When photographing flowing water such as a stream, river, waterfall or the like you have two choices. 1) Stop the motion of the water or 2) show the water’s motion.  Both of these are accomplished through the exposure settings you select.  It is pretty basic actually.  When you want to stop the motion of the water you need to increase your shutter speed and open up your aperture (smaller f-stop).  The faster shutter speed will result in freezing the water’s flow while the wider aperture will help make sure you are still getting enough light to the sensor to properly expose the scene.  For showing the motion of the water you do the opposite.  Decrease your shutter speed to get a longer exposure and close down your aperture by selecting a larger f-stop (smaller opening).  The slower shutter speed allows for the blurred water effect indicating motion while the smaller aperture compensates for the increased shutter time by letting in less light to prevent overexposure.

These two photographs were taken at Aravaipa Canyon in Arizona.  Although they follow the basic premise outlined above I would have liked to have gotten more pronounced results by decreasing the shutter time on the one and increasing it on the other.  But the hike had to go on and I was a bit rushed.

Photo demonstrating showing the flow of water

f/14.0 – 1/8 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 55 mm
To increase the motion effect in this image I could have brought the shutter speed down a stop
or two and prevented over exposure by taking the aperture up a stop or two.

Photo demonstrating stopping the motion of flwoing water

f/8.0 – 1/40 sec – ISO 100 – Focal Length 55 mm
This image still shows a fair amount of motion.  To further freeze that I could have increased
my shutter speed even more and brought my f-stop down if necessary.

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