While on a South American sojourn, Mark Wallace landed in Mindo, Ecuador. Standing right on the edge of a roaring river, Wallace gives us a perfect tutorial on how to use your circular polarizer and neutral density filter set (and a bit of post-production) to create a beautiful image that makes the water look as smooth as glass. Here’s what he has to say:
Gear for Rushing Water Photos
Wallace used the following gear to take his demonstration image:
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III
- Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens
- Benro C1682TV1 Travel Angel II carbon fiber tripod to stabilize the camera during long exposures
- Hoya 77mm (0.6) multi-coated neutral density filter to reduce the light coming through the lens
- 77mm Tiffen Circular polarizer to cut down on the glare from the wet rocks and the gushing water
Wallace used the following settings for his water photo, but recommended settings will vary based on your lighting conditions:
- Aperture priority mode set to f/20. This is to ensure a really wide depth of field and to allow for a slower shutter speed, which creates that glassy smooth effect.
- ISO 100
- 2-second delay shooting so that he can cut down any movement of the camera when the shutter button is pressed
- The test shots revealed that the exposure was off by about one stop (under) so to compensate he used exposure compensation and set his exposure to +1
- Wallace also used bracketing to take five photos in order to get just the shot he wanted.
- Continuous drive mode
The final image required some editing in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Because of the nature of the lighting, there were a lot of shadows on the banks of the river, and the details needed to be retrieved from those areas. Also, the highlights in the image were really treading on the borderline and needed to be slightly tweaked.
The circular filters and the lens Wallace used resulted in some unwanted vignetting at the corners of the frame. He simply used to the crop tool in Lightroom to overcome this problem.
Having bracketed the exposures means Wallace was able to use them to create a HDR image. This is how Wallace’s attempt looked after post-processing:
Do you have other tips for photographing moving water? Let us know with a comment below!
For further training on long exposures: Trick Photography & Special Effects
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