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Heroique
19-Mar-2015, 15:58
Just curious, I mean this as both a philosophical and technical issue for the landscape shooters around here, so please take your pick – but if you're smart enough, please help us with both sides of the question!

As you compose (or let's say visualize) moving water, are you actually able to describe what you want it to look like, feel like, or be like? If you can, I'm very curious what words (or phrases) you might use, and what technical skills you might apply, so that your final image illustrates the description with success.

For example: "swift," "surreal," or "tranquil," etc.

Does it mainly come down to shutter speed – or do additional compositional choices help moving water match the articulated aims you might have for it?

Or, do you believe the nature of moving water too mysterious to describe to oneself, and too subjective to describe to others – and in the end, a difficult subject whose "feel" you want can only be conveyed (non-verbally) by the final image?

Sample images always welcome!

Vaughn
19-Mar-2015, 16:30
The Waiko River, 1987
16x20 Silver Gelatin Print
4 second exposure (4x5 TMax100)

I had pictured this in my head as having the water mimic, or be the equivilent of, the rock. The water turned out much more fog-like, but I still love the image. Looking down river just after the river emerges from under Franz Josef Glacier. And just for the heck of it, I also linked the photo of the river coming out from the glacier...also a 16x20 print.

Jac@stafford.net
19-Mar-2015, 16:31
Going against the current (pn) trend, I am working on making photos of waterfalls and other natural water passages using speed lights. The more violent the water, splashing, exploding, and the closer the better. I cannot previsualize the outcome of course, but the departure is promising.

Regarding descriptions, I will go aside to include a description involving a former hometown:


Ray Bradbury, 1957 in Dandelion Wine.

... derived from the atmosphere of the white Arctic in the spring of 1900, and mixed with the wind from the upper Hudson Valley in the month of April, 1910, and containing particles of dust seen shining in the sunset of one day in the meadows around Grinnell, Iowa, when a cool air rose to be captured from a lake and a little creek and a natural spring.

Photograph that!

Heroique
19-Mar-2015, 19:57
The water turned out much more fog-like, but I still love the image.


I cannot pre-visualize the outcome of course, but the departure is promising.

Vaughn, the Waiko River image may have eluded your original intentions, but I can see why it still satisfies you. To me, the other-worldly transformation of the water gives the viewer a glimpse into some far-away planet! As Jac suggests – and in my personal experience too – when one tries to compose moving water, it seems that even the best of plans often lead to unexpected "outcomes" in the final image. It's enough to try one's patience! I like to think it's the protean nature of water, allowing it to adopt ever-changing forms, independent of the photographer's intention to capture any one of them.

Vaughn
19-Mar-2015, 23:41
Vaughn, the Waiko River image may have eluded your original intentions, but I can see why it still satisfies you. To me, the other-worldly transformation of the water gives the viewer a glimpse into some far-away planet! ...

The transformation of the image came about during printing. The water just wanted to be fog, not rock, even though some of the swells in the river were becoming sort of like the roundness of the rocks...the image just seemed to want a very light touch to keep to just the highest light values in the water. I had used a red filter as a ND filter (not much color in the scene) to get the exposure to 4 seconds.

Below is another image taken at that time (3 days of photographing this area). It worked out as I thought it would, though the printing has as much, if not more, effort and burning in than the Waiko River image. F64 at 1 second (no filter).

IanG
20-Mar-2015, 00:29
I'm in favour of multiple exposures when one aspect of a landscape image (subject) is moving, whether it's trees in the wind, water, fast moving clouds. I really don't like the surreal tranquil blur (in my own images) which is not remotely realistic.

Ian

Heroique
20-Mar-2015, 03:18
I'm in favour of multiple exposures when one aspect of a landscape image (subject) is moving, whether it's trees in the wind, water, fast moving clouds. I really don't like the surreal tranquil blur (in my own images) which is not remotely realistic.

I sometimes like a touch of the surreal (a slight blur), but not every time.

