Waterfalls and moving water are a lot of fun to photograph. I’m sure that you’ve all see the wonderful effects that you can get by shooting moving water using a slow shutter speed. The result is an image that has a silky, satiny, almost surreal look across the moving water and the effect can be stunning.
Photographing moving water can be a little tricky. But the good news is that you don’t need a lot of specialized equipment for these types of photos. A camera that features a shutter-priority mode and a good tripod are really all you need. Depending on the weather, a neutral density filter or a polarizing filter may come in handy too.
In terms of technique, here are a few things to keep in mind:
You have to use a tripod for these types of shots. The long exposure time means that hand-holding your camera is a no-no.
The key to getting that beautiful silky look is a long exposure time. With that in mind, you’re better off shooting on an overcast day because the lower light level will allow you to increase your shutter time without over exposing your image.
If you are able to shoot on an overcast day, try to keep the dull, gray clouds out of your photo.
Since you’ll be using a long exposure time, the wind could add a motion blur to areas of your photo. So if there is a breeze, try to keep things that will show movement – foliage, tree branches and flowers – out of your photo.
Filters can come in handy when you’re photographing waterfalls. A neutral density filter will reduce the light coming into your camera and, therefore allow you to increase the shutter long while keeping proper exposure. A polarizing filter will also reduce the light entering your camera, but it will also help to reduce the glare off of wet rocks.
Keep in mind, though, that reducing the light coming into your camera can’t change the fact that shooting in harsh light will still cause bright “hot spots” and dark shadows on your photos.
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f you are just getting started in photography, exposure is one of the first things you need learn.
But even beyond that, getting a good handle on exposure and how the different components of exposure work together is essential if you want to take control of your photography and the images that you are creating.