Friday, August 1, 2014


Serendipity, luck, coincidence. As photographers we will take whatever Mother Nature decides to give us. When you set out in the morning, you probably have a destination in mind, but not a clear sense of what kinds of images will come your way. Famous photographer Minor White had a very Zen view of life, and said that often you come upon a scene just when the gods are ready for you to trip the shutter.

That was definitely the case with this image. It was autumn in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the leaves were turning yellow. On this sunlit day, the sky was blue with very few clouds. I was in search of moving water shots. Many were more typical shots of rushing whitewater in a mountain stream flowing over mossy rocks. But when I saw this, I realized it was something special.

The sunlit yellow leaves reflected in the water provided a golden glow, and the reflected blue sky was the perfect counterpoint. This liquid look of this image is unmistakable. It looks almost like liquid gold.

The best way to get good color in moving water is to shoot either early or late in the day when the stream is in shade, but the trees and shrubs along the far bank are in sun. So the water will be evenly lit with no hotspots and can beautifully reflect the color along the shoreline.

In springtime the colors will be more yellowish green, and in the fall there will be more yellows, golds, oranges, and reds. The clearer the sky, the more blue will be reflected in the water.

Of course when shooting moving water you will need a tripod and a long shutter speed. Experiment with different shutter speeds from about 1/4 sec to several seconds. You never know which one will provide just the look you want.

For good depth of field and sharp images, use an aperture of at least f/11. And to avoid noise (grain) use an ISO of 100.

Shutter Speed 1/3rd sec.  Aperture f/14.  ISO 100.  Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS set to 200mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead, and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water ... has become the victim of his indifference."  --Rachel Carson 

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