I make no secret of the fact that I love photos of flowing water. And I also make no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of using slow shutter speeds to create that “silky water” effect.
Just recently I got myself a better tripod (and a nice ballhead to go with it), and ever since then I’ve been playing around with this technique a bit more.
I also just recently picked up an ND filter (“neutral density” – basically sunglasses for your lens) and decided to try it out.
ND filters are typically used to darkens a scene evenly, allowing for a slower shutter speed – which lets you blur out any movement… such as flowing water.
Previously, I’d been using my circular polarizing filter as a sort of poor-man’s ND filter. I could still use slow shutter speeds, but I was still somewhat limited by the available light – if it was too bright, I wouldn’t be able to use as slow of a shutter speed as I would have liked. The above photo, for example, was taken in the shade under a bridge in order to allow me the slow shutter speed I wanted.
So when the weather warmed up a bit this past weekend and I found myself at a local park with some streams and rocky cascades, I just had to give it a try.
For a first try, I’m pretty pleased with how these came out. The thing with using slower shutter speeds is that… well, you are using slower shutter speeds – which means you really need to hold the camera steady. In other words, you almost always need to use a tripod (and, ideally, a remote cable release).
Unfortunately, I didn’t have either of those things with me the day I took these shots – these shots are entirely hand-held.
Luckily the exposures I was using weren’t too terribly long, so I was able to get away with hand-holding – but I did have to get a bit creative with how I steadied the camera! The shot above, for example, was taken with the camera resting on the side of my shoe as I sat cross-legged on a rock!
I’m not sure why I’m so fond of this particular type of photographic effect, but I do know that it’s something I’ve been trying to do pretty much ever since I first picked up a digital camera.
Long exposures in general are just kind of fun – to me they imply motion where none exists in a way that I just find really compelling.
In the end of course this is just my taste – I like these kinds of photos, and more importantly I enjoy taking these kinds of photos.