It’s all about the light. Dylan Fox shares how patiently waiting for the perfect light led to a stunning shot of Tasmania's Secret Falls.

Tasmania has incredible scenery in every direction and is well known for its breathtaking rainforests and waterfalls. Everything is so green, lush and full of life. This photograph was taken at Secret Falls in the foothills of Mount Wellington. It was one of the smaller waterfalls I photographed while travelling the Island State, but nonetheless it was impressive.

What is incredible to me is just how accessible and close to Hobart places like this are. This little waterfall is only 15 minutes from the CBD along a local walking track. The falls are easily missed if you’re travelling along the Myrtle Gully Track, which may be where the name ‘secret’ came from.

The morning I spent here I was in light rain. It was perfect for shooting scenes like this where everything is already very lush and is just enhanced by the mist-like appearance of the light rainfall.

I shot a number of different compositions, but it wasn’t until I was about to leave that I noticed this composition and knew I had to shoot it. The only problem was that the clouds had cleared and the light was far too harsh, and the overall feeling of the scene I’d seen only a few minutes before had now disappeared. So I waited. I set my camera and tripod up, locked my focus, and then waited for a little over an hour for the clouds to roll back in.

Waiting for that change in light makes all the difference. In the harsh sunlight the photograph can simply be lost.
When photographing forests (particularly when everything is wet) and waterfalls, I highly recommend using a circular polarising filter to eliminate glare. The polarising filter cuts through the light bouncing off shiny wet rocks and leaves that would otherwise create distracting overexposed white spots throughout the image. This is the only filter in my camera bag and it only gets used on the very rare occasions when I am photographing these kinds of places. Used with other scenes the polariser flattens out the light far too much and often takes away the punch of otherwise dramatic light.

Having seen a few photographs from these falls before, I knew I wanted something different. Although this is always something I strive for, it can often mean taking a bit of a risk avoiding the compositions you know work well. I found myself in very much the same situation, photographing Cradle Mountain earlier in the same trip. It can make you question if you’re wasting your time, or potentially wasting really nice light on a composition which may not work. But on the other hand, maybe it will!

Sony A7R, Canon 16-35mm f2.8 lens @ 16mm, 1s @ f/16, ISO 200, tripod.

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