Capturing Moving Water

September 20, 2014

The Photo Assignment for the October 2014 Light Painters Meeting is “Moving Water.”  This theme/subject gives us a chance to stretch our slow shutter speed muscles.  It also allows us  to practice the fast shutter speed technique to freeze the motion, but most cameras will do that automatically, anyway.

It is quite possible to convey the feeling of moving water with a fast shutter speed (1/500 sec. or faster) to freeze the motion of dramatic waves such as you would find in a stormy sea, but beautiful things happen when you go in the opposite direction and capture the movement of water on a slow shutter speed (usually 1/20 sec. or slower).

Below are two photos I found at a stock photo site–(full disclosure-I am not the photographer). The first one demonstrates how a fast shutter speed will freeze the motion of the spray as the wave hits the rocks.  The second one demonstrates the lovely flow of the water over the rocks, which is how it looks in real life, but a camera may not capture that flow if the shutter is too fast.

Fast Shutter speed sample


Slow shutter speed sample

Below – this one is up for debate. Why do you know the water is moving?

These are samples of the technique. I purposely did not use any image of other types of moving water – faucets, streams, fountains, etc., because I did not want to bias your creativity and imagination. And, feel free to use the beach scenes like above if you wish.

So get shooting and remember to post up to 5 of your favorites in the Flickr Group!

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