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One of my favorite things to shoot is water.  Falling water, flowing water, still water, reflections in puddles…and let’s not forget frozen water in glaciers and icebergs!  It’s all good.

I remember how delighted I was when I first learned how to make “cotton candy” water images.  There’s really no mystery to it other than using a slow enough shutter speed to blur the water to a pleasing level.  Of course what’s pleasing to the individual photographer will vary.  I usually shoot at 2 seconds, but pleasing effects can be achieved with a shutter speed as fast as 1/8th of a second.  Of course, even that’s still too slow to hand-hold.  This particular image was shot at 1.3 seconds.  So a  sturdy tripod is critical!

Ideally the entire region of water that you’re shooting in the blurred images is evenly lit, and even more ideally, it’s all in shadow.  That’s because sometimes it’s too bright to get enough blur.  That is, even with your slowest ISO, and the aperture stopped down as far as it’ll go, your shutter speed will still be too high to achieve enough blur for the look you’re after.  Some people compensate for this by using multi-stop darkening filters, but I prefer to just go out very early in the morning or very late in the evening.  This is often even before sunrise or after sunset, although in a deep canyon or under heavy tree cover it can be later in the morning and earlier in the evening.

I like to keep  my compositions simple.  When you’re shooting a stream or waterfall with lots of fallen logs and overhanging branches and mossy rocks and fallen leaves, it’s easy to get too much clutter in your image.  Simplify, simplify!

This image has an old log in the upper left hand corner, and a newly sprouted dogwood branch in the lower right hand corner.  You could say it represents the old and the new, Fall and Spring, death and rebirth, the cycle of life, etc.

Or you could just enjoy it as a pretty picture taken on an April day in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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