Slow Motion Photography

I come from a family where it’s very hard to impress them with my artsy pictures. One of the few exceptions happened recently when my sister commented that a series of water shots I had shown her looked like paintings. That was close enough to a compliment for me!

What she was responding to was one of my favorite types of photographs: slow motion water. Those images are created by finding a nice composition with running water and then forcing the camera’s shutter to stay open for a second or two, creating a soft, flowing effect of the water, while all of the other elements in the scene stay nice and sharp.

You can create a painting effect with moving water by mounting your camera on a tripod and slowing the shutter speed to an exposure of one second or longer.

You’ll need a tripod to steady the camera during the long exposure and you should probably use the self-timer to trip the shutter. If your camera has an aperture priority setting, use it and set it to f-8, f-11 or f-16, if possible. That will give you greater depth of field and cause the shutter to slow down.

Ideally, you’ll want an exposure of one second or longer to create a flowing effect of the water. That means you’ll probably want to look for streams and waterfalls that are in the shade instead of bright sunlight. Another trick is to use your sunglasses over the lens to darken the scene and create an even longer exposure. Plus, you get the added bonus of eliminating distracting reflections from your composition. Happy shooting!

~ Ramachandran Kumaraswami