To honor the incredibly wild and wet weather we have lately endured and enjoyed in Washington, DC, I took a quick search through the online Smithsonian collections for waterfalls. I imagine the water is running quite high—in nature, not I hope in the archives—this time of year. Several collections stood out, including the views made by 19th century photographs for expeditions to all parts of the world and the mid-20th century images made by Eliot Elisofon on assignment in Africa for magazines or corporate clients. Whether as unbridled nature or harnessed for industrial use, waterfalls figure as a prominent landscape subject.
Merry Foresta is the Former Director of the Smithsonian Photography Initiative.