Smooth Water and Shutter Speed


TPF Noob!
Jun 13, 2006
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St George, Utah
How's it going guys?

Well, I've ran into a little problem. I know it's an easy answer, but I just need some help...

I was at some waterfalls and stuff, and I know I can leave the shutter open longer for smooth water and blurred effects... but the shutter (obviously) lets in more light as it is open. So I find myself leaving the shutter open and getting wayyy too much light for me to do anything with the picture. I know this is such a stupid question... but how do you guys do Smooth water/waterfall pictures? What are your settings in high-light areas?

Any tips are appreciated, thanks for putting up with me.

Big Mike

I am Big, I am Mike
Staff member
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Dec 16, 2003
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As you leave the shutter open longer, you have to close down the aperture to compensate. When I shoot running water like this, I set the aperture to as small as I can (F22 or F29 etc.)

It helps to use slow film or set your ISO to the lowest setting (ISO 100).

If you still can't get a long enough shutter speed, without overexposing, then you need to use a Neutral Density filter. ND filters block light without making any other effects.

I was recently hiking by a small river and I wished that I had a ND filter because I also found that I couldn't get a slow enough shutter speed.

Another option is to just wait until there is less light...dawn/dusk etc.

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