It’s beautiful outside – go take some pictures

We’re starting to get into spring/summer mode.  Bikes are coming out, the occasional hike,  walking around the lake.  This is also a good time to photograph nature; the cold of winter is gone so we’re more at ease using our gear in the outdoors.  If you’ve seen those great pictures of silky running water and always wanted to try to create that effect this short article will walk you through the steps.

First, scout a location.  You don’t need a dramatic waterfall – although that’s always nice to find.  A small running stream flowing over the rocks will work just fine.  Are the leaves in season?  If they are – great – include them in the frame.  If the trees are looking kind of bare,  frame the rocks and water tighter and include less of the surrounding foliage. Look for bends in the water – S shapes are visually more interesting than straight lines.

Look to shoot early or later in the day.  Midday harsh sunlight won’t look great.  You can also wait for a grey overcast day – perfect weather for nature shooting.

Bring a tripod.  You will be keeping your shutter open far longer than you can handhold.  That’s the trick to getting the silky water effect.  No tripod, no silky water (although you can use the self-timer and set the camera on a rock/tree stump and let it count down and trigger the shutter).

If you have a polarized filter use it.  You will need to darken the scene to get a longer exposure (again, for the silky water effect).

Use shutter priority mode or manual metering mode.  You want a shutter speed of 1/2 second or slower (hence, the tripod). Watch for blinking highlights.  If they are blinking you’ve overexposed the image and need to adjust the aperture to a bigger number (smaller opening). It is an iterative process – expose, check, adjust, repeat.

Smell the roses.  You’re in the great outdoors, taking pictures of nature’s beauty – don’t forget to enjoy your surroundings.


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