How to fix blue waterfalls in your landscape photographs

Jul 28, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to fix blue waterfalls in your landscape photographs

Jul 28, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Even though I’m not really a landscape guy, I love waterfalls. For me, they regularly serve as the backdrop to a portrait session. The big problem with waterfalls, though, is that they can often turn out quite blue. There’s a number of reasons why this can happen. Sometimes it’s white balance issues. Personally, I find that it’s often the bright blue sky reflecting off or refracting through the tiny droplets.

Regardless of the cause, you can fix it. In this very quick tip tutorial video, Blake Rudis of f64 academy shows us two ways to deal with this issue. The first utilises Adobe Camera Raw. Blake demonstrates using it as a filter within Photoshop, but it can also be applied to your raw files. The other method uses Photoshop’s adjustment layers.

YouTube video

Shifting the white balance of the image alone can sometimes fix the problem. Although, usually you have to shift the slider over to an extreme to really get rid of it. It can also do some strange things to the surrounding environment. So, the solution is the Hue, Saturation and Luminance sliders. Dropping the saturation, and adjusting the lightness of the blues makes light work of the problem.

The other method is using Photoshop’s Hue/Saturation layer. The advantage here is that instead of affecting all the blues, you can target very specific hues of blue. This allows a much finer degree of control. You can even stack multiple Hue/Saturation layers, with each targeting very slightly different hues.

This method also means that you can mask things out. So, if you had somebody standing in front of the waterfall wearing a jeans or a blue t-shirt, you can have your adjustment affect only the waterfall, and not your subject’s clothes.

So, if you’ve been frustrated with how waterfalls look in your photographs, now you know two quick ways to fix them.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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5 responses to “How to fix blue waterfalls in your landscape photographs”

  1. Jenn Grover Avatar
    Jenn Grover

    Try split toning. You can adjust mostly just the whites by warming up the highlights.

  2. Casey Braunger Avatar
    Casey Braunger

    Use the blues saturation slider in LR?

  3. Timo K Ripatti Avatar
    Timo K Ripatti

    The bluish waterfall is no problem. The really annoying waterfall color is greyish brown, for many reasons.

  4. Dimitris Servis Avatar
    Dimitris Servis

    Get a bucket of paint, go upstream and pour it in the water

    1. Aankhen Avatar
      Aankhen

      Bahahahahahaahahahah.