Waterfalls In B&W


The waterfalls pictured here are from Spearfish Canyon, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. On this spring day clouds provided diffused light, eliminating harsh contrast and helping me achieve the silky water affect. Located close to one another, it was easy to get to all three falls in one afternoon. I found the vantage points to be quite limited … choosing not to jump a fence, get wet or roll down a steep ravine. The lack of choices made the shoots even quicker and that was good because the clouds were starting to clear, putting an end to ideal conditions. I tried a few of the different compositions available and after processing them decided I like the following, centered compositions best, especially as a set. I converted them to B&W to make them a little different and lessen some distractions. By doing so I think more attention is given to the main subjects.

A short hike takes you to a beautiful view of Spearfish Falls in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

‘Spearfish Falls’ © Denise Bush
click here to view larger or order a print

Water falls into a babbling cascade at Roughlock Falls in the Black Hillsof South Dakota.

‘Roughlock Falls’ © Denise Bush

52 Responses to “Waterfalls In B&W”

  1. 1 Michael Pillows

    Such different features to the ones I see on the east coast… love overcast days for shooting the falls and the choice for BW was perfect!!!

  2. not a big fan of water that looks like silk curtains but I like the B&W treatment and composition. Thanks for sharing.

    • I met a couple of other people who don’t like the silky look and that’s OK … although you are outnumbered! 🙂 Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment!

  3. Yup. All good, and they look great in B&W.

  4. I think I remember Bridal Veil Falls from when we were in the Black Hills in 2017. You did an excellent job with it, much better than I could’ve done under the conditions we encountered back then.

    • I wonder how many Bridal Veil Falls there are in the US … I’ve heard of several and have shot a few. This one had very limited choices from an observation deck. There was a steep ravine and river below.

  5. Beautiful work.

  6. 11 Vickie R Bush

    Love them, ordering some photos soon!

  7. 13 Amy

    Awesome shots!!

  8. Oh, Denise, these are fabulous! I think they are stunning in black and white.

  9. Although I’m also not a big fan of the silky look of water, I think these look really good in black and white. I agree with you that it lessens distractions. Very nice photos Denise, and all 3 in 1 day!!

    • Thanks for having a look … I’m glad you like the B&W. I respect everyone’s opinion of course. On the other hand, I am trying to remember if I have ever admired a waterfall image that stopped the action and cannot think of any. 🙂

      • I’m not sure what you mean with ‘stopped the action’ sorry.

        What I meant is that I prefer this:
        rather than this:

        I am not trying to prove a point, but interested in what you mean. Also, from your post I’ve learnt that I prefer the silky look in black and white images, rather than in colour images.

      • Yes, I understood what you meant! And I actually do like the image in the first link which is what I meant by ‘stopped action’ … by using a faster shutter speed, so it doesn’t blur. The silky look in the second image is not executed well in my opinion … there’s not enough detail in the whites. Perhaps the shutter speed was too slow there.

      • Thanks Denise, glad you like that image, I understand what you mean now, it’s great to keep on learning! Appreciate it.

  10. You’ve given these a mystical quality – they make me think of how geological features have been thought to be sacred.

    • Thanks for sharing that thought! You are right … waterfalls can feel mystical. As a matter of fact, there is one near my home called Mystic Falls!

  11. Excellent images and wise choices equals dramatic viewing !

  12. These are stunning shots, Denise! So alluring, the B&W treatment is a perfect choice.

  13. 28 Deb

    Beautiful conversions! Roughlock Falls is my favorite!

  14. Great analytic to get the best out of the pictures given the situation. The results came out great!

  15. I love B&W, but candidly have never thought about waterfalls in B&W! You have opened my eyes with these shots. I love the texture of the water using B&W creates. Stunning work as always!

  16. They all work so well in black and white. Bravo!

  17. Gorgeously capture, WOW!

  18. Beautiful work, love the b&w! It gives a tranquil feeling to the scene! Lovely.

    • Thank you. I wasn’t thrilled with any of them until I had the idea to do them like this and as a set. I think I like Bridal Veil the best.

  19. I too, have come to appreciate waterfalls in B&W. I especially appreciate your discussion of the challenges you faced with these images and enjoyed the back and forth with crea2010. I have tried many times to achieve the silky look, but lacking a tripod, it’s nearly impossible. Finding a location to place the camera that also allows a decent composition is often impossible. Some day, perhaps I’ll spring for a tripod. Meanwhile, I must satisfy myself vicariously through your work.

    • Thank you Linda … I’m glad you enjoyed the post and discussion. Yes … to make silky water images work you need to have the stationary elements in the scene very sharp … impossible hand-holding a long shutter speed to blur the water at the same time. A good rule of thumb for hand holding to achieve sharpness is no slower than 2x the focal length, ie: 1/60 sec at 30mm, 1/160 sec @ 80mm. (Some and with image stabilization can hand hold at slightly slower speeds.) A tripod allows you to ensure sharpness in low light like sunset too and slows you down to really look at your composition and all the edges.

  20. What luck to have cloud cover and to have 3 falls near each other! Each is gorgeous in its own right. It’s too hard to pick a favorite.

    • Yes … it was lucky to have the clouds when we were there. It was also very windy so a little tricky to get the branches sharp in the middle one while still blurring the water.

  21. These are beautiful!

  22. Wonderful compositions, gorgeous b&w tonality and excellent end to end technical execution!

  23. I like waterfalls in black and white (and the silky look), and have done a few that way, but often forget about the b/w option. Nicely executed!

  24. Best not to fall into a ravine and damage yourself or your camera. LOL They are all so different. I like the last one the best, but I want to see the color, too!

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