Waterfalls are one of the favorite subjects for nature photographers. However, many waterfalls require a somewhat lengthy hike usually on uneven terrain.
Since many waterfalls require a long hike in order to photograph them, it is important that you plan out your photography kit in advance since you can’t easily walk back to the car to get the item that you forgot.
A couple of years ago, I switched to an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Micro Four Thirds camera for my landscape photography. The light weight of the Micro Four Thirds camera and lenses are a great benefit when hiking for miles up a mountain to photograph a waterfall.
In this blog, I list out the photography equipment that I take on my waterfall photography hikes.
Photography Equipment for a Waterfall Hike
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Besides the lighter weight that I mentioned above, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 takes excellent quality landscape photos and has a great feature set including focus peaking and numerous customizable dials and buttons to enable quick changes to settings. Check out my blog on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 for landscape photography for more information.
Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro Lens
This was Olympus’ first micro four thirds pro lens. The lens is heavier than most micro four thirds lenses at .84 pounds but it’s worth carrying the extra weight. The lens is fast at f/2.8 and extremely sharp.
Olympus 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 Lens
This lens is not as sharp as the Olympus Pro 7-14mm lens. But the Olympus 9-18mm lens has several advantages over the more expensive Pro lens. First this lens is a lot lighter than the 7-14mm Pro lens and second you can screw filters on the front of the lens while the Pro lens does not accept filters. Filters are essential for waterfall photography to slow down the shutter speed and give the water that silky effect.
Olympus 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 lens
This inexpensive lens is perfect for the occasion when you need a longer focal length shot of the waterfall. It definitely not a pro lens, but its light and works great for that waterfall close up shot.
Neutral Density Filters
Neutral density filters are great for slowing your shutter speed down to give a waterfall a silky look. I carry the following Neutral Density filters with me when photographing waterfalls. I prefer fixed ND filters over the variable filters as I believe the photo quality is better with the fixed filters. Fixed filters can also be stacked to let less light into the camera.
- Tiffen 62mm Neutral Density 0.3 Filter
- Tiffen 62mm Neutral Density 0.6 Filter
- Tiffen 62mm Neutral Density 0.9 Filter
The 62mm filters fit on the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro Lens.
Circular Polarizer Filters
I also bring along a Tiffin 62mm Circular Polarizer filterand a Tiffen 52mm Circular Polarizer filter. A polarizer help remove the glare from the water. It also will help to slow down your shutter speed, the same as a ND filter.
The 52mm filter fits the Olympus 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 Lens.
Tiffen Belt Style Filter Pouch
To allow quick access to the filters, I carry them in a Tiffen Filter Pouch that attaches to your belt with Velcro. This provides faster access to the filters than digging through a backpack. It’s also helpful to keep your filters in the same order in the pouch so you can find the right filter without looking at the label.
Remote Shutter Release
A remote shutter release is essential for long exposures where pressing the shutter button could add movement to the image capture.
Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT Tripod
Although I switched to a micro four thirds camera, I stuck with a more heavy duty DSLR tripod. I like a more stable tripod when photographing landscapes to ensure stability while shooting long exposures. The tripod can also double as a walking stick in rough terrain.
Clik Elite Compact Sport Backpack
This is a small backpack that works well for Micro Four Thirds photographers. It’s small enough where is doesn’t weigh you down too much. Yet, it can fit a Micro Four Thirds camera with 3 lenses and room for extra gear. See my blog on the Click Elite Sport Backpack for more information and photos.
Written by Martin Belan