I finally did it. I've seen photos in books of waterfalls with the moving water looking creamy while the rest of the landscape was in sharp focus. I knew it was a matter of a slower shutter speed but things always seemed to go wrong. Either I had the wrong landscape to try it with or my shutter speeds were apparently way too slow.
The other day while I was in Salem I stopped at this office building complex. More correctly, I stopped in the bicycle lane of Hawthorne Street. This street has a Costco at one end so it's quite busy. That's where I had to be to include Elvira in the shot. So be it. I had a bright retroreflective vest on. I'd look like someone on a road crew.
There are four or five multi-story buildings in this complex. The whole campus is beautiful. At first I just stopped to take a photo or two. I know that purists will tell me that this photo is framed wrong. Elvira is just about to pop off the frame to the left instead of having the "action going into the picture". What the heck. It's my photo and I wanted to frame the waterfall in the curve of the bike's lines through the dash, seat, and trunk. Here's one that's more "technically"correct.
Like I said, my original goal was simply to take a few photos because the landscape appealed to me. I kept looking at the waterfall, though, and it dawned on me. Here was an opportunity to get some more practice. We stress to our instructors that students learn by doing. The same applies to student photographers. Thank goodness digital shots cost nothing, because I am doing quite a bit of practice!
Here's the first upclose picture of the waterfall. I used the shutter speed setting for these and let the camera decide the rest. The G11 made some interesting decisions.
I chose a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second to try to freeze the falling water. I could have tried 1/250 but it was a really gray, drizzly day. Even so, the Canon chose to use ISO 800 and an aperature of f4.5. It was trying to let in some light.
Then I went for the next shot.
This is at a shutter speed of 1/8 second. It actually turned out pretty good. I realize I had been trying to use too slow a shutter speed in my other attempts. I thought I had to really slow it down but I finally realized that I wanted a bit of blur but not very much. Unlike previous efforts, this time I was hand holding the camera, not using a tripod.
Interestingly, the camera chose to change the ISO to 80, way down there. It closed the aperature to f8 as befits the shutter being open longer. However, the camera also decided to cut down the exposure compensation to minus 1/3. I don't quite get that. I know it has something to do with "fooling" the circuitry by telling it something not quite true so it will compensate accordingly.
When I saw the photo in the LCD screen I was pretty stoked. It's probably pretty basic to a lot of you grizzled photographers out there. For me it was like learning to use the friction zone on a motorcycle for low speed control. Another step forward in fine tuning my control.
Of course, just to keep me humble, this happened.
The above shot was with a 1/4 second shutter speed. Still more or less handheld but the camera was resting on Elvira's trunk this time for a bit of extra support. The camera left the settings the same as they were at 1/8 second.
This shot still looks good but I think the shot at a 1/8 second shutter speed looks a bit cleaner. It's amazing how little it takes to make a discernable difference in the pictures.
There's no doubt that the magic is still in the camera itself, contained amongst the electronic circuits. Still, though, little by little I am putting the puzzle together. What a fun journey! On top of getting to ride the bike. Does it get any better? Well, I was only a mile or so away from a Starbucks and a chance to warm up with some hot coffee. That would make the third leg of the stool.
Miles and smiles,