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Rivers and Waterfalls
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Rivers and Waterfalls

Whether you're trekking through wilderness or simply strolling in the countryside, an especially pretty river or waterfall is a visual treat.

One way to capture the rush and tumble of moving water is by using a slow shutter speed and letting the water blur into shiny white, streaming ribbons. You often see the technique used in advertising and greeting-card shots, and it's easy to duplicate if you own a DSLR that lets you choose your own shutter speed.

Start by setting your ISO to its lowest speed (typically around ISO 100 or 150) and setting your camera on a sturdy tripod (resting it on a rolled up sweater is a good substitute). The trick is to set a shutter speed slow enough that the water moves through the frame while the shutter is open. The exact shutter speed will depend on the speed of the water and the degree of blur you're after. With a fast-moving stream or waterfall, or where you just want a hint of a blur, you can use speeds as fast as 1/15 second; with slower-moving streams, or to let the ribbons of water appear to be passing entirely through the frame, use a shutter speed of a full second or longer. If the light is bright, you may have to put a neutral-density filter over the lens to cut down on the light so you can use such long exposures.

Of course, you can also use fast shutter speeds to halt the motion of water. This method can be very effective with particularly tumultuous falls or rivers.

You can add power to compositions like these by finding low vantage points so the water looks like it's going to gush right out of the print. Don't ignore rivers and falls in winter, when freezing temperatures turn swirling flows into fantastic frozen shapes.

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