Iguazú Falls and the Euphoria of Falling Ions – Dispatch from Argentina
We all have felt the euphoria – the feeling of well-being when walking along a beach with crashing surf, or around waterfalls with thundering cascades, or raging white-water rivers. The effect is created by invisible molecules of air – called ions.
It’s a well-known fact that breathing ions – specifically the negatively charges ones – produce biochemical reactions in the human body that increase levels of the mood-altering chemical serotonin. In nature, negative ions are created as air molecules break apart around moving air and flowing water. Air circulating in mountains, pounding surf, and large waterfalls all contain elevated levels of negative ions. In fact, many air purifiers claim to release negative ions into the room, promoting their positive health effects.
It’s hard to feel tired or depressed near waterfalls, and we found this to be true at Iguazú Falls along the border of Argentina with Brazil. Iguazú Falls forms the widest set of cascades anywhere in the world, being taller (240ft/80m) and more than twice as wide as Niagra Falls (1.8mi/3km). The cascades and the surrounding sub-tropical Atlantic Rain Forest are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a hot spot for bio-diversity, with over 400 species of birds and many endemic plants and trees.
It's counter-intuitive that it's the negative ions bring about positive side effects of being in nature. The act of breathing pure, super-charged molecules of air helps lower stress levels and create a sense of well-being. These effects can also help your photography, enhancing creativity and helping to be more focused on the present moment.
These images here were made on a two-day extension to Iguazú Falls National Park in Argentina with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic.
Required equipment for shooting waterfalls includes a sturdy tripod, polarizing filter, neutral-density filter (4-stop or Variable), graduated-ND filter (2-stop/soft-edge). These images were made with a Canon EOS 1DX, 16-35mm. 24-105mm, 70-300mm and Singh-Ray filters, all from B&H PhotoVideo. Be sure to experiment, varying shutter speeds and playing with different depth-of-fields by adjusting the aperture.
Our visit to the cascades in the rain forest was a fitting culmination to an expedition that took us Ushuaia across the Southern Ocean to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), South Georgia Island, Orkney Island, and the White Continent of Antarctica.
Re-entry into the modern world after spending time in wild places is always challenging, so what better way to ease the stress than with a blissful visit to the more than 250 waterfalls found at Iguazú. Feel the euphoria and photograph what you feel.
Safe travels, always.
Ralph Lee Hopkins, Buenos Aires, Argentina