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panthrcat

slow shutter speeds

14 posts in this topic

well I blew it. mad

last weekend I was on an adventure (I'll have plenty of pics to post when I get them pp) and wanted to get some of those famous "silky" shots of the water, but I blew them out so badly,, any ideas on ISO, aperture and f/stops sure would be appreciated. I see so many fantastic shots of running water, and want to try it out.

thanks smile

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You need an ND filter. Well, you don't "need", but it will sure make your job a lot easier. Otherwise I would experiment with ISO as low as possible, and aperture as high as possible.

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A couple of pointers that may or may not help.

-It really helps if you have diffused lighting, not a bright sunny day. A location in the trees will knock down the light, or clouds that are killing direct sunlight.

-Shooting with a polarizing filter or a Neutral density filter like Sanka mentioned. This allows you cut down on the light to your camera sensor which will give you longer shutter speeds. A polarizer can add some pop by cutting down on reflection glare.

-I would start with an ISO of 100 and an aperture of f22 or greater to give you slow shutter speeds. The longer you can keep that shutter open the more silky smooth the water will look.

-Try and get at least 1 to 2 seconds shutter speed by adjusting the above settings. 15 or 20 seconds would be even more ideal but you will need a lot of help from diffused lighting and filters to get in that range.

-Take a number of shots at different shutter speeds or bracket to keep your exposures in check. You don't want to blow out the whites of the water.

Steve and Ken both posted some beautiful examples within the past month or so with silky smooth water shots. A quick search or just go back a page or two and you will find them.

Of course a good tripod, shutter release or self timer are always needed, especially for long exposures like this. Good luck I bet it will work a bit better next time out.

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oh yea? well then I will look for one of those,, and I think I should get a polorizer filter too then,, right?

I am going to British Comumbia in a month, and hope to have tons of scenic potential shots,, I am thinking that both of these filters will come in handy for that,, right?

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Dan, you and I must have been posting the same time, I didn't see your post till I returned from shopping at [YouNeedAuthorization]. crazy

I wanted to ask about the ND filter,, I see there are several "strengths" ND2, ND4, ND8.. I want to purchase one today so it'll get to me before I leave for my trip,, I'm going to buy a polorizer and a ND filter today

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oops,, I see where I was shopping was deleted,, sorry moderatores,,

thanks Dan for your suggestions

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Shooting sunlit water will normally force you to compensate by at least 1 1/2 stops to even maybe 2 stops. Check your histo frequently.

Several years ago, while at a premier brown bear viewing area in Alaska, I took photos of the bears catching salmon at the top of the falls. The falls was sunlit and I remembering compensating a whole 2 stops. The bears turned out looking perfect, although the water was still a bit bright. Then again, the consumer processing with the cheap high contrast photo paper, didn't help either.

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Sue, great advice from Dan. What body are you shooting now?

I do a lot of silky water shots, and with flowing water you'll want shutter speeds of at least 2 seconds, and longer often is better. You can just let the meter take care of business in most cases. I generally use evaluative metering and rarely have blown highlights in water. If you're shooting RAW, you can easily recover blown highlights using the RAW preview screen in whatever version of Photoshop you have. I've recovered highlights blown out two full stops that way before. If you have Photoshop, you might give that a try with the images you've got. In fact, there have been a few times when filters and available light were such that I couldn't get a ss quite as slow as I liked, and I purposely used EC to overexpose the shot, knowing I could recover the blow highlights. Going one stop over will lengthen a shutter speed from 2 seconds to 4 seconds, or from 4 to 8 or 8 to 16, etc., and for silky water, gaining a couple seconds can be a big help.

If you don't have a CP or neutral density filter, you can avoid the need for them by shooting after sunset or before sunrise, while there is still some light but while it is very dim. With ambient light that low and iso at 100 and aperture stopped all the way down, you can achieve those slow shutter speeds without filters.