Here's an example w/ a half-second exposure, giving a very slight, fine-velvet blur to the water – but not enough to distract me.

131118

Come to think of it, I don't think I'd even notice the blur without the stationary rock as a reference. Interesting, but I think this slight degree of blur is what gives some of my images their realism. Sometimes it allows me to "hear" the water's lapping action as it passes by, other times to "feel" its resistance to the obstacles it's flowing against. If this mountain river had been flowing any faster, a half-second might have provided too much motion for the quiet murmur I wanted to preserve.

Tachi 4x5
Fuji A 240mm/9
T-Max 100 (in T-Max rs)
Epson 4990/Epson Scan

Bruce Barlow
20-Mar-2015, 08:17
A really good exercise before spending really expensive film is to use your digicam set on shutter priority and make pictures of running water at different shutter speeds, so you know what they look like. When using film then, you have a better idea of what you want, and what you're likely to get.

Besides, it's a really fun exercise to do.

Jmarmck
20-Mar-2015, 10:52
I was just going to suggest a digital shot to determine what a setting might do.
Heroique, I love the texture of that water, it is like a very shiny silk or the wet skin of a seal. I guess the talent here would be to picture in one's mind eye what the reflected objects would look like on a textured surface. This would not work with white water like Vaughn's shots. I think the idea there would be to see if there were any "gaps" in the seemingly white random spray. While long exposures on running or falling water has its mystique and flavor, sometimes faster shutters or stopping motion is desirable. I, like many millions have SM and MF photos of the major falls in Yosemite. I prefer the ones that capture the colors and texture in the water i.e. fast motion freezing shutter speeds. This is also something the eye does not see in the detail that a fast shutter will.

Heroique
20-Mar-2015, 11:53
Heroique, I love the texture of that water, it is like a very shiny silk or the wet skin of a seal.

Thanks (I think), for your apt analogy means I will forever more associate this print with seals. :D

Heroique
20-Mar-2015, 11:58
I, like many millions, have SF and MF photos of the major falls in Yosemite. I prefer the ones that capture the colors and texture in the water i.e. fast motion freezing shutter speeds. This is also something the eye does not see in the detail that a fast shutter will.

Your useful remark about what the eye does not see reminds me to make a point of irony I've always wanted to share here. Namely, when a choice of slow shutter speed gives moving water the appearance of a fast shutter speed! (I suppose this is yet another example of moving water expressing intentions independent of the photographer's own.)

This has happened to me when water-on-the-move, due to a slow shutter speed, might be perceived as snow (or ice) frozen in place. The slow exposure, that is, conceals rather than reveals the movement. To be sure, my initial impression of Vaughn's raging waterfall in post #5 was that it might be a quiet glacier.

Another example – flowing water at 1/4 second, but it might look like shiny ice to some:

131131

Tachi 4x5
Schneider XL 110/5.6
T-Max 100 (in T-Max rs)
1/4 sec. @ f/22
Epson 4990/Epson Scan

photonsoup
20-Mar-2015, 14:57
As you compose (or let's say visualize) moving water, are you actually able to describe what you want it to look like, feel like, or be like? If you can, I'm very curious what words (or phrases) you might use, and what technical skills you might apply, so that your final image illustrates the description with success.

For example: "swift," "surreal," or "tranquil," etc.

I use "hard" and "frozen" to describe fast shutter speeds.
"Streaky" "moving" and "flowing" for speeds that show motion.
And "soft" "billowy" and "cloudy" for longer exposures.

If I get my shutter and light right my moving water shots usually turn out as expected.

With my smaller cameras that have a rear curtain flash option you can create a streak of motion that ends with a strong subject. Fun with rain and snow, I've not tried it with moving water, but that might be interesting.

