Waterfall Photography: My experience at Rainbow Falls


Rainbow falls picture
ISO 200    48mm   F/22   1/5 sec

I spent this weekend imaging waterfalls and flowing water at the KeriKeri Nature Reserve to create dreamy and fantasy inspired images of water, often seen in water photography. Whilst doing my research I noticed most photographers suggest early morning or late afternoon so to avoid the glare of the sun, in fact, some suggest going on days with overcast. Anyone who knows me knows I am not a morning person and so needless to say I was not there first thing in the morning.


  • Tripod – A MUST MUST MUST !!! – you need a tripod because we use a long shutter speed and need to keep the camera still for a period of time.
  • Camera with manual mode
  • Wide angle lens if you have one and want wide images.
  • Zoom lens for close up detailed images
  • Lenses: Canon EF 75-300mm (Wide angle) and Canon 24-70mm (Zoom)

Some photographers suggest filters but I do not have any yet. I still managed to get good results.


  • ISO to 100 or the lowest it goes. I have a Canon Mark III and so it only goes to an ISO of 200.
  • Aperture at f/22 as you do not want to blur the foreground or background.
  • Shutter speed – varies. Depending on the time of day, weather, kind of waterfall/ stream and your minimum ISO.

In general, I would say try and keep the shutter speed to under a second. The longer the shutter speed the whiter the water becomes and less detailed. It depends on what effect you want and if you mind losing detail of the water itself.



Top of Rainbow Falls
ISO 200    75mm     f/22    1/15 sec

A shutter speed of 1/15 makes for more dramatic images, as can be seen above.

For images that portray what we see with our eyes, I used a shorter shutter speed of around 1/60 and even 1/160. Just try out various shutter speeds under a second, until you find one that suits you best and have fun with it!


ISO 500    80mm    f/22     1/60 sec

ISO 200    270mm    f/22    1/15 sec


If you notice someone looking at you, invite them to have a go and share your knowledge and experience because you may have just made someone’s day. I invited a gentleman to have a go and he was so happy. He explained to me how he was describing to his wife how photographers take images of waterfalls but that he did not know how to do it. He was very happy to have been shown what to do and to use my tripod. He left with a massive smile and showed off his pictures to his wife. 🙂

All these images were taken by me and are unedited, except cropping. Read about The Kerikeri Nature reserve in my blog post:

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