If I had to pick a photography genre over any other then it would no doubt have to be waterfalls. There is just something magical about them. Whether the result of an earthquake, landslide, glacier, or a volcano terraforming the landscape.
The majority of the popular waterfalls around the UK are within walking distance with some even viewed from the roadside. For me personally, the buzz is the hiking adventure to find a waterfall that is not all over social media. Selfishly, this allows me to take my time to create the photos I want without someone else being in the picture!
Waterfall photography also allows you to hone in your skills. There is so much information out there on the technical aspects including preferred settings for the duration of capture. I’ll be honest though, I don’t focus too much on the settings but more on the experience of the capture and the end result – the photo.
The beauty of modern day cameras is you can delete a picture instantly and try again. Now I’m not saying I just go in and take a shot regardless of what my shutter speed is etc. I have that basic understanding of what is required to capture that silky smooth water effect…I just don’t sit there with an app that tells me how long to expose based on ND filter strength. What speeds the process up for me is to have my camera set-up for shutter priority. I’ll be in manual, place the ND filter I feel is suitable for the scene then, adjust the shutter speed to bring the histogram in to a neutral position. The camera now tells me how long the exposure will be and I will adjust the shutter speed accordingly depending on how creative I want to be with the photo.
Photography, as with art in general, is all subjective. I’d like to think my approach has created some smooth, silky looking waterfalls. Are they perfect? Of course not! If I was to use the arbitary 10,000 hour rule of practice to become an expert then…I have a seriously long way to go!
Hindhope Linn Waterfall – Kielder Forest
Forest England state on their website that Hindhope Linn is a spectacular waterfall in a quiet, enchanting dell. I couldn’t agree more.
To access the trail, follow the forest road past Blakehopeburnhaugh Farm. Take the path overlooking Blakehope Burn and the magical waterfall. Other features of the walk are the areas of old Scots Pine and larch, living reminders of the ancient forest of the area.
Blakehopeburnhaugh is at the northern end of the Kielder Forest Drive and is the starting point for the Hindhope Linn walking trail. Here you will also find two picnic areas, a toilet block (open April-October) and access onto the Pennine Way long-distance footpath. Directions taken from Forestry England website which can be found here https://www.forestryengland.uk/hindhope-linn/hindhope-linn-kielder-forest.
I’ll be honest. At first I felt a little underwhelmed once I reached the waterfall. It was a lot smaller than I imagined (based on a few photos I seen on the web) and not much power. However within five minutes of being immersed in the enchanted looking forest surroundings it has become one of my favourite places to visit. It also made me realise that there is much more to waterfall photography than the waterfall itself.
I felt from a compostion point of view that the three photos below were the best I could produce based on the conditions and time of year I visited. Late Autumn and the sun is just a little bit too low. I think maybe in the summer with the sun being higher up in the sky that you might be able to capture a sunburst/sunstar through the trees above the waterfall. Nevertheless, I do like how they have turned out and have recently sold the third photo with a great review.
This was my first visit to this area. You park up and it’s literally a 5-10 minute walk from the car park. I’d come straight from Crammel Linn Waterfall so only had a couple of daylight hours left before it got dark. Therefore, it didn’t give me much time to explore my surroundings fully. I decided to wander for a bit to see what else was around and came across this bridge crossing where I found another waterfall. Standing on this bridge and looking back towards the water cascading over those rocks you will see Hindhope Linn in the distance. I didn’t get chance to try this composition based upon the available light but I will definitely be back here again soon.
Hindhope Linn has so much to offer. I think if you can get here during the summer and autumn you’ll will come back with completely different photos yet both equally stunning. This is one location that certianly didn’t disappoint.
Scaleber Force Waterfall – North Yorkshire
The next waterfall on my list is the stunning Scaleber Force. Remember in my brief introduction that some waterfalls can be viewed from the roadside? Well although this technically can’t be viewed from the roadside it can be definitely heard. Not only that, park in the lay by and cross the road, over a stile and you’re there. It’s literally that close to the road!
These are more specific directions provided by: https://www.visitsettle.co.uk/scaleber-force.html
Visitor access to the waterfall and woodland is via the minor road (High Hill Lane) to the north of the woodland and falls.
There are two pull ins on the roadside adequate for two cars.
