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Best Shutter Speeds for Moving Water
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May 2014   Better Pictures   Nikon   Canon    Fuji    LEICA   All Reviews


Which is the best shutter speed depends on how you want the water to look.

1/30 makes the water look about as it looks to our eyes.

Faster speeds stop it.

Slower speeds make the moving water look more like dreamy veils.

This is all there is to it.

Here's exactly how water falling over rocks in a river look at different speeds:

Water at 1/500

Water at 1/250

Water at 1/125

Water at 1/60

Water at 1/30

Water at 1/15

Water at 1/8

Water at 1/4

These shots were at the base of Yosemite Falls at 7:55AM on Friday, 16 May 2014, snapped with a hand-held Fuji X-T1 and Fuji 55-200mm lens at 156mm.


Ocean waves crashing will looks like wispy white strokes with exposures of about 1/4 second:

La Jolla coast south of the Children's Pool

Coastline south of La Jolla's Children's Pool.

I shot this in about 1990 with a Graflex Crown Graphic, 135mm f/4.7 Wollensak Optar on Fuji Velvia 4x5" film.


Kohlmar St

I shot this with a Linhof Technika IV, 150mm f/5.6 Schneider Convertible on Fuji Velvia 4x5" film.


For ocean waves, even longer exposures like a few minutes will make the water look like fog:

La Jolla coastline at dusk

The Secret Coast.

This was shot on 4x5" Fuji Velvia back around 1990 I believe on a Crown Graphic 4x5" press camera with a 135mm f/4.7 Wollensak Optar lens.

In this shot, it was just waves crashing on a normal evening, and the long exposure transformed it into something quite different.


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