The Placid Cascade
This is my favorite waterfall shot to date... Not that there have been many. It's amazing what you can find by venturing off the beaten track. This magical little torrent is located just off the main road from Queenstown to Glenorchy, about half way to Closeburn. I grew up near this area when my family first moved to New Zealand. And to this day I didn't even know it was there! I find photography to be a hugh stress relief for me. I need it... Some of my best shots have been taken as a result of me needing to get out and escape reality.
I'm a strong believer in working for your photos... Again, some of the greatest shots I have taken have cost me blood, sweat and tears in some cases. This one was a combination of all three. I ventured off into the bush hoping for a decent photo, and ended up taking a one way drop off a decent cliff and almost landing in the river. I was greeted with this scene though, and immediately thought to myself "This will be worth it!". There really is a story behind each photo, and in this case it doesn't end with me taking this shot and going home. I actually couldn't get out of the gully I had fallen into! In the end I had to cut away at various bushes with my Leatherman and take a risky climb up a slippery bank. I then decided to go downstream and see if there were any other angles worth exploring. The result of this endeavor was me getting soaked up to my waist and having to buy new shoes the next day.
But again, I think this photo is worth all the pain and frustration. I'll continue to push the envelope, its how I relax!
Not only was this a challenging location, but I was relying on a crappy old tripod at the time. I was literally holding onto the camera while it was exposing, fearful it would fall in and ruin my day.
During post, it all came together pretty easily. The biggest thing I was worried about was the dominance of green in the scene. However due to the lighting conditions it really wasn't that bad, a simple de-saturation was all that was needed.
I find that when shooting waterfalls with HDR in mind, motion is key. So keeping your f-stop up is a no-brainer, but even then sometimes the end result is a little static. That and you end up with these little 'ribbons' in the streams of water. To combat this I usually mask in the over-exposed original to enhance the motion blur. This also cleans up the whites and gives a much more aesthetically pleasing result!