View Full Version : Water fall slow or fast speed

10-22-2010, 08:40 PM
We have been given a task to take a picture of a water fall with both slow and fast shutter speed. When I looked at the results I could not decide which gave the better image.
http://i26.servimg.com/u/f26/15/76/39/01/imgp9310.jpg (http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=17&u=15763901)
This combination image uses both 1/250 second and 3 seconds which yesterday was the limits of my camera and lens at 1:30pm UTC. The aperture full open was f3.5 and closed was f22 and ISO was 1600 and 100 so unless I used a different lens or neutral density filters they were the two extremes.

Since with old film cameras one would have had problems freezing motion as very few films had speeds high enough to freeze the motion in the shade often found around water falls that could still be used in bright sun light at other end of scale. Only with digital cameras where we could select the ISO for each frame did we stand a chance of freezing motion or use fixed lens with the better f stop.

So which method to others use? Slow or fast and why? If I had not carried the tripod to location it would also have been hard to get cream effect.

Cape Bretoner
10-22-2010, 08:58 PM
I just posted this pic this afternoon !

iso 100
exposure time 15sec
focal length 17mm


10-22-2010, 10:05 PM
I'm a little confused why you did a combination of slow and fast in the same picture. To me it looks a little strange to have the silky water and then have the frozen water come out from it.

Mad Aussie
10-23-2010, 03:14 AM
I think one way or the other personally. I usually look at the waterfall and decide what I want the outcome to be. If the light and scene it self is serene then I'll usually choose a slow speed and go for the veiled look. If I want to really show the delicate nature of the water (usually in a closer shot as opposed to a wider composition) I'll ramp up the speed and freeze the water. If I want to represent the scene as close to how I saw it then something in between usually works.

Wicked Dark
10-23-2010, 08:31 AM
I've done waterfalls both ways, rapids, too. It depends on mood and what I'm trying to achieve/convey much like Mad Aussie said. I found the remnants of an old mill once and decided on a fast shutter speed because I think it conveys the 'brook as power source' idea more effectively than would a smoothed out shot. When I do want that silky water look I use a polarizer or a neutral density filter to keep my lens aperture in the sweet spot whenever possible. And yeah, a tripod is a must. Overcast or pre-sunrise light is also key, otherwise you get lots of blown out highlights.

10-25-2010, 11:12 PM
WOW, I've never thought of a combination shot quite like this! Fantastic!

10-29-2010, 04:17 PM
i generally prefer a slower shutter speed for waterfalls... never shoot more than 2-3 seconds unless i have to - there's no point - but unless i am trying to capture droplets or splashes in mid-air, i always opt for the slower shutter speed. generally something in the 1/2 sec to 1 sec range will produce the results i need, and i can usually get that with an ND or polarizer and ISO 50, so i don't need to stop down too far.