“Magical” Waterfall Glowing at Night Captured With a Simple Lighting Trick

Havasu Falls by Carley Nelson

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During a backpacking trip to Havasu Falls with her friends and husband, photographer Carley Nelson decided to bring home a special souvenir. Using only the light emitted by the group's headlamps, she was able to bring home a spectacular image of the waterfall at night.

Instructing the group to remain as still as possible, she was able to capture the magic of the falling water cascading under the stars. “Photographs still don't do this place justice, but I wanted to try and capture some of the magic this place has at night,” Nelson tells My Modern Met. “Not only do I love trying to capture the beauty of some of the incredible places I've been lucky enough to visit, but I also love trying to find new and unique perspectives. It's a fun challenge.”

For this particular challenge, Nelson placed her Nikon D5300 with a Nikkor f/2.8 fisheye lens on a tripod. With the ISO set to 3200 and the aperture opened as wide as possible, she used a 25-second exposure for the scene. In order to expose the sky properly, she had her friends turn off their headlamps after 10 seconds. The remaining time was used to ensure the starry night would shine through.

The resulting photograph is a prime example of how photographers need to think on their toes to get the image they are after, and this doesn't always involve expensive and fancy equipment.

Carley Nelson: Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use photo by Carley Nelson.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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