How to Take the Best Photo
Posted by Jessica Reaves - freelance writer for Tauck
Posted in: Travel Tips
Tags: How-To, USA, Photos
More than 13 million people visit Niagara Falls each year. They come from all over the world to see North America's largest waterfall, and they all have one common goal: take a great - no, make that amazing and unique - photo to commemorate their Falls visit.
The challenge to this otherwise excellent plan will be evident the moment you arrive at your destination. That's because Niagara Falls is huge (approx. 600,000 gallons per second is sent over Horseshoe Falls, the most iconic and largest of the falls). They are also very loud and extremely damp (all that water plummets earthward with tons of force) - sending up clouds of mist that seem to envelop everyone and everything in its path (not to mention your viewfinder).
So, how do you take a photograph of something so massive and (let's face it) so well known? Adam McInnis has a few ideas.
McInnis is a professional photographer and part-time staff member (and staff photographer) at the Ontario Government's Niagara Falls Tourism office.
"You can get so many great shots of the Falls from many different angles," he said. "It's hard to say which one is the best."
On the one hand, McInnis said, "It's great to get up close and personal with the Falls, and if you're close enough you should be able to capture great images of the falls by itself. Just look for interesting angles and take a lot of shots."
Another great vantage point, he said, is the Skylon Tower. "This is one of the tallest towers in the city and you can head up to the observation deck and grab some great shots."
You may be able to escape the mist's effects on your lens if you get lucky with the wind - in other words, if it's blowing away from you. If nature is not on your side that day, or if you decide to cruise for a watery view of the Falls, just keep your lens cloth handy and wipe frequently. And then do it again.
If you're using a pricier camera, like an SLR, McInnis recommends putting a filter on your lens to protect it. "You can buy lots of different filters, the most common being a UV filter," he said. "Most filters affect the outcome of your image by enhancing colors, but a clear glass filter will keep your actual lens free of water and scratches."
McInnis isn't a fan of smartphone cameras, but given that lots of people will be using one to create their once-in-a-lifetime Niagara Falls photograph, here are a few tips anyway (some of which are applicable to actual cameras as well).
- Keep your phone steady. You can use your other arm, a friend's shoulder or a ledge.
- Find interesting vantage points - Try lying down or leaning over at an angle. Your shots may be slightly off-kilter, but they'll be unique!
- Focus on small, unexpected details: There may be flowers growing at the edge of a pedestrian walkway next to the Falls, or you may spot some particularly photogenic bugs or other wildlife that help give your photo a sense of perspective and depth.
- Keep the sun behind you. Glare behind your subject will make your photograph look overexposed.
Good luck and happy picture taking!