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3 Fall in the Columbia River Gorge - Multnomah Falls

AlanL

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A fall view of Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge from early November with peak fall colors. This is a 7 shot burst using the 70mm lens on my Mavic 3 Pro and stacked using median blending in Photoshop.

DJI_M3P_70_CRG-MultnomahFalls111023.jpg
Comments and critiques always welcome.
 
A fall view of Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge from early November with peak fall colors. This is a 7 shot burst using the 70mm lens on my Mavic 3 Pro and stacked using median blending in Photoshop.

View attachment 170781
Comments and critiques always welcome.
Alan
It's a beautiful shot and you have blurred the falls impressively with slow shutter speed. Also admire how you dealt with dynamic range of dark area in falls and bright area of foliage. If it were my image, I would have probably had to do all of this with local masking adjustments since I have no idea how to stack. Call you recommend a video tutorial for stacking?

Dale
Miami
 
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Alan
It's a beautiful shot and you have blurred the falls impressively with slow shutter speed. Also admire how you dealt with dynamic range of dark area in falls and bright area of foliage. If it were my image, I would have probably had to do all of this with local masking adjustments since I have no idea how to stack. Call you recommend a video tutorial for stacking?

Dale
Miami
Dale - I haven't seen a video on this but can easily describe the process. There are a lot of small intermittent waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge that only show up when we get a lot of rain and the best views are from the air so I use this technique a lot. You can do this with as few as 2 captures but 5-7 seems to give better results for smooth flows. You can do this with any camera so if you ever find yourself in front of a waterfall with no tripod your regular camera can do the same thing. I like it with drone images since it allows for a faster shutter speed and better details in the final output.

My workflow for this is based on Lightroom so if you are a dedicated ACR fan you will have to improvise the first steps. In this case I took all of the images in the burst and run them through DxO PureRAW to clean up the DNGs and then made all of my light/color adjustments on one of the images. I then Sync'ed all of the images in the set to this one.

1. Highlight all of the captures and use Open in Photoshop as Layers.

2. Highlight all of the layers and then use Edit>Auto-align Layers. Use the default Auto setting for alignment.

3. With all of the layers still highlighted do Layer>Smart Objects>Convert to Smart Object. PS will collapse all of the layers into a single object.

4. Then do Layer>Smart Object>Stack Mode>Median and PS will use median blending mode which should only impact the waterfall. The result will still be a Smart Object so depending on your PS workflow you may wish to Rasterize the image for your remaining edits (I do).

This technique will also work with phone captures and I have used it with bursts from an iPhone but there is more of a lag in-between individual captures than with most cameras given how phones use computational photography to preprocess images (even DNGs) and the results aren't as smooth as what I see with either drones or DSLRs.

There are other blending modes in PS for step 4 and Mean is that other possibility depending on your subject and the number of captures you are working with. I tend to prefer Median but YMMV.

Alan
 
Alan,
Beautiful shot! Thanks for detailing your technique for blurring the water on the falls, I might have to try that as I am interested in getting some drone perspectives in some of the falls in my area before it gets too cold and the water freezes too much. I have been shooting a number of falls in my area with my DSLRs and usually use a long exposure with the camera on a tripod. I have been considering purchasing an ND1000 filter for my Mavic 3 Pro for this purpose but if the method you describe above works just as well or even better I may just use that.

The problem I can see with the ND1000 filter is that it reduces the light by 10 stops and when doing a long exposure I usually want to stop down my aperture (also reducing light) as much as possible to keep the other elements aside from the waterfall in the photo as sharp as possible. This is often tricky to manage on a cloudy or overcast day that we often now have in the winter months. As you are aware, aperture control is only available on the wide-angle 24mm lens, so when using the 70mm lens it becomes even more tricky if using an ND1000.

Would be interested in your thoughts or others on using the ND1000 specifically for waterfall photos on the Mavic 3 Pro.

Chris
 
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Alan,
Beautiful shot! Thanks for detailing your technique for blurring the water on the falls, I might have to try that as I am interested in getting some drone perspectives in some of the falls in my area before it gets too cold and the water freezes too much. I have been shooting a number of falls in my area with my DSLRs and usually use a long exposure with the camera on a tripod. I have been considering purchasing an ND1000 filter for my Mavic 3 Pro for this purpose but if the method you describe above works just as well or even better I may just use that.

The problem I can see with the ND1000 filter is that it reduces the light by 10 stops and when doing a long exposure I usually want to stop down my aperture (also reducing light) as much as possible to keep the other elements aside from the waterfall in the photo as sharp as possible. This is often tricky to manage on a cloudy or overcast day that we often now have in the winter months. As you are aware, aperture control is only available on the wide-angle 24mm lens, so when using the 70mm lens it becomes even more tricky if using an ND1000.

Would be interested in your thoughts or others on using the ND1000 specifically for waterfall photos on the Mavic 3 Pro.

Chris
Chris - you have hit on exactly why I use the burst/stacking technique in the first place. I have shot sunrise/sunset sessions on many occasions and have found that once you start heading towards longer exposures the images start running into motion blur issues. While DJI has done some amazing things to stabilize our drones/cameras while in flight it's not even close to a match for what we get out of a tripod on solid ground. I bought some ND and polarizing filters for my old Mavic 3 and they have now become shelfware I don't even pack along with my drones anymore.

