I took the afternoon yesterday and decided to head up to a set of falls about 45 minutes north of Bracebridge in the town of Emsdale. Brooks falls is located on the Magnetawan River just off of Deer Lake Rd, about 10 minutes from highway 11. I had visited this particular set of falls in the winter but wanted to return when the snow and ice were gone. I’m always a bit cautious at a new location in the winter as it’s tricky to know just what you are stepping on when it’s covered in a thick blanket of snow. Last thing you want is to be going for a swim when it’s -15 out!
The falls themselves are a quick walk from the parking area and even though they are easily accessible they still feel quite secluded. There are no viewing platforms, stairs or railings and the two times I have been up there I have been the only person around.
When I arrived to the location I hiked down to the base of the falls, left my gear and scouted the area for possible compositions. The base of the falls and surrounding shoreline consists of interesting bedrock leaving a ton of possibilities when it comes to composing an image. The first thing I do whenever shooting a scene with moving water in it is set up my tripod and camera and take some test images to find the shutter speed that captures the desired amount of detail in the water. This obviously depends on the mood/style I am going for and can change from image to image. Also, when shooting waterfalls, the angle at which the water is flowing in relation to where you are set up greatly affects how slow or quick your shutter will need to be. I’m a big fan of retaining detail in water while still giving it a smooth texture, I’m not a huge fan of super long shutter speeds where everything looks “milky”, just personal preference.
Since the falls were flowing quite heavily I ended up shooting at 1/5th of a second and was happy with the balance that gave me in the water. I used a Circular Polarizer on the end of my 21mm Zeiss to cut the glare from the bedrock and really saturate the damp green ferns. I only ended up shooting two different compositions, one being a portrait style that I wasn’t too happy with then I had to pack in as a huge storm started to roll overhead, but in the end I was really happy coming away with this image. Although the Muskoka area has a ton of different waterfalls around I would recommend taking a trip up to Brook’s Falls. You could easily spend a day here shooting the falls and the surrounding area, it’s certainly worth a visit!
I'm a Canadian landscape photographer and workshop leader based out of Muskoka, Ontario who has a passion for all things outdoors. My blog is intended as a way to share images and stories from my travels as well as provide instructional articles, tips, tricks and reviews in hopes that it will help you further your craft. Landscape photography is a journey filled with excitement, passion, adventure and sometimes disappointment. I hope to help you steer clear of that last one the best I can!
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