Welcome to Incredible Photographs, a series of short interviews on South Africa’s very best nature photography. We ask the photographers a set list of questions to gain insight into the previsualization, planning, capture, editing and reflection of their best photographs.
Where was this image taken?
It was taken in the Drakensberg, in the area know as the Amphitheatre.
Did you plan this image or would you consider it a stroke of luck?
A big stroke of luck. Getting the Tugela Falls with this much water means you need to hike in the rain. The catchment area for the waterfall is quite small and the water drains away fast. Not only is it great getting a lot of water going over the falls, but to have cloud around as well makes it even more special.
Was this image inspired by another photographer’s work or a specific image?
John Hone inspired me to visit the Drakensberg, so I guess this could have been inspired by him. I have visited this location at least 25 times over 6 years and never had the falls looking like this.
Did you use an ephemeris or AR planning app like Photopills or TPE?
Do you have any images of failed shoots to provide some background on what goes into an image like this?
I have countless images of these falls, empty and as a trickle.
Is the location physically challenging to access or is it a brief walk from a parking lot? Also, would you consider the location safe to go shooting on your own or should one be cautious?
Its quite a challenging spot to get to, requires about 8km of hiking, including the high altitude of 3000m above sea level. You also need to brave the weather and sleep in a tent with capable camping equipment. Its not a safe place to go on your own, its safe in respect of crime etc, but not safe to hike alone because you’re on your own, and if you get injured there is no one to help you. Never hike alone!
Did you go out on a whim or was this shoot carefully planned in consideration of weather forecasts?
It was captured during a North Peak Photo Tours landscape workshop, which to the best of our ability planned for the chance of such conditions.
How did you feel when you saw the screen light up with that result?
It was 6 years in the making, I felt I had finally done justice to this incredible location. I was beyond happy!
Let’s discuss the technicalities – shutterspeed, ISO, aperture, anything else?
1/160 sec exposure, ISO 100, f8.
Body and Lens used?
Nikon Z6 / Nikon 24-200 Z lens
Gitzo Traveller tripod and ball head
Did you edit it the moment you got home or did you leave it in the photo cellar to mature?
I always leave my images to mature a bit, not for any reason, it just seems to happen that way.
Let’s talk about enhancements made in editing
This photo has very minimal adjustments, all done in Lightroom. Slight White balance change and contrast adjustment.
Do you think this image is one of your all-time top 10 photos?
I would say this is easily in my top 10 Drakensberg images, and close to the top ten of all time.
Do you feel you’ve done the location justice and you can move on now?
I feel I have done justice to this location, but this location means so much to me that I will never stop going back.
Any advice for someone wanting to capture an image like this?
Be patient, learn to embrace hiking in bad weather and keep getting out there! One day the conditions will line up!
Is this image for sale as a print?
Yes, find out more about my prints here
A big thank you to Mark Dumbleton for taking the time to answer our questions and his willingness to share the journey of creation behind the image. Below are the details to all his social media – please give them a like and a follow to show your appreciation. If you’d like to learn from him, check out their workshops and most of all, if you absolutely love this photograph, consider buying a print to support the artists.