Photographing Rivers & Motion in Water

moving water

For those beginner photographers out there that are interested in shooting rivers, waterfalls, or streams, this post is for you.

The other day I went with my family up Big Cottonwood Canyon that is just outside Salt Lake City. There is a great river that runs down the canyon and I knew that I would have an opportunity to play around with the shutter speed. I wanted to post some of the example images so that you can get an idea of how to achieve different looks when photographing water.

Obviously the longer the shutter speed the more motion blur you will have in the water. Take a look below at the different images and the shutter speeds.

4 Second Exposure
4 Second Exposure
2 Second Exposure
2 Second Exposure
0.6 Second Exposure
0.6 Second Exposure
1/4 Second Exposure
1/4 Second Exposure
1/10 Second Exposure
1/10 Second Exposure
1/20 Second Exposure
1/20 Second Exposure
1/50 Second Exposure
1/50 Second Exposure
1/100 Second Exposure
1/100 Second Exposure
1/500 Second Exposure
1/500 Second Exposure

After all is said and done the BEST way to learn is to experiment. The only way you are going to learn how to achieve a certain look is to try and try again. I have only taken a few formal photography classes. I wish I could have taken more while I was in college, but they didn’t let Business majors take too many courses that weren’t in the business school. I have learned most of what I know from trial and error.

When I first started to go out shooting landscapes and such, a lot of times the photographs that I thought would turn out AWESOME only turned out to be so so, and vice versa, the photographs that I thought would be garbage turned out to be great. After much experimentation and time behind the camera you start to develop a sense for what will turn out good, or a sense of how to achieve a certain look or shot.

The most important thing to remember to is just go out. I have a lot of friends that buy cameras and they want to learn how to take great pictures but they never get past learning how to use the camera. Once you have mastered your camera’s controls and start using manual modeyou are in for the real fun.

Just remember, life is like photography, we develop from the negatives.

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