This is a follow-up to my previous post about using slow shutter speeds. I wanted to elaborate on the water theme a little bit so here goes.
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The shutter speed to use with moving water is one of the more interesting issues in landscape photography. Some prefer a fast shutter to freeze the water, and others prefer a long shutter speed to smooth out the water. And some people prefer something in between, and then of course “it depends”.
I’ve liked the smooth water effect so much that I succeeded in taking my favourite waterfall picture already in 2004 using good old film. This is a detail of the AnderssjÃ¶Ã¥fallet waterfall in HÃ¤rjedalen and believe it or not but I have not photographed the falls since then – maybe it’s because I know that I can’t improve on this one and every time I look at the falls, I just see this slide in my head. It is a fairly abstract picture, one that is stripped out of everything but the very basics (even the colour is gone, although this is not B&W), making it a very simple capture which to me is a perfect example a quiet picture. Now imagine this same image, but with a fast shutter speed which captures every drop of water. Would you still say that it is “quiet”?
I posted the AnderssjÃ¶Ã¥fallet picture on Fotosidan a few years ago and someone commented that the water was unnatural. Absolutely correct, I admit it’s 100% unnatural and I didn’t argue with them and I never will, but it got me thinking – where is it written that nature photography should be “natural”? We only have our own photographic visions, and there’s no right or wrong with them. Every vision is equally valid, every shutter speed used with moving water is equally good, the only thing different is your own taste and I respect that. Smoothing out water is just one way of manipulating the subject, but the manipulation really starts already when you choose your composition and focal length. So when is photography ever really natural? It’s all just a photographer’s vision and you choose the means which fulfill your vision. It’s all good!
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I browsed through my waterfall pictures but the pair of images above was the only one where I could actually show a comparison between slow and fast shutter speeds. Pictures are taken in June 2006 at the SveÃ¥n creek which falls into Ljusnan at Ramundberget.3 comments