Go with the flow

NPhoto - - Special Feature -

What’s the ef­fect? When you want to cap­ture the drama of a cloud for­ma­tion by freez­ing the clouds, yet have enough move­ment in the fore­ground to en­sure, say, a river ap­pears to be flow­ing rather than com­pletely frozen, you have to care­fully con­sider your shut­ter speed. If you use too long an ex­po­sure, the clouds will start to blur and this can be un­set­tling to any­one look­ing at your pic­ture. Clouds look good with ei­ther a short enough ex­po­sure to freeze them or a re­ally long ex­po­sure to get lots of move­ment (see page 35); any­thing in be­tween can be­gin to look odd. Too long an ex­po­sure would also run the risk of los­ing tex­ture in the wa­ter and burn­ing out high­lights.

What’s the time? The op­ti­mal shut­ter speed of 1/5 sec was the per­fect com­pro­mise here, en­abling me to achieve a flow­ing river with tex­ture in the wa­ter and yet freeze the clouds and show their mas­sive, bil­low­ing shape. I wanted to cap­ture the swiftly mov­ing clouds over the Cuillins on the Isle of Skye be­fore they drifted out of the scene. Even so, tim­ing was as im­por­tant as it is when cap­tur­ing waves. I waited un­til they were over the moun­tains to give the im­pres­sion of an erupt­ing vol­cano. I used the di­ag­o­nal line of the flow­ing river to re­in­force the an­gu­lar com­po­si­tion. As there was only a lit­tle wa­ter flow­ing in the river, a shut­ter speed of 1/5 sec was slow enough to get some mo­tion with­out los­ing high­light de­tail.

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