How to set the optimal exposure for images of flowing water (video)

Have you ever wondered how experienced landscape photographers create those mesmerizing images of soft, flowing water? It’s very easy to do if you understand the technique, and you’ll learn everything you need to know in the quick video below.

“When photographing waterfalls or streams, exposure time is very important,” explains Toma Bonciu, a proponent of Roman landscapes, and in this nine-minute episode, he explains the appropriate settings, along with some other tips.

As you’ll see, it’s all about choosing a shutter speed that’s neither too fast nor too slow, depending on the situation. Of course, the shutter speed you choose affects the f/stop and ISO required for correct exposure, and Bonciu covers these variables as well. He also lists the gear he’s using in the description below the video,

Bonciu’s advice is also useful in landscape photography when you want to give billowing clouds a cotton-like appearance to convey a sense of movement. Either way, this isn’t as important for shooting by hand, so you’ll want to use a tripod to make sure the rest of your photo is clear.

Faced with a common mistake, Bonciu explains, “Novice photographers often think flowing water should look like a soft white cover,” and use a shutter speed that’s too slow to get a convincing result. When photographing a stream or waterfall, the trick is to use an exposure time that is slow enough to capture the action, while fast enough to avoid stripping out all the details.

While demonstrating his technique, Bonciu uses several images to show how different combinations of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO interact to affect the appearance of the water and the parts around a scene. And with his suggestions and a little bit of experimentation, you’ll be able to get some really great results.

You can find more helpful tips on Bonciu’s YouTube channel and in another tutorial we shared recently, explaining several common mistakes to avoid for better landscape photos.

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