I’m always looking for simple graphic images in any chaotic environment. The river at Ken Lockwood Gorge is filled with so many photographic opportunities. I spent a fair amount of time in this one river location working the composition and waiting for the light. I’m sure the hikers who passed me coming and going were curious as to what I was shooting. Was I photographing a fish? Was it a cool Amphibian? No, it was a lone rock in the water.
There are 3 main elements that caught my eye: the colors reflecting into the water, the way the water was moving around the rock itself and finally the distinct shape and colors on the rock. Presenting those 3 elements in a neat and tidy composition is the challenge.
My 70-200 allowed for the tighter composition and I purposely positioned the subject low in the crop and used the rest of the frame to enhance the story. Next, taking a cue from Dean Cobin’s blog (see below….thanks Dean) and his use of neutral density filters I broke out my 4 stop ND filter. This filter doesn’t get to see the light of day very often but coupled with my polarizer it gave me about six additional stops to play with. Having the ability to shoot with a longer exposure allowed the cascades to be soft and white. The curves of the water are essential elements in the composition without over powering the rock.
Learn to shoot long exposures and you will really start to gain creative control of your images. It’s actually very simple and lots of fun. Here are the basic’s ; you will need a tripod mounted camera and a simple understanding of how to increase the length of your exposure time, you’ll also need something to shoot such as a stream, rushing water at the beach or clouds on breezy day . Once you pick your scene go head and meter your shot. In this example I will be shooting in aperture priority so once I set my f stop the camera will choose the correct shutter speed accordingly.
Take your exposure and keep track of the exposure time. Now comes the question how do we extend the length of the exposure and the answer is we need to block some light, the first and simplest way to do that is to “stop down” or close down your aperture. This means to move it to a higher number. Remember that for every stop you add you are decreasing the amount of light by half or doubling the exposure time. For example if your first exposure ended up being ¼ second then by stopping down to the next stop your next exposure should end up being ½ a second which is an eternity in photographic terms , if you stopped down again your exposure would end up being a full second long . You might ask what happens when I run out of stops on my lens, where here’s where it gets more interesting you can also control the light by putting something called a Neutral Density Filter in front of your lens which I will leave for another discussion.
Light is the big factor here and if you want to realize immediate success when trying this I suggest you attempt this during very early light or very late light the results you can achieve with just your lens will be quite significant. The image posted here was slightly more difficult to capture because It was shot at noon , but with the aid of an overcast sky and a variable neutral density filter I was able to extend this exposure to 4 seconds which creates a dreamy effect for the pour off’s and strong flow lines in the water which add the intended effect for my composition. Try it I think you will really enjoy the effects and never be afraid to take risks with your creativity that’s what makes us all unique. Of course there are countless hours of reading and info on this subject on line which I strongly encourage you to explore…