Water In Motion

October 07, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I was recently asked, "How to photograph water in motion?"  The objective here is to achieve the tranquility of water flowing over the rocks of a waterfall.

The sense of motion comes from allowing the moving water to blur that portion of the image while the rest of the image is photographed Water In Motion normally.  This shot is most easily and surely accomplished with a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera.  I will address how to shoot the scene with a Point 'N Shot camera in a moment.

To blur the motion of the water using a DSLR, go to manual mode and keep the shutter open longer than normal to expose the moving water long enough to capture the motion blur.  The following steps will accomplish this:

  • Set the camera to manual mode; either Aperture of Shutter priority.  Now you have control of the duration of the exposure.
  • Select a slow shutter speed, between 1/2 and 2 seconds, which is long enough to capture a pleasing amount of motion blur in the water.
  • Lower the camera ISO to 100.  The lower ISO setting will cause your camera to calculate a longer exposure to compensate for the slower sensor speed selected.
  • Mount the camera on a tripod.  This is very important!  With the longer exposure, yes, you want to blur the moving water.  But you also want the rest of the image to be clear and in focus.  So, mounting the camera on a tripod is critical to achieving your shot.
  • Use a remote trigger (if possible) or the camera's self-timer to take the picture.  This final point is  important to keep the camera still when activating the shutter.  The remote trigger is ideal.  If you don't have one, use the camera's self-timer to trigger the shot.

 

Dancing Waters

If your camera is a Point 'N Shoot, look for the Scene Select feature.  This may also be called the "Best Shot" feature.  My Point 'N Shoot camera has the scene selections "Flowing water" to blur water and "Splashing water" to freeze the motion of the water.  As above, use a tripod and remote trigger or self-timer to steady the camera and get a clear shot.

But what if you really want to capture the image of water creating the moment as in the "Dancing Waters" fountain,  use a faster shutter speed and higher ISO.  The tripod and remote trigger, while helpful, are not as necessary.

So the conclusion... to photograph water in motion, it's all about shutter speed!

 

 

 

 


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