river has carved a deep channel in the volcanic basalt and connected a series of lava tubes to create the gorge. The resulting eroded rock formations make excellent foreground elements. At the top of the gorge, the river fans out over the basalt and spills into the narrow chute in multiple locations. There are many different compositions that can be made from various spots along the rock shelf next to the river.

Light at the Rogue Gorge can be challenging, and I waited several years to get my chance to be there during this spectacular sunrise. The bright red and orange sky shed a warm glow across the entire scene and completely transformed it. Using a polarizer helped cut reflections and saturate the color on the rocks. I don’t know if I’ll ever get another chance to photograph the Rogue Gorge with light like that, but that one experience is etched in my memory.

Sean: Another favorite waterfall of mine is Triple Falls in Montana’s Glacier National Park. I first became aware of this falls from Galen Rowell’s iconic image of it. In a high alpine bowl, several small creeks converge and drop over the edges of a narrow canyon carved out of the red stone commonly found in Glacier. With sheer Rocky Mountain peaks as a backdrop, it is a uniquely beautiful natural formation. The falls isn’t located on a trail, nor is it marked on any maps that I have seen. In order to reach it by sunrise requires a cross-country hike through grizzly country in the dark. The day we photographed it, David Cobb and I walked cautiously through the pre-dawn gloom. We stuck to patches of snow and exposed rock so as not to walk on the delicate alpine foliage. We were sure that every boulder and bush along the way was a bear. We arrived just before sunrise and prepared for the light to come. Earlier in the summer when the snow is melting, there are three distinct waterfalls that plunge into the canyon. When I photographed it in the autumn, one of the falls was nothing more than a trickle so my image is titled “Double Falls.” The stormy sky that morning added shadowy dramatic light to the scene. At that time of day, the sky was so much brighter than the depths of the canyon that two exposures needed to be blended in order to contain the wide dynamic range.

There you have it, a few of our favorite waterfalls from Cascadia. We’ll be back with more blogs and information in the New Year, so until then have a happy Holiday season, from all of us at Photo Cascadia.