Maris Rusis
20-Mar-2015, 15:47
https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6082/6071953687_50c73cdca4_z.jpg

Whirlpool, Kondalilla Falls

Gelatin-silver photograph on Agfa MCC 111VC FB photographic paper, image size 24.5cm X 19.6cm, from a 8x10 TriX negative exposed in a Tachihara 810HD triple extension field view camera fitted with a Fujinon-W 300mm f5.6 lens and a #25 red filter. Titled, signed and stamped verso.

Sometimes clear water cannot be seen by the lens but the leaves floating upon its surface betray its movement. The whirlpool at the base of the Kondalilla Falls turns slowly but a 2 minute exposure was sufficient to record a dynamic swirl.

Bruce Watson
20-Mar-2015, 16:00
As you compose (or let's say visualize) moving water, are you actually able to describe what you want it to look like, feel like, or be like? If you can, I'm very curious what words (or phrases) you might use, and what technical skills you might apply, so that your final image illustrates the description with success.

Well, if you want to get technical, we can describe the motion of water (any fluid, down to the individual molecule) exactly, using Bernoulli's equation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernoulli%27s_principle). Any good mechanical engineer with any fluid dynamics background at all can probably do it in her/his sleep. The problem in the past was that no one could actually solve the equation. But in the last couple of years some clever engineers have come up with at least one solution.

I know, I know, not what you wanted. Still, if you want a description of water flow, particularly in an open stream bed.... And heck, you really can't take the engineer out of the photographer. Sorry.


Does it mainly come down to shutter speed or do additional compositional choices help moving water match the articulated aims you might have for it?

It pretty much depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you want to show the longer term averages (that silky-cottony look, that doesn't look like water at all, but still), you use longer shutter speeds. If you want to show what it more-or-less looks like to the human visual system while it's flowing, then you need medium shutter speeds, particularly at and around 1/60 second. Longer and it's too blurred, shorter and it's too sharp. If you want to show the droplet base of most water flow (there's really no such thing as a "stream" of water, it's a line of droplets, all individually formed), shorter shutter speeds can work.

Much of this is a moot point for LFers. Even using TMY-2 in open sunlight it's difficult to use shutter speeds of 1/60 because of the accompanying wide open apertures and the resulting paper thin DOF. It's absolutely worth doing IMHO. But the exposure difficulty at least partly explains the very large over-representation of long shutter speeds in LF water photography. Just sayin'.

Jac@stafford.net
20-Mar-2015, 16:27
[CENTER]https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6082/6071953687_50c73cdca4_z.jpg


That's the stuff I love!
Thank you.

Heroique
21-Mar-2015, 11:39
And "soft" "billowy" and "cloudy" for longer exposures.

I'd say all three adjectives perfectly describe Vaughn's Waiko River image in post #2.

"Cloudy" might even apply to Maris' image above, if one thinks of a weather satellite's view of a storm system.


...Well, if you want to get technical, we can describe the motion of water (any fluid, down to the individual molecule) exactly, using Bernoulli's equation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernoulli%27s_principle). The problem in the past was that no one could actually solve the equation...

That was a fun if complex read about fluid motion.

As for solving the equation, we'll just have to put our very own Emmanuel Bigler on the problem.

It couldn't be much harder than bellows-comp or hyperfocal math!

John Layton
22-Mar-2015, 11:33
During my last college teaching gig, I assigned a student to photograph a waterfall with his digicam, at speeds from 1/2000th, on down in 1-stop equivalent increments, to three full minutes (these longer times with a variable ND filter). He then printed out a sheet of the entire sequence as thumbnails, labeled them with time data, and posted this on the classroom wall for all to study. Amazing how each and every different time duration has its own distinct signature. At any rate, a very worthwhile exercise!

sun of sand
26-Mar-2015, 20:21
Moving water is something everyone has seen before and since water is the same everywhere

There simply isn't any need to describe it itself
It is universal to its core

You end up chasing tails needing to describe everthing and anything you attemp to describe it with
Right?