If you use the steps outlined above you can see where Photoshop has to do some work to get all of the terrain surrounding the falls to line up correctly so even though the camera burst is quick its still the case that the drone isn't perfectly staying in one position while it grabs the shots. That will always end up being motion blur if you try to get an equivalent result using a long shutter speed. With stacking you can keep the speed set to a quicker shot and have less blur to try to work around. The nice part about stacking in this case is that you already own everything you need and don't have to mess around with the filter.
 
Chris - you have hit on exactly why I use the burst/stacking technique in the first place. I have shot sunrise/sunset sessions on many occasions and have found that once you start heading towards longer exposures the images start running into motion blur issues. While DJI has done some amazing things to stabilize our drones/cameras while in flight it's not even close to a match for what we get out of a tripod on solid ground. I bought some ND and polarizing filters for my old Mavic 3 and they have now become shelfware I don't even pack along with my drones anymore.

If you use the steps outlined above you can see where Photoshop has to do some work to get all of the terrain surrounding the falls to line up correctly so even though the camera burst is quick its still the case that the drone isn't perfectly staying in one position while it grabs the shots. That will always end up being motion blur if you try to get an equivalent result using a long shutter speed. With stacking you can keep the speed set to a quicker shot and have less blur to try to work around. The nice part about stacking in this case is that you already own everything you need and don't have to mess around with the filter.
Thanks for the reply. With the burst/stacking technique do you still try to use as long an exposure as possible to get some blur in the falls before you stack the images in post?

Chris
 
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Thanks for the reply. With the burst/stacking technique do you still try to use as long an exposure as possible to get some blur in the falls before you stack the images in post?

Chris
Nope - my goal with shutter speed is to minimize motion blur of everything around the falls and let the burst/stacking take care of the water flow. The exposure for the scene above was 1/240s @f/2.8 ISO 100. That's not to say you couldn't slow down the shutter speed a bit but I don't have full exposure control with the 70mm lens on my Mavic 3.
 
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Beautiful!
When my wife and lived in Gresham, it was one our "go-to" destinations. It's beautiful to see the upper/lower falls/bridge from down below. The hike to the top takes a bit, but you're rewarded with a specular view of the Gorge from up there. I'll admit, it's a bit unnerving to look down the falls.
 
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Beautiful!
When my wife and lived in Gresham, it was one our "go-to" destinations. It's beautiful to see the upper/lower falls/bridge from down below. The hike to the top takes a bit, but you're rewarded with a specular view of the Gorge from up there. I'll admit, it's a bit unnerving to look down the falls.

Thanks - I have viewed and shot these falls hundreds of times at this point from the viewing platforms below along with the bridge and the trails so it's been fun shooting it from the air and changing the viewpoint. Not really doable with just a 24mm lens but the 700mm lens on the Mavic 3 Pro is perfect for shooting this scene from out over the Columbia outside of the No-fly boundaries.
 
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Thank you so much, Alan, for that helpful guide.

It's funny: for all the time I been using Lightroom and Photoshop over the years, I've not attempted that form of image stacking. It will be fun to try it out—especially for creating motion blur without an ND filter on the cameras attached to our "flying tripods!"

Carl
 
Thank you so much, Alan, for that helpful guide.

It's funny: for all the time I been using Lightroom and Photoshop over the years, I've not attempted that form of image stacking. It will be fun to try it out—especially for creating motion blur without an ND filter on the cameras attached to our "flying tripods!"

Carl

Thanks Carl - glad the guide helped. Give it a go - you don't have to buy anything to try this out since your are already a LR/PS user and have a drone :)

Some better weather up the Gorge to play with would be useful however....
 
Oh, yes. Some favourable atmospheric conditions here in the Pacific Northwest for our aerial imagery pursuits would be most welcome.

I keep checking The Photographer's Ephemeris website for the possibility of ideal sunrise or sunset conditions; I'm sure our patience will eventually be rewarded!
 
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Thank you so much, Alan, for that helpful guide.

It's funny: for all the time I been using Lightroom and Photoshop over the years, I've not attempted that form of image stacking. It will be fun to try it out—especially for creating motion blur without an ND filter on the cameras attached to our "flying tripods!"

Carl
Well, when in a National Park (British Colombia Takkakawa Falls) I could only use a tripod. This was taken with 3 stop ND filter, slow shutter, and tripod and the people were not spot brush removed.

Dale
Miami
 

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Well, when in a National Park (British Colombia Takkakawa Falls) I could only use a tripod. This was taken with 3 stop ND filter, slow shutter, and tripod and the people were not spot brush removed.

Dale
Miami

Nice falls Dale. My usual M.O. for waterfalls is with a DSLR on a tripod since you have complete control over how to best shoot the water flow in front of you. The Columbia River Gorge is a half hour drive from my house so I have shot just about every angle and season you can think of with the waterfalls up there which runs into thousands of photos. And not one of them has the viewpoint of the image at the top of the thread from out over the Columbia.

I am happy there are ways for us to get good aerial imagery of scenes like this from places we simply can't access from the ground. At the same time there are some wonderful waterfall venues out in the Oregon coast range where you would have to be crazy to try to fly near.
 
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