Evening Colours at Niagara Falls

During our travels, my wife and I often meet folks from other parts of the world. One of the things that we always find interesting is the number of people we meet that list seeing Niagara Falls as one of their travel objectives. For us, this part of Southern Ontario is only a 40 minute drive away. This short article features a selection of photographs that depict some of the evening colours at Niagara Falls.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm, f/4-5.6 @ 12.1 mm, efov 32.7 mm, f/8, 2/5, ISO-160

A friend of mine and I arrived at Niagara Falls just after 6 PM, about 45 minutes before sunset. This allowed us to capture a few quick images as the light was fading.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm, f/4-5.6 @ 19.2 mm, efov 51.8 mm, f/8, 1 second, ISO-160

There are a number of interesting buildings and vantage points on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. I used a neutral density filter for the first few images I captured so I could slow down my shutter speed to create some smooth water effects.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm, f/4-5.6 @ 18.1 mm, efov 48.9 mm, f/5.6, 1 second, ISO-160

Unless you arrive very early in the morning it is almost impossible to capture images that incorporate area buildings without having some tourists in your photographs.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm, f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 4/5, ISO-160

Even though my objective was to capture some landscape images, I couldn’t resist a couple of opportunities for more abstract compositions.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm, f/4-5.6 @ 77.8 mm, efov 210 mm, f/11, 4/5, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm, f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1.3 seconds, ISO-160

Just before sunset the lights are turned on at Niagara Falls, treating visitors to some unique views.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm, f/3.5-5.6 @ 9 mm, efov 24.3 mm, f/5.6, 2.5 seconds, ISO-160

Initially the falls are illuminated by monochromatic colours like red, green, orange and blue.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm, f/3.5-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 8 seconds, ISO-160

These create different moods. I found it was helpful to incorporate some of the guardrail into my images to provide a sense of scale and perspective.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm, f/3.5-5.6 @ 9.4 mm, efov 25.4 mm, f/5.6, 5 seconds, ISO-160

The favourite for many visitors is the multi-coloured light display on the falls.

Technical Note:
I used a Manfrotto 055CSPRO3 carbon fibre tripod fitted with a Manfrotto 327RC2 pistol grip for all of the images in this article. I shot in Aperture Priority using AF-S single AF, with Single Point AF Area Mode. I utilized matrix metering with Auto White Balance. All photographs were captured in available light using Nikon 1 gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.

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6 thoughts on “Evening Colours at Niagara Falls”

  1. Tom,

    That abstract mono image of the cascade and pool is lovely.
    On the other hand, it mystifies me why they have to light up the falls with those surreal colors — it’s majestic and beautiful as it is.


    1. Hi Oggie,

      I agree that the falls are beautiful in their own right and don’t need the artificial lighting. I suppose a lot of tourists like it, as it does seem to draw quite a few evening spectators.

      As far as the abstract image of the cascade, it is actually a zoomed-in shot of the Niagara River just as it begins to plummet. The horizontal flow is the Niagara River flowing downstream. The vertical lines are caused by the same Niagara River water beginning to plummet downward. I zoomed in to get these two intersecting flows by taking advantage of the natural horseshoe shape of the waterfall. The monochromatic appearance was simply the colour of the water at that time of day. I did tweak the contrast and a few other settings in post to give the two intersecting flows of water more definition.

      You’ll notice in the EXIF data that I shot that image at f/11 in an attempt to get the right amount of depth-of-field so the two intersecting flows would have about the same amount of definition. Using a longer focal length also helped to compress the image, thus making the two intersecting water flows appear closer together.


      1. Tom,

        I noticed as much — which is why I oftentimes scope out potential details using my zoom or tele lens instead of always resorting to the wide and ultrawide lens for landscapes. The water movement lends itself well to a monochromatic treatment as well as an abstract look in post production — certainly difficult to pinpoint scenes which would look really good when pared down in tones so kudos to your image.


        1. I’m glad you enjoyed the image Oggie – thanks for the supportive comment! One of the reasons that I enjoy using the 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 is the focal length flexibility that the lens provides. I can play around with all kinds of potential compositions without having to change out lenses. Like any ‘all in one’ zoom there is a penalty with image quality that comes into play. I find that not having to interrupt my experimentation with compositions is worth a bit of a penalty.


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