How to Create Texture in Waterfall Photos Using Photoshop

Waterfalls are a popular subject in landscape photography, although getting a great image can be a lot more difficult than you might first think. In this short video, photographer Adam Gibbs explores some of the techniques available to capture waterfalls at their most bracing and beautiful – both in and out of the camera.

Travelling to Myra Falls of Strathcona Provincial Park, Canada, Gibbs sets up his Nikon D850 on a rocky outcrop and begins to photograph the rushing water.

On Location

Going against convention, Gibbs suggests using a faster shutter speed when photographing powerful, roaring waterfalls. With a hazy mist of spray floating through the air, Gibbs highlights how combining this with backlighting can add an ethereal quality to the image.

Sun stars can also add a dazzling interest to your photos, so keep an eye out for creatively positioning them in your composition. If you’re going to try for a sun star, Gibbs reminds us to find something partially blocking the sun, and using a high aperture of around f/16 or f/22.

Moving higher up the falls, he then shoots a couple of images at faster and slower shutter speeds to be combined in Adobe Photoshop later.

Post-production

Blending multiple exposures of waterfalls is a great way to add texture, and Gibbs shows us how to do this from the snug comfort of his van. Opening up the two files together as a stack, he then sets to work on the combined image.

Using the masks function, Gibbs begins to manually brush in the finer details from the faster exposure, giving texture to the silken water of the slower image. Whether you want plenty of extra detail or just a touch, this method allows for complete control.

He also notes how it can be used to keep foliage sharp whilst the water is blurry, allowing for striking contrast in the final image.

To view more of Gibbs’ work, visit his website, YouTube, and Instagram.

If you want to learn more about photographing waterfalls, check out this tutorial.

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Ed Carr is a Yorkshire-born landscape photographer and nature writer. Having spent his youth in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, he takes any opportunity to don his hiking boots and head out, camera in hand. When not out taking pictures or hastily scribbling down his thoughts, Ed’s halfway up a hill out chasing after his dog, Hendrix.

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