photo by Gudella via iStock
If you’re finally planning a photography vacation (after a long, long year being stuck indoors), you may need to check your gear to figure out if you have everything you’re going to need.
Every type of vacation will require different types of gear, but I think that a lot of photographers go to visit tropical areas for their photography vacations. Why wouldn’t you? There’s an abundance of wildlife, beautiful and colorful plants, and plenty of places for your kids to explore too.
If you’re visiting somewhere tropical this year, then chances are you are going to need to learn how to photograph waterfalls. And, if you’re going to be photographing waterfalls, then you need to check to make sure you have all of the waterfall photography gear you could need.
Thankfully, my waterfall photography gear list isn’t much different from other lists I already have established for beach vacations. So, even if you don’t think you have any waterfall photography gear, you probably do and won’t need to buy more than one or two pieces of gear before your vacation.
In preparation for your waterfall photography, here are seven must-have pieces of waterfall photography gear.
DSLR or Mirrorless Camera
photo by ablokhin via iStock
You obviously can’t shoot waterfalls without the most important waterfall photography gear: a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
If you don’t have a camera, don’t worry. All you need to do is look for a DSLR or mirrorless camera that allows you to change the shutter speed and shoot your photos manually. While you could photograph waterfalls with a camera in automatic mode, they just won’t come out as well.
Once you’ve found your camera, make sure that you understand how to shoot in RAW format. Most cameras will assume you want to shoot in JPEG unless told otherwise. Since RAW photos allow you to make non-destructive edits during the editing process, this is what you will want to have.
Don’t worry about spending a ton of money on a camera if you don’t already have one. But, at the same time, recognize that this piece of waterfall photography gear will translate over to every other type of photography you want to do. So, get something that has the specs and features that allow you to learn and grow with it over many years.
Wide Angle/Telephoto Lens
photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock
The next piece of waterfall photography gear you need is either a wide-angle or a telephoto lens.
If you’ve admired other waterfall pictures before, then those photos were likely taken with a wide-angle lens. A wide-angle lens (generally a 16-35mm on a full frame camera) is used for a lot of waterfall shots because it allows you to capture some of the foreground of your photo, as well as the waterfall.
But, you can also use a telephoto lens, like a 70-200mm, if you’re more interested in getting a close up shot of a particular part of a waterfall or if you are going to be shooting a waterfall that you aren’t going to be able to get close to.
When making your decision, keep it in mind that a wide-angle lens is a lot smaller, so it’s much easier to carry around with you all day. Most wide-angle lenses are also going to be cheaper than most telephoto lenses, if budget is a priority for you.
A Water-Resistant Bag
Of course, you'll want to carry your camera and lens in a bag that offers your gear protection from the mist created by waterfalls...
If you have a small kit, the HEX Ranger Crossbody is an ideal solution as it has 1.5 liters of capacity. Inside, you'll find soft-touch fleece and EVA foam padding to protect your gear, while the exterior is comprised of Cordura and ballistic nylon for durability.
Speaking of durability, the strap is made of surplus-grade nylon webbing and the expedition style buckle hardware will stand up to long-term wear and tear.
Add in a front zipper pocket with mesh storage for small items, a magnetic-closure rear pocket, and good looks, and you have the ideal bag for exploring your favorite waterfall!
photo by nicolamargaret via iStock
It’s really frustrating to see so many people at places like Yellowstone shooting waterfalls without tripods. So, if you ignore all of the other recommendations on this list, make sure that you add a tripod to your waterfall photography gear.
Tripods allow you to take shots with longer shutter speeds. So, if you want to take a photo of a waterfall where it looks as if the water is beautifully blurry as it cascades down, you will want a tripod to do so.
Tripods can get really expensive, but you don’t need a really expensive tripod. You only need a tripod that will keep your camera steadier than you can.
A Camera Canopy
When you take a look at your waterfall photography gear, it’s not only important to be thinking about what you’ll need to get great shots of the waterfall, but to think about ways to protect your camera from water.
Whenever you’re getting close enough to a waterfall to photograph it, you’re likely exposing your camera to falling water as well. Since your camera is your most important and most expensive piece of gear, you want to protect it from getting damaged in this way.
A Camera Canopy will allow you to protect your camera from falling water. It is essentially a shield that you attach into your camera’s hot shoe.
The Camera Canopy comes in two sizes: one for a DSLR camera and one for a mirrorless camera. The regular sized Camera Canopy is $88, while the Mini Camera Canopy is $60. Either way, it’s a small price to pay for protecting your most important piece of gear.
As an added bonus, Camera Canopy is a small company and by purchasing from them you are helping to support the photography community.
A Polarizing Filter
photo by Алексей Филатов via iStock
Polarizing filters should also be a part of your waterfall photography gear because it helps you to get rid of glare in your images. Polarizing filters are especially helpful for boosting contrast and allowing you to see down into the water as well.
Since you likely won’t know what the weather will be like on the day you’re shooting, and since polarizing filters are dirt cheap, it’s easiest to just have one on hand.
A Shutter Release
photo by SOMKHANA CHADPAKDEE via iStock
The final piece of equipment you need on your waterfall photography gear list is a shutter release. Like a polarizing filter, a shutter release isn’t 100% necessary. But, since it is so cheap and because it will make your shooting experience better, I still recommend it.
A shutter release will simply allow you to take a ton of photos of the waterfall in continuous shooting mode without accidentally bumping the camera. It’s an easy way to take a bunch of shots so you know you get one you’ll love.