Cool off with these stunning shots of one of nature’s most dramatic forces.
Hydrology’s usually a bit of a dry subject. But when the study of water’s movement across Earth helps us understand how
waterfalls work, it becomes very dramatic indeed.
Hurtling over cliffs, forging canyons, and sometimes creating their own clouds, waterfalls’ relentless course reshapes the landscape around them. From Iguazu Falls, which splits a border between
Argentina and Brazil with nearly half a million cubic feet of water every second, to Angel Falls, which plummets into the Venezuelan forest from a height of nearly two-thirds of a mile, spectacular cascades attract tens of millions of tourists every year.
Some of those visitors have cameras—like the members of National Geographic’s
Your Shotphotography community who captured the pictures in this gallery. They often trekked miles on end, stood deep in freezing water, or waited patiently for hours in order to snag the perfect shot.
Take a look at these dazzling pictures—and get inspired to
join the global Your Shot community and share your own photos.
“The night left a thin layer of snow over the highest mountains [in] fresh air that is difficult to have in our cities,” describes photographer Alessandro Mari. Here, the runoff from Iceland’s most photographed mountain forms a waterfall. PHOTOGRAPH BY ALESSANDRO MARI, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Icy conditions made this shot a challenge: “Water spray was constantly refreezing to my lens, so I had to frequently wipe it down,” says photographer Ed Graham. PHOTOGRAPH BY ED GRAHAM, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Over 400 feet high, with a waterflow of one ton per second, Japan’s tallest waterfall is the center of worship at the Kumano Nachi Grand Shrine. PHOTOGRAPH BY HIDENOBU SUZUKI, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
The Banaue Rice Terraces, sometimes called the Eighth Wonder of the World, envelop this high waterfall. “One could feel the spray hundreds of feet back and hear the sound of the roar five times [further than] that,” says photographer Joel Bear. PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL BEAR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
A horseback rider overlooks a broad cascade in Iceland. PHOTOGRAPH BY SURANGA WEERATUNGA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
A visitor is dwarfed by the cascading water and mist of one of Iceland’s famous waterfalls. PHOTOGRAPH BY WITOLD ZIOMEK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Moody weather shadows a cataract in Patagonia. PHOTOGRAPH BY LIANA MANUKYAN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
This falls of the Campbell River blankets the surrounding rock with an icy spray. PHOTOGRAPH BY EIKO JONES, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
After driving 11 hours straight, photographer Casey Horner “was quite surprised that the parking lot was nearly empty, as this is one of the most photographed places on the West Coast … luckily, [there was] a single person on the bridge … in the perfect place for me to grab this [shot].” PHOTOGRAPH BY CASEY HORNER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Stirling Falls plummets from a height of nearly 500 feet in Fjorland National Park. “I went speechless when taking this photograph, standing on the deck of the boat right underneath in the spray of pure glacial water,” says photographer Leona Chorazyova. PHOTOGRAPH BY LEONA CHORAZYOVA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
In late April, snowmelt increases the flow of the iconic, 2,425-foot waterfall. PHOTOGRAPH BY JEB BUCHMAN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
“One of my favorite parks,” says photographer Gosha L. The Yellowstone River flows through two major falls, the Upper and Lower, before reaching the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. PHOTOGRAPH BY GOSHA L., NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
The famous falls (actually composed of three separate cataracts) has the highest flow rate in North America and attracts about 30 million tourists a year. “After spending three hours in the cold, I could barely feel most of my body, but my soul was bursting with excitement,” says photographer Isabelle DF. PHOTOGRAPH BY ISABELLE DF, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
“This small southern beech tree … caught my eye just as we were about to head back down the track to the township,” says photographer Wynston Cooper. “It’s an example of what one can see by spending time at a location: It was right at the end of my visit that I noticed that the light had changed.” PHOTOGRAPH BY WYNSTON COOPER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Colorful clouds roll over the falls, seen from the popular South Rim overlook known as Artist Point. PHOTOGRAPH BY RAYMOND CHOO, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Nearly 200 feet wide, this popular waterfall is one of Sweden’s largest. PHOTOGRAPH BY CALLE HÖGLUND, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Faced with tourists swimming at the base of the 230-foot-tall falls, photographer Victor Lima says “I realized that I could try using people to give sense of scale to the image.” Lima’s image was chosen as the December 2015/January 2016 cover of National Geographic Traveler. PHOTOGRAPH BY VICTOR LIMA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
A tall waterfall cascades off a promontory of Vagar, one of the North Atlantic’s autonomous Faroe Islands (officially Danish territory). “One hour after arrival, the sky cleared up for a very short moment when the clouds were roaring past the mountain ridge,” says photographer Haitong Yu. PHOTOGRAPH BY HAITONG YU, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
After a two-hour-trek, photographer Marc Henauer found one of the Swiss river’s many cataracts, venturing into the chillingly cold water to snap this shot of a place “like a jewel…the most difficult to reach and a true gift of nature.” PHOTOGRAPH BY MARC HENAUER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
A visitor gazes into the gorge formed by this powerful waterfall in southern Iceland. PHOTOGRAPH BY RUSSELL PEARSON, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Trees diffuse the light of the setting sun across this tiered waterfall on Tasmania’s west coast. PHOTOGRAPH BY JIEFEI WANG, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Taking its name from a Tagalog word meaning “hidden,” this remote but popular cascade can only be reached by descending 500 winding steps. PHOTOGRAPH BY KATHLEEN TUGANO, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Water still runs beneath the icy shell of this waterfall in Banff National Park. PHOTOGRAPH BY KATHLEEN CROFT, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
“After getting lost, trekking down a dirt hill for a mile, only trusting the sound of roaring waters to lead the way, working around the mist spraying on my lens, and ignoring the bone chilling water I had to stand in to capture this shot, I came back with memories and a photo that will stick with me forever,” says photographer Benito Martinez. PHOTOGRAPH BY BENITO MARTINEZ, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
These two waterfalls were artificially created beneath a stone bridge. PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS VASILIADIS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT