In EP15 of Adventure Photography On Location I continue my journey north through South Africa and follow the famous Panorama Route. On today’s menu: Epic views and raging waterfalls. Join me as I put the weather sealing of my camera to the extreme test.
We continue our South Africa journey north to the famous Panorama Route. A route dotted with raging waterfalls and epic lookouts. I planned 3 days here and was keen to catch the best possible light in each of the locations I had researched.
Turned out the weather wasn’t on our side and we spent half of the planned time waiting out storms. EPIC storms!
But when the clouds broke apart and let through the light things changed to the better. We managed to scout a few of the locations and eventually got a perfect sunrise for the most iconic view of the Panorama Route: Blyde River Canyon.
With a perfect mix of low hanging clouds, incoming storm clouds and golden light diffused with the odd light rays I couldn’t have wished for more.
With limited access to a lot of the other locations many shots I had hoped to get weren’t actually possible. Fences, rules and protected areas stopped us from getting to the bottom of many waterfalls or even close to locations that would have offered good shots. The Panorama Route was starting to turn into a bit of a nightmare actually.
But we didn’t stop exploring and eventually discovered one of the lesser visited falls. Lone Creek Falls and suddenly found ourselves amongst many locals enjoying their Sunday Braai (BBQ).
With all the recent storms the waterfall was absolutely pumping and the spray coming off the bottom had us (and the gear) drenched in absolutely no time. Luckily all my camera gear is weather sealed and I didn’t worry too much about it.
After a bit of scouting and pre-visualising the different possible shots I knew I wasn’t going to get a lot of time to get it right.
Equipped with the M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO mounted to my Olympus E-M1 Mark II and the LEE 105mm Circular Polariser I had the right equipment for the shot. It allowed me to add a nice foreground element (the rocks, path and the tree above) to frame my shot.
The circular polariser was essential to the shot here. All the wet reflections on the floor, leaves and rock were cut out and I had a lot more colour to play with. The final shot is by far my favourite shot of the entire South Africa trip.
Seems like I can’t get around getting absolutely soaked to get the shot these days…
Super simple: 2x E-M1 Mark II (one for shooting, one for filming), the 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO (photo) 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO (video).
Then the LEE filter kit to cut out all the reflections and make the colours pop and more workable for editing.
I filmed the episode in Cinema 4K (4096x2160px) and flat profile. I used a second Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II (thanks Olympus!) and the 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO for the filming of the episode.
This camera + lens combination is my absolute favourite video kit. The sensor + lens stabilisation is a miracle and seemingly by magic (and incredibly engineering), manages to smooth out ±90% of the shake I produce while handling the camera handheld. No need for a tripod or gimbal!
For the final render I downscaled the footage to 1920×1080 and cropped it to 16:9 aspect ratio for YouTube. By using a larger recording format you get more detailed looking downscaled image and the option to crop in if needed from the available 4096x2160px (Cinema 4K resolution)
I’m very pleased with the final result and this episode is probably my favourite so far.
Almost all of my Adventure Photography On Location episodes are self funded. I create them because I love sharing my passion for photography and the outdoors and I would love to keep creating more of these and hopefully transform them into an ongoing series. Many hours are spent coming up with and creating episodes for you and I don’t really make much money creating them. Which is why I decided to join Patreon.
Patreon is the perfect platform where you can support the work of creatives like myself. By subscribing you can contribute a small amount of money towards each future episode and help me produce more, better and higher quality content.
So, if you enjoyed this episodes and would love to see more of them in the future please consider supporting me and the creation of my work on Patreon.
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I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks on how I shot and edited my favourite shot of the South Africa trip.
If you’re a Patreon supporter you’ll also have access to the Preset for this shot. Give it a go and try it on your misty / green shots.
I slightly underexposed the original to not lose any details in the water and because I didn’t have that much light to work with here.
The advantage of a wide angle lens and smaller micro 4/3 sensor is that it tends to produce a sharp image (foreground right into the background) at larger apertures and I know that at f/4.5 I’will capture all the detail I want to show in the areas of the image.
As for the slower shutter: 1/125sec wasn’t very high, but since I wasn’t too close to the waterfall the relative speed of the drops actually slows down.
Let me explain: It takes longer for a drop to fall from top to bottom of the frame when you’re further away compared to when you are closer and cropping in a small part of a waterfall. Which is why, even at a slower shutter speed of 1/125sec, the waterfall seems totally sharp and there is no motion blur to be seen. Perfect for my shot.
The editing was quite a bit more complex than usual. Lots of local adjustments had to be made to focus the shot on the yellow jacket and create the right atmosphere.
In my opinion the framing and composition was pretty good. All the lines on the left (in the background) right (layers of green), bottom (the path) and top (the waterfall) lead to subject: the model in yellow and there’s a strong foreground / background contrast which creates a nice sense of depth to the shot.
For the edit I wanted something tropical, dreamy and almost beyond this world. The location and framing allowed for that.
In Lightroom I warmed up the top right end of the composition to make the mist look warmer and brighter. This created more depth and added to the mysterious tree and general atmosphere. Then I strongly reduced saturation of the yellows and oranges in the rock face on the top left. It was too distracting.
Finally I increased the contrast and quite a bit in the centre of the shot to make the yellow jacket pop and stand out in front of the waterfall and pull the eye right onto the subject of the shot.
Done. The final image looks exactly like I imagine this place could feel when you first see it in real life. Yes it’s not what it looks like in reality, but it’s the memories and the way we feel about a place that matter.
Support me and the production of future episodes for as little as $5 per APOL episode and you’ll receive a new Lightroom Preset with each new published episode (3-4 per month) and you’ll get that great feeling inside you that you’re supporting and part of something awesome!
2 awesome episodes from right inside the oldest desert on the planet. An absolute dream location for every landscape photographer… but more of that NEXT WEEK.
So stay tuned and please subscribe to my Newsletter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram if you don’t want to miss out.
Planning travels yourself? You should definitly check out our travel blog: The Sandy Feet that I run together with my ‘subject‘: Freya (the woman in yellow 😉 ) where you will find for all kinds of travel stories, tips and guides to the places you see me in.