Swaledale is a stunning valley with many beautiful waterfalls cascading into the River Swale such as Richmond Falls, Kisdon Force, East Gill Force, Catrake Force and Wain Wath Force to name a few. If you look on an Ordnance Survey map, it is clear to see that the surrounding area of Muker has the largest concentration of waterfalls within the Dales area.
Personally, I think waterfalls are best photographed on overcast days and in the autumn when the colour is rich and vibrant. One of the problems can often be the amount of water flowing over them, as when the rivers are in spate, there is often far too much water. One advantage of the river Swale and its tributaries is the water runs off fairly quickly, so after heavy rain the waterfalls can have a good flow after a few days which is often ideal photographically.
Many of the photographs on this post were taken with prime lenses with either 28mm or 55mm focal lengths. To create the slow water dreamy effect I used various shutter speeds ranging from 1/4th 1/8th 1/10th 1/15, and 1/20th.
In terms of filters, I use a circular polariser and either a 2 stop ND or 4 stop ND. I prefer to shoot in manual and set my ISO to 100 and use a shutter speed of 1/4th as my initial starting point. I can then take a test shot and adjust my shutter speed according to my desire of the effect I like.
I take all of my images in RAW, load them in to Lightroom to make any lens corrections, together with shadow and highlight adjustments and then export them to Photoshop for any final processing.
Below are two videos with a basic workflow for both Lightroom and Photoshop. I hope they will provide a visual illustration of how I process my waterfall images.
A few final tips, Waterfall areas are wet and slippery and although wellington boots won’t prevent you from slipping, they can help keep your feet dry and enable you to set your tripod up in locations where it would not be possible to do so without getting your feet wet. Furthermore, you will get more creative perspectives from the usual areas other photographers shoot from.