Where are the Most Beautiful Waterfalls in the World?
Why do people love waterfalls and enjoy pictures of waterfalls? When it comes to waterfall landscape photography, the power and beauty of waterfalls create the opportunity for stunning photographs. Watching the water pour over rocks and cascade down is mesmerizing.
Not only can waterfalls be visually appealing, but they also play on our other senses…the roaring sound of the water cascading over the rocks; the dampness and coolness on our skin of the waterfall mist… all of these factors combine to make finding and photographing beautiful waterfalls a joy to experience.
Where are the most beautiful waterfalls in the world? Certainly, I would want to nominate these waterfalls as ones that would make a wonderful waterfall fine art print: based on my trip to Iceland one of the most famous waterfalls to photograph would have to be Seljalandsfoss, Iceland with its sweeping landscape; Multnomah Falls, Oregon which is THE iconic waterfall picture of the Columbia River Gorge; and Koosah Falls on the McKenzie River in Oregon is a waterfall photo in a beautiful forest setting.
How does a photographer take the best waterfall pictures? Ones that will make a fine art print and are visually appealing and capture the power and beauty of the moment? Waterfall photography is a balance of technique in conjunction with the photographer’s eye for beauty.
I have shared in some of my trip reports some of the challenges of taking pictures of waterfalls… such as my trip to Oregon where I had to scramble down a steep, muddy, root-filled embankment to get into just the right place to take a photograph of Koosah Falls. I was absolutely thrilled with the result and equally thrilled to make it back up the embankment to the trail.
When taking waterfall photos, the technique is very important. As I discuss in my article, Six Challenges of Photographing Waterfalls, a waterfall photographer has to decide whether to use long or slow exposure; should it be color or a black and white waterfall photograph; should the waterfall picture be taken in close range so you see the mist from the spray or from a distance? These are some of the creative questions a waterfall fine art photographer has to ask and answer. There is no one universal answer…it depends on the individual waterfall.
What makes the perfect waterfall photograph? It depends on the type of waterfall. Do you like waterfalls with one large dramatic stream with mountains in the background? Do you prefer photographs of waterfalls tucked in a forested area? Regardless of your style, my framed waterfall photos are ones that capture the elegance, drama, and energy of some of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls and would make a wonderful addition to your fine art collection.
Visiting and Photographing Waterfalls
From the Appalachian Mountains in the East to the Rocky Mountains in the West, there are plenty of waterfalls to choose from. The waterfalls in Iceland are simply stunning. I have photographed waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies and in the mountains of Patagonia.
When you’re planning a trip to an area for hiking, photography, or even just sightseeing, it's good to scope out the available waterfalls in the area to have on your potential activities list. When I was planning a trip to north Georgia, I used Google to locate Brasstown Falls just across the border in South Carolina. It was a great morning expedition.
There are more waterfalls in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and neighboring states than I could possibly ever get to. I have a pretty long list.
I have come to like those in Oregon and Washington the best due to the lush greenery that surrounds many of them. Waterfalls like Koosah Falls and Sol Duc Falls are prime examples of this. The Pacific Northwest is a great place to photograph these scenes with its rainforest-like greenery.
My approach to photographing waterfalls
There’s not much in this world that hasn’t been photographed, so almost every waterfall is one that I have previously seen a photo of. The drive or hike out and back will pretty much use up a morning’s shooting light, so having other photos to look at gives me a good feeling of what the scene will be and if the trip is a good use of time.
I also want to be sure that there will be good water flow. With some places experiencing drought conditions, waterfall photography is not going to be part of the plan. No point in going on an hour hike for a trickle.
Like any good photographer, arriving on the scene starts all the wheels grinding. What angle am I going to shoot it from, will I shoot from high or low, slow or fast shutter speed, close up or wide-angle? There are no rules, so you’re free to be as creative as you want. This is one of the great things about photographing waterfalls.
Using long exposures creates a soft feel, while a fast shutter speed showcases the power, which is useful for large waterfalls. The smaller falls have a very soothing and peaceful feeling as they cascade into a small river or stream.
Photographing waterfalls has been a learning experience for me over the years. I have come to feel that what surrounds the falls is as important, if not more important, as the falls themselves. I will continue to be on the hunt for beautiful waterfalls that I have not photographed before.
Why We Like Waterfalls
There are tangible reasons that we all like that hike to the waterfall. I remember back as a boy on family vacations doing short hikes to either an overlook or a waterfall. The waterfall hikes were always the best.
I have since learned that waterfalls release negative ions as the water crashes and explodes at the bottom of the waterfall. Well, apparently when that happens and we are near them, we breathe in these invisible ions and they enter our bloodstream resulting in an increase in serotonin. There appears to be evidence that when serotonin in increased, we feel refreshed, energetic, and happier.
For most of us, we hike a trail to get to a destination. The walk through the woods is certainly enjoyable, but its always nice to be rewarded for any task well done. Overlooks can be magnificent and I have done my share of those hikes. As you approach a waterfall, you can begin to hear it. You know you’re getting close. The roar gets louder and louder, and when you arrive. It is a beautiful and wonderful reward for your journey.
The Five Senses
Sight. There, is a lot going on with a good waterfall and your eyes are well entertained. The water may be moving slow or fast, going over a sharp edge or flowing over rocks and down a river. Your eyes can tend to tell you “Let’s sit here for a while and enjoy this!”
Sound. The sound of the water crashing from a large waterfall, like Niagra, can be almost deafening. The smaller ones can have a very soothing sound of water flowing over the falls and down the river.
Smell. Yes, there’s something about that mist from the falls that can have a distinctive smell. Who hasn’t experienced the refreshing smell of a good rainfall? The fresh smell simply bolsters the senses of sight and sound.
Touch and Taste. If we can, we reach out to feel the power of the water as it falls. We may even stand under the falls with it crashing all around us. Inevitably, you’re going to get a little taste, which in Arctic environments will be some of the freshest tasting water you will ever have the opportunity to enjoy.
It is water. As human beings, we are about 60% water. We need it to survive. We are inherently connected to it. We enjoy seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting water. A good waterfall has all of this.