A sturdy tripod and a remote shutter release (or the camera's self timer) are vital, as Dan mentioned. You can use your camera's mirror lock-up feature to avoid the shutter slap that can shake the camera when you trip the shutter. That's more important at shutter speeds of a second or two, but becomes less important at longer shutter speeds, because at, say, 8 seconds, the fragment of a second the mirror slap causes the camera to tremble is such a small part of the overall shutter speed that the image will still be sharp.

It's also worth noting that you can use longer lenses to get slower shutter speeds. Most wide angles only stop down to f22, but my 100 f2.8 macro stops down to f32 and my 200 f2.8L to f45. You can set up farther away from your subject if the situation allows and get those slower shutter speeds with longer lenses, or you can also focus on a detail composition for some of your work instead of traditional wide angle landscapes. The wider the angle (and the smaller the water is within the frame) the longer the shutter speed required to make the water look cottony.

As a side note, stopping the aperture down that far will bring every little dust speck on your sensor into the image, which doesn't happen as much at wide open apertures, so it's a good idea to clean the sensor before going for cottony water. Even after cleaning you'll see some specks, but they are easy enough to clone out in pp.

Below is one of the images I generally show for teaching/learning purposes. It was shot with the original Digital Rebel and the Canon 100-400 at 170mm. Iso100, 8 sec at f32, tripod, self timer, circular polarizer. It was a sunny day, but a very dark cloud had covered the sun for a few minutes, which explains why I was able to get the slow shutter speed but still see blue highlights in the reflections caused by the wet rocks.

3445222809_d0772a30f2_o.jpg

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Steve - thanks for the great info. I'll be looking for small streams and ponds to try this!!

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It's a lot of fun, Debbie. Every nature photographer should have a few silky water images in his/her portfolio. They're probably overdone by photogs, but they're overdone precisely because they're so popular among non-photogs. smilesmile

When I want to shoot them in the near dark, I go out earlier in the day to scout the location, which allows me to be in position as the sky starts to darken in the evening. If one goes out with the same intent before sunrise, it only works when it's a location you already know or you've scouted previously.

My favorite silky water location up here (with the amber tannin stained water in the photograph shown) is down in a rift in the ridges, which makes it darker except when the sun hits it in the middle of the day.

There are so many variables with water speed and turbulence, as well as shutter speed, that a person can spend a lot of time experimenting to get different effects.

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Sweet stuff. My camera only goes to f8. Am I out of luck to try this?

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Not sure. You'll probably want to experiment in near darkness a bit. Do you know the longest shutter speed your camera is capable of automatically? It'll need to be several seconds at least.

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Sue, great advice from Dan. What body are you shooting now?

Steve, I shoot with the EOS 40D, I have a good tripod,, I don't have a shutter release yet,, but am looking at one soon,, also as you talked about in the body of your message, I have photoshop cs3, and yes, I always shoot in RAW... with that said,, I know I have the gear to pull off a nice shot, just don't have the know-how just yet,, I can't even begin to thank you for the time you put into explaining things to me (and so many others here) I truly appreciate all your advice and tips on photo tricks you've learned and are so willing to share,,

a special thank you to Dan too, for your willingness to share and give me tips too!! you guys ROCK!!!!

that image you attached is stunning! I can only dream of taking such gorgeous shots!!

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Sue, thanks again for the kudos.

You should try to recover the blown highlights in some of your RAW images from the other day using the RAW preview screen in PS. Or maybe you tried already?

One thing I try to do usually with cottony water is to include subjects that are unmoving and sharp. You'll note that in the image above the leaf and the rocks are sharp, and that sets off the motion implied by the water.

It's hard to get good wide landscape fuzzy water images of waterfalls in forests because, even on a calm day, the waterfull creates its own air currents, and that moves the leaves around it and they are soft at long exposures. Of course, a person can turn that negative into a positive if they know how to . . . but that's another thread. smilesmile

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