Catching Magic: Photographing waterfalls in Bella Vista

“The best waterfall pictures are taken in the soft light of dawn or dusk. The harsh mid-day light is not your friend. It will wash out the colors and contrasts that make waterfall photography so beautiful.”

Dana Johnson

Never underestimate the power of flowing water. There are safe areas from which to view but the rocks can be covered with moss and slippery. At times of the year, there is a lot of water moving through the creeks and over the falls.

There are lakes, creeks and waterfalls throughout the Bella Vista region of the Ozark, but Tanyard Creek is easily accessible and a favorite for walkers. The Tanyard Creek trails are rated easy to medium depending on the route. The routes and loops are well-signed. The trails offer both hard and soft surfaces for your hike and include both a suspension bridge and a slightly less adventurous bridge over the falls. Bikes are not allowed on this part of the Bella Vista trails system. There is a large parking lot and restroom located at the trailhead.

“In order to capture an idyllic silken flow dropping into the reflection of surrounding trees on the crystal clear water of Tanyard Creek, make sure that the sun is below the tree line so you can set your camera with a very slow shutter speed. There are filters that can help minimize the effects of sun glare on water.”

Dana Johnson

Johnson recommends a polarizing filer be used for shooting waterfalls in any kind of light to cut glare off, not only the surface of the water, but reflected light from damp surfaces on adjacent rocks or leaves. By adjusting the amount of filtration with a polarizing filter you can capture or remove rainbows you sometimes get at the base or top of the waterfall.

If you aren’t going for satin-like waterfall and prefer to freeze the falls in place capturing the individual water drops you will need a little more daylight and a faster shutter speed. The more ambient light that exists, the faster your shutter speed can be and the more visible the drops will be.

“Living in beautiful Bella Vista has given me an incredible palette to practice and refine my skills with a camera and a playground to commune with nature.”

Dana Johnson is a nature and wildlife photographer living and photographing in Bella Vista. Johnson is the son of a wildlife artist and inherited his interest. It wasn’t until he retired that he found the time to dedicate to nurturing his passion.

He is the author of two books, Bella Vista Arkansas and the recently published, Country Roads.

More of Dana’s photography can be seen on his Facebook page Dana Johnson Studio.