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Paradise Found | McLean Falls

McLean Falls, Southland

Waterfalls are common subjects for photographers, but are notoriously challenging to capture. The high dynamic range of white water contrasting with dark, shadowy surrounds is difficult to capture at the best of times. In harsh sunlight, it's virtually impossible. Add to that the danger of getting you or your kit wet.

Down here at the bottom of New Zealand, I discovered the bottom cascade of McLean Falls, often overlooked in favour of its taller counterpart upstream. I had driven for two hours, walked for 20 minutes, then clambered over slippery boulders and rotten logs to a dodgy perch in mid-stream.

Fitting an ND filter to my wide-angle lens slowed down the shutter speed to 30 seconds, effectively blurring the water into a milky flow. While depicting the passage of time, the moving water also contrasts with solid, immovable rocks... the transient versus the permanent.

To make the image pop, a little post processing was in order. In Photoshop I did a touch of dodging and burning to accentuate the play of light on the terrain, as well as to highlight the natural lead-in line at the bottom left.

You can follow my tutorial on exactly how I tweaked this image on the ultimate landscape masterclass, LOCATIONZ. Or just enjoy our road trip video series on YouTube: EPISODE FOUR | Nugget Pt & McLean Falls


Settings: Aperture: f/8 | Shutter Speed: 30 seconds | ISO: 100 | Focal length: 40mm Canon 5D Mark III, using NiSi 6-stop ND Filter and V5 kit [Click to see video review ]

[ If camera settings are still confusing, enroll in my Discover Your DSLR course ]

Keyword: landscape photography south island nz

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