Shutter Speed Smoothing

Say that three times fast!!!

I recently read a critique on a long-exposure waterfall photo that the water was too smooth.  Too Smooth?  I wasn’t aware that there was any such thing!!!  I always go for as long a shutter speed – and therefore the smoothest water – possible!!  The critique went on to say that the rule of thumb should be a shutter speed of 1/10 to get the not-too-smooth look although the author did say this is somewhat dependent on the amount of water we’re looking at.

So I did a little experiment.  I set my camera to shutter-priority and went from a speed of 1/60 to a speed of 0.6.  I won’t upload all the shots here but at what point do you think the water gets “too smooth?”

PS – Using Lightroom I was able to copy my adjustments from picture to picture to picture since all shots needed the same adjustments – what a time saver!!

1/60 sec

1/30 sec

1/10 sec - not at all smooth enough in my opinion

1/8 sec

1/5 sec. - getting there!

0.6 seconds using a 2 stop ND filter

For me the 1/5 seconds gets the job done but I still like the 0.6 seconds better!


5 thoughts on “Shutter Speed Smoothing

  1. I think the first couple and the last one are the keepers. The last because the water has a uniform look about it and that’s important for the smooth effect. The first two because they speak of the power and roar much better than does a smooth water shot. The trick is knowing when to use each technique depending to serve your photo best. Sometimes a trend is just that and a photographer has to break out of it when it makes sense.

  2. For my taste the first shot is the best. I have never been a fan of the smooth-water trend. It’s just not realistic, and I love realistic images most of all.

  3. The later ones look a little like the water is frozen,, which is a neat combination with the water at the bottom.
    Variety works for me…..

  4. Hmm it looks like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any tips and hints for novice blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

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