Capturing Oregon: Photographing Waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge

June 25, 2012 (Updated June 25, 2012)

Along the Oregon- Washington border is the dramatic and deep Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The Gorge is my home, and I watch it every day under the change of seasons. I’ve photographed here professionally for years. Photographers flock here for the many spectacular waterfalls which drop off the cliffside – the most famous of which is Multnomah Falls. Join the Friends of the Gorge on their Waterfall Wanderlust challenge, or travel to many of the waterfalls on your own.

I live here (lucky me), and here are a few of my suggestions to photograph the many splendid waterfalls in the Gorge:


1)    If you want to show the power of a waterfall, photograph it at 1/500th of a second or faster to stop its motion; but if you want to show the serenity of it, photograph the waterfall at ¼ second or slower and use a tripod for a silky effect.

2)    Most waterfalls photograph best on cloudier days. On sunny days, there is too much contrast and you’ll lose many of the highlights in your image.

3)    Don’t just document the waterfall, but show it in its environment. Add a foreground to anchor your image, and use the stream to create a leading line.

4)    I like to include a person in my images to create expression and scale and to add a point of interest to the shot.

My favorite seasons to photograph waterfalls in the Gorge are the spring and fall. Beautiful spring greens and lovely fall foliage adds needed color and depth to an image.

Editor’s Note: Capturing Oregon” brings you the stories of Oregon photographers as they traverse the state to capture its beauty. To see more of David’s photography, visit

About The

David Cobb
David Cobb is an award-winning professional photographer known for his photographs of nature throughout the world, and particularly for his images of the Pacific Northwest. His garden and flower images have appeared in “Nature’s Best Photography,” “American Gardener,” “Organic Gardening,” and his Japanese garden images have recently shown at the US Botanic Garden and the Royal Botanic Garden. See more of David’s work at