10 Years of Horse Shoe Falls

Having recently uploaded a photo to Flickr from Horse Shoe Falls the other week, I was reminded that I have 2 other photos uploaded of the same photo, but now all 3 photos are with different camera bodies. Like with Cape Deslacs, I thought it would be fun to show the differences 10 years can make.

Horse Shoe Falls

This first photo was taken in May 2009 on a Canon EOS 400D body with my favourite Sigma 10-20mm lens. Nice flows of water over the falls being late autumn but the most striking thing to me about this photo is that it is under-exposed in an attempt to preserve the highlights of the cascading water. Because of this and the small 12.1MP APS-C sensor, much of the detail has been lost in the shadow areas of the photo.

Looking through the previous photos I have around this, it becomes apparent it was a sunny day, resulting in deeper shadows, which exacerbate the issues with the shadows.

Horseshoe Falls

Fast forward 5 years and we are now at May 2014, almost 5 years to the day since the first photo. This time we have the same lens, but a Canon EOS 60D camera body, boasting some 50% more mega pixels than the EOS 400D. Less water is flowing over the falls.

Apparently I have learnt about adjusting shadows and highlights – a good thing as this was another sunny day according to the other photos. Gone is the tacky black border and we now have a watermark that looks a bit more unique.

I do appear to have been overly confident with the use of the saturation tool though, which has resulted in a slight yellow tint to the mosses and ferns. Looking at the photo, I believe the camera focus point was still on the waterfall, as the foreground rocks appear to have a slightly softer focus which doesn’t especially pick up the moss textures.

To me, the lighting is still a little bit off, with it being a bit contrasty due to the sunny day.

Horseshoe Falls 2020

Finally we reach the most recent photo, taken 6 years later in February 2020. This photo sees a new camera and lens – a full-frame Canon EOS 6D with the 24-105mm F4 L lens. The EOS 6D is a 20.2 MP Camera – not much more than the 60D. The most striking thing to me in this latest image is the lighting and the colour.

I feel this was largely due to the overcast conditions, which was different to the previous two photos providing a much more even light conditions. The colours are also a lot more true to the environment, with a better green throughout the image.

At this point my watermark has changed again and is less prominent in the lower right. I have come around to the view that watermarks do not really stop photo theft as they can be cropped or cloned out. It is better to use a service like Pixsy than to spend time worrying about photo theft.

Also notable in this photo is the overall detail and sharpness. It is definitely sharper than the 2014 image, particularly around the rocks in the centre/lower section of the image. I have been shooting with manual focus recently and my photos have been significantly sharper as a result. It does make me wonder if there is an issue with the AF in my 6D.

3 photos, almost all taken 5 years apart. There is definitely a big jump between the 2009 and 2014 photo and some more subtle differences between the 2014 and 2020 photo.

Definitely the MP size of the sensor makes a difference. There is a significant difference in fidelity between 12MP of the EOS 400D and the 20.2MP of the EOS 6D. To be honest, I don’t feel like the change from the Sigma lens to the Canon L lens has made that much of an impact.

This is one of those situations where I think it would be difficult to do any better with this photo. The only difference to be had would be that of more water flow across the falls. The Parks service have (rightly) fenced off easy access to the falls and surrounds – a sign of the additional safety required with the greater number of tourists visiting each year.