This is the largest, most accessible, and most well-known waterfall in the Twin Cities. I see it pop-up every week on my Instagram feed. Like with any popular scenic destination, Minnehaha Falls is often captured by multiple people with similar exposures. During my day off and my first visit to the bottom of the falls, my main goal was to shoot the falls from a new perspective.

It isn’t easy, but it is highly rewarding to get that unique take.

Going in, a few of my strategies were:

  • Shoot from the top viewing area.
  • Look for black & white compositions.
  • Use the familiar to create something new.
  • Use my greater zoom lens (150mm-300mm) from a distance rather then rely on wide lens.

I succeed my goals and came away with shots I have never seen before. They aren’t all print worthy, or breathtaking but they each represent a success of my strategies. Ultimately, I took the photos I came for even though I wasn’t sure of the exact spot or composition. This blend and mystery of planning and spontaneity is a wonderful aspect of photography.

Below are my top five photos of Monday adventure.


North view from top

Reduced elements (removed bridge, more brush and trees on left), focused on primary subject (waterfall) and tried to frame the waterfall using the ice, trees in lower right, and the first dip of water flow at the very top.

Further edit: I would like the water even smoother to contrast the jagged, uneven ice formations.

Black & white view from base

I saw three leading lines immediately as I found my black & white shot. The dark and white lines on bottom right, along with the fence lead to the middle of the image. The white snow on the black fence remained this early in the morning. What I really like about this image is this: imagine the bottom of the photo is actually the black path leading up from the bottom right. Then continue to the white snow, the black fence, then white waterfall followed finally by the dark bridge and stone at top, like the we are rotating the photo as we climb up. The white and black lines interchange five times, creating this pattern.

Further edit: The branches aren’t terrible but their absence would be better.

Framed view from base

Use everything as a potential element of your photo. I tried using the metal fence and thought it might be a good frame. The dark rocks on the top add a natural line to the two fence posts and line of white snow beneath. It focuses your attention even more towards the scene. I also enjoy the light hitting the waterfall and top ice clump.

Further edit: I wish that stray stick was gone.

Looking northwest from top stone wall

Now these photos are getting exciting! I have done a similar shot to this before, a black & white in the fall before ice formed without smoothing the water flow. This was a case of using the familiar (view location) and using an element that normally would be ignored (rock wall). The stone wall completes the circular framing I saw in the top of this photo. The rocks also do the job of pointing to the waterfall along with the gap between icicles on the left. I did enhance the blue hues every so slightly but much of it was the twilight morning. I love the water trails and smooth flow.

Further edit: Nitpicking here but could do with the tangle on the right.

Facing main flow from base bridge

This is my favorite of all of the shots. The black rocks contrast the ice and water flow in both color and shape. The river flows up to the left where the ice carries the eye up and up. Try it. The lowest icicles can halt flow by forcing the eye downwards. The blue ice is a nice touch. My favorite aspect is that the top of the waterfall appears as if the sun shine downs directly onto it and I feel like the sun pours into the photo from here. I like the balance of the elements and just pleased with the shot.

Further edit: A more crisp and sharp image.

Shooting date & time: March 26th, 7:00 to 8:30am
Location: Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Gear: Olympus OMD E-M10 Mirrorless, 12-42 & 75-150mm lens.
Weather: Cloudy and drizzly
Crowds: Vacant until 8:00am, half a dozen hikers, one other photographer




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