Cool Water Effects

 

I have often seen pictures, in your magazine as well, in which flowing water looks strange and silky smooth. Later, I learned that this was the effect of slow shutterspeeds and long exposures. However, when I tried to attempt the same technique while shooting a waterfall, I ended up with blown out images. Is there an image editing software that can help me with this or do I need in-camera settings?
Hansraj Vyas, Mumbai

This article was originally published in June 2013.

A Neutral Density filter helps you use slow shutterspeeds in the daytime, which give waterfalls a surreal look. Photograph/ Matt Marshall

A Neutral Density filter helps you use slow shutterspeeds in the daytime, which give waterfalls a surreal look. Photograph/ Matt Marshall

Slow shutterspeeds render any moving object as a blur. This includes flowing water, which ends up looking like a smooth, misty sheet instead of frozen splashes. Of course, since the shutter is open for longer, more light enters the camera, thus causing the frame to get overexposed.

To correct this, you need to use the narrowest possible aperture, but even this may give you blown out images, which cannot be corrected by any image editing software. What you can do is use a Neutral Density (ND) filter, which is essentially a filter that limits the amount of light hitting the sensor. You need to compose the frame and focus before you screw on the filter.

Tags: flowing water, long exposure, ND filter, Question of the Day, slow shutterspeed, water effects