Exercise in flowery mental masturbation
Im not crude like that but it fits


Descriptors of speed reflectance depth color
of its yemporary condition but not innate quality

Becomes cheesy iow
Even worse is not being your own poet and relying on orhers to do it for you
There is no acceptable method of poetry

Vaughn
27-Mar-2015, 11:40
Moving water is something everyone has seen before and since water is the same everywhere... A simple way of looking at water, and since it lacks truth, it is also quite shallow.

My images are more about light, and my relation to it, than descriptions of natural features. Even so, who has seen a waterfall? Or water falling from a tap? We all have (tho there is a large percentage of the population who have never seen a waterfall.) But what do we see? Does the brain process distinct images at 60/sec, or does it create a gestalt of moving water -- not the water itself? Before photography, did anyone ever paint a waterfall with the water completely stopped? Every photograph presents to us something we have never seen nor experienced.

Heroique
27-Mar-2015, 17:18
Even so, who has seen a waterfall? Or water falling from a tap?

We all have, but what do we see?

Does the brain ... create a gestalt of moving water – not the water itself?

Vaughn, a thoughtful and engaging remark that goes "beneath the surface."

And a testament to moving water's age-old ability to inspire (and provide images for) philosophical talk about vision, consciousness, time, knowledge.

To be sure, thoughts like this sometimes skitter across my mind as I compose moving water on the GG, enriching the pleasure of LF and its contemplative ways ... that is, until it reaches the point of downright distraction!

sun of sand
29-Mar-2015, 13:20
A simple way of looking at water, and since it lacks truth, it is also quite shallow.

My images are more about light, and my relation to it, than descriptions of natural features. Even so, who has seen a waterfall? Or water falling from a tap? We all have (tho there is a large percentage of the population who have never seen a waterfall.) But what do we see? Does the brain process distinct images at 60/sec, or does it create a gestalt of moving water -- not the water itself? Before photography, did anyone ever paint a waterfall with the water completely stopped? Every photograph presents to us something we have never seen nor experienced.


If you photograph moving water with such a fast shutter speed that it no longer appears to be moving

?

Then you now need to describe nonmoving water
Not moving water

sun of sand
29-Mar-2015, 13:24
Vaughn, a thoughtful and engaging remark that goes "beneath the surface."

And a testament to moving water's age-old ability to inspire (and provide images for) philosophical talk about vision, consciousness, time, knowledge.

To be sure, thoughts like this sometimes skitter across my mind as I compose moving water on the GG, enriching the pleasure of LF and its contemplative ways ... that is, until it reaches the point of downright distraction!


I go beneath the surface
Why isnt what I say considered beneath the surface

oh
He said gestalt

That was enough

sun of sand
29-Mar-2015, 13:27
Lol I read your last sentence

Hope youre in relative seclusion while doing all this contemplation
Sounds near illegal

Heroique
29-Mar-2015, 16:10
As most here know, this is one of the most famous images of moving water in all of American art:

131589

I thought I'd include it since oil paintings, I think, often enjoy an advantage over film – b/w or color – when it comes to capturing some of the most interesting aspects of moving water.

This is Frederick E. Church's "Niagra," oil on canvas, 1857 – I first came across this image in the book "American Visions" (by Robert Hughes), and it even inspired a trip to the Corcoran Gallery of Art to see it, when I was last in Washington D.C. (I especially wanted to get a close-up view of that piece of driftwood, lower left, about to take the plunge!)

Church of course was after the so-called Sublime-in-nature, a favorite theme of the 19th-C Romanticists, and I for one think this image communicates it immediately to the viewer – but only if one has the detachment necessary for suspending knowledge of the art that came later. Not just the translucent, plunging water, but the water in the sky, in the form of moving draperies of mist, and the total absence of people or tourists, have a lot to do with this effect – but there is so much about the moving water in this scene that film would have little hope of ever capturing. (Some of AA's most famous images aim for the same spiritual grandiosity, and begin to approach it.)

Nonetheless, Church's image does inspire me when I compose moving water on the GG, but mostly as an unrealizable ideal.