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Water in Motion

Burleigh Falls, 20" x 60" Limited Edition Giclée Print, $675

Burleigh Falls, 20″ x 60″ Limited Edition Giclée Canvas, $675
The water flows from Burleigh Falls and cascades over the rocks forming these rooster tails of spray. This is an wonderful work for over a sofa or bed. I know it’s over ours.

This summer I had the privilege of being one of the premier exhibitors at the Buckhorn Captured in the Camera photography exhibit and sale on August 23. As part of the daylong exhibit the organizers planned to have three “Lunch and Learn” sessions for attendees. These sessions were to present a particular facet of photography to those who would like to attend. When the curator found out that I had taught photography for twenty years at the University of Windsor I was asked to present all three sessions.

One of the sessions was titled: “Water: Capturing the Emotion.” If you have seen my art show exhibit you will know that many of my images include water in one way or another.

Why do I photograph water? There are many reasons. I like the fluid flow of water in motion. There is an ever-changing pattern of the water. As a photographer I plan the photograph, composing the frame, choose the shutter speed and aperture, applying whatever filters I deem necessary. That gives me the basic shape and composition. But then the forces of nature take over the process. I have to work with what God provides to extract the image as the scene moves me.

Making a Splash, 20" x 32" Limited Edition Giclée Canvas  $365

Making a Splash, 20″ x 32″ Limited Edition Giclée Canvas $365 The waves frolic on the rocks as sunset approaches on Australia’s Philip Island. They are like children wanting to get a last splash before dark.

The motion, volume and speed of the water all interact with the time of exposure to give different results. Sure I have a good idea of what the image will look like, but the flow at the precise time of exposure is what is recorded.

With water you have a choice in the final look of the image. Using a faster shutter speed freezes the motion. (It doesn’t freeze the water.) That allows individual drops of water to show. Fast speeds in the neighbourhood of 1/500 of a second will stop most water motion. That gives you an image like “Making a Splash” with the water in midair.

<strong>Stubb's Falls</strong> 20” x 40" Limited Edition Giclée Canvas  $450

Stubb’s Falls 20” x 40″ Limited Edition Giclée Canvas $450 Stubb’s Falls is one of the hundreds of water falls in Ontario. It is a charming venue north of Huntsville, Ontario. I especially like the detail of the water arching over the rocks.

To record the flow of the water in “Stubb’s Falls” I used a much slower exposure. This allows the water to flow into the silken patterns over the rocks. It also allows for individual drops to “streak” in arcs above the main water flow. This is always an added bonus of water photography.

The old adage, “Success doesn’t just happen. It’s planned for.” certainly holds true with photographing water. The process is trying to make the water look wet while you stay dry.

For those who would like to try their hand to create flowing water photography you need to have a camera that can slow the shutter to at least a quarter second or more. If your camera has a manual setting then you are half way home. The second tool you need is a sturdy tripod. Then experiment with different shutter exposures. I find that exposures in the half to one second range is a good starting point.

If you would like to purchase any of the images used in this blog then email me or call at 519.563.7118.


Out of the Haze

Ocean Mist, 20” x 40” Gallery-wrap canvas Giclée limited edition print, $450.

Ocean Mist, 20” x 40” Gallery-wrap canvas Giclée limited edition print, $450.

The story of creating “Ocean Mist”

My second day on the Great Ocean Road in Australia started with promise. I was heading to the 12 Apostles rock formation. As a pilot, I was looking forward to renting a helicopter and doing some aerial photography along this stunning stretch of coastline. But at the airport the choppers were coming and going into a definite haze layer that looked like it was not burning off in the morning sun.

I went into the airport office and they confirmed my suspicion. The haze was expected to last all that day and probably for a few more days to come. Aerials were out and the best way to photograph would be to stay out of the haze.

So I hiked off along the ocean-side trail searching for interesting images. If my previous days’ adventures in Australia were any indication I felt my efforts would be rewarded.

I soon found a beautiful location and set up my camera. I liked my composition with a number of the rocks in the ocean just off shore. The hazy sky gave a soft glow to the scene. The ocean was relatively calm but had a few waves flinging themselves upon the outcrops. Nice, but I felt that the ocean had more to offer.

One of my favourite camera filters is my Lee Filter neutral density filter: the Big Stopper. Its claim to fame is that it blocks 99.9% of the light from passing. When you first look at it you think it’s a piece of black glass. It is that, but the density makes for some very long shutter speeds. The effects are amazing. Whatever is stationery is rendered sharp, but whatever is in motion blurs or “averages” the exposure.

For “Ocean Mist” the exposure was 75 seconds in daylight. Here you can see the ocean waves dancing about the rocks and forming a magical mist. The hazy overcast added to the soft effect. My lens was set at 400 mm to fill the frame with the scene. Success. Ocean Mist captured the feeling of being there. This image is one of my favourite Australian images. I am sure it will be yours, too.

If you are traveling to Australia I would highly recommend the Great Ocean Road southwest of Melbourne. It is considered one of the outstanding drives in the world. Remember if you are driving the Aussies drive on the left (and you should too). That means that driving the road from east to west will keep you on the ocean side and you won’t have to keep crossing traffic as you pull back on the road from the many stops you will want to make.

To purchase one of the remaining prints of Ocean Mist click here and send me an email or call me at 519.563.7118.