Two stone step-over stiles lead into the woodland, an un-surfaced path running from the better used stile to the west, leads along the top of the limestone outcrop above the falls.
An improved (though very narrow and steep) stepped path leads down to a small viewing point from where there are good views up to the waterfall.
I came across this waterfall by chance really. I was visiting my daughter who was at Leeds University at that time and looked for somewhere to hike. This came up so thought we’d take a look. This was in November and all the trees had pretty much lost their foliage so it just didn’t feel like a good composition.
These photos were taken in October 2021. Just shows what difference a month can make in terms of foliage. Although we have had a bit of an extended summer which seems to have delayed the Autumnal fall. I really like the balance between the trees still having their summer colours yet the ground is scattered with autumnal colours.
Scaleber Force Waterfall has probably about three maybe four ‘layers’ to it from a composition point of view. The main picture is what I would consider the ‘top’ layer. In fact, to get this composition I had to climb up the huge ledge which you can’t see in the photo. There is a ‘stone’ path I believe that will bring you to this level. However, the ground was pretty saturated and muddy so didn’t fancy using the bank as a slide with my camera gear in tow!
I do like this composition and feel it’s the most ‘complete’ of Scaleber Force. The flow was just right to separate the water in to sections. The only thing I wished was that boulder ‘mid left in photo’ wasn’t there. It was too much of a distraction and just couldn’t quite get the composition without it in the photo. If you want just the main fall then it’s doable. I just really like the main fall with the two smaller one’s in front.
On the above image, this composition cuts out the main section of the waterfall. I would put this as it’s third layer. I love the way you glance across from this angle and just capture some of the sunshine highlight the background a little. However, I can’t make out whether I’ve captured part of my tripod in the water or one of the many branches around!
Whereas on the below image, this composition is at the same third layer but with me moving to the left a little. I wanted to see if I could capture more of the waterfall layers. You can just make out the main waterfall ever so slightly in the distance. You can see the second layer and obviously the third.
I have a couple of these in my shop in colour and black and white should you wish to purchase any.
Crammel Linn Waterfall – Northumberland
The largest falls in Northumberland, which sit on the river Irthing. The river itself acts as a border between the county of Northumberland, and the county of Cumbria. My Sat Nav was playing up so I got a little lost looking for this beautiful waterfall. I foolishly followed the sign that said ‘no access to Crammel Linn’. I thought this notice was to do with the hidden fighter jet (spoiler alert: it’s not that hidden!). But, no, it was a farm track I followed for about a mile when I realised it didn’t look like the map I’d perused before my Sat Nav went haywire.
When you finally reach the parking bay it looks like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Clearly you are on RAF Spadeadam property but you are fine to go as far as this parking bay. When you are there it’s pretty much straight forward. Follow the signs and you will slowly start to hear the water.
I always try to research where I’m going to be aware of anything important such as access etc. I’d heard about the chaos during the 2020 COVID pandemic where nearly everyone had come here for a picnic, parked irresponsibly and left all their trash. In doing so, they have spoilt it for the rest of us who have a bit more respect. Why am I telling you this? Well, the whole waterfall is fenced off and there is a locked gate to the waterfall. On the day I came this gate was open but I could clearly see the chain and lock. I wasn’t aware of this through my research so wasn’t sure if it was a managed entry? Or whether the land owner was doing some checks? So I precariously made my way down to the waterfall awaiting to be shouted at but no-one was around. Please bear this in mind if you plan to visit as I wouldn’t want to upset the locals by suggesting the place is open to tourists when in fact it may not be.
Aside of this, the weather was really kind with the sun sitting low based upon the time I arrived. I imagine on a late summer evening the sun would reflect off the main waterfall and produce some stunning colours. These photo’s were taken in October where the trees still had most of their foliage with a few autumnal scatterings on the ground.
These are pretty much the best compositions angles I could attain with my wide angle lens. Had I brought my 16-55mm with the ND filters then I could have move further back and captured a slightly different angle. I did try and see if there was a composition from the other side of the river. I walked up to the top and about 100 or so metres away was a small drop to the river where it was doable to cross over if it hasn’t rained much and you’ve brought your wellies! I hadn’t. However, from what I could see it looked a bit tricky to get round enough to get any worthy composition. It’s probably why when you see images of Crammel Linn Waterfall on the internet they are all pretty much the same composition.