As photographers, we remind ourselves that the best camera is the one in your hand. A majority of the time that adage holds true. Yet, as you wade into specific niches, extra gear is needed to achieve a much better result. Portrait photographers should be using off-camera strobes (flash), remote triggers, light stands, and reflectors. Landscape photographers could be using polarizers, graduated and neutral density filters. Those are two examples. To move away from documentary snapshot photographs and into fine art photography, you need not only your camera, but additional gear and accessories to capture the scene in front of you as you see the final photograph in your head, or at least attempt to come close to the final photograph.
Time to revive the “self-critique” post with today’s photograph. The composition is not quite right. The issue here is primarily gear related, specifically lack of the appropriate gear. My current long lens zoom does not have a 10-stop neutral density (ND) filter, which is needed for this long exposure with the sun out.
Without the ND filter on the long lens, the shutter speed for the “appropriate” exposure is 1/25 seconds. At this shutter speed, the water action is stopped, a bit of a freeze frame result. This freeze frame not the photograph I am going for. It is the silky water effect above I am trying to capture. With the ND filter, the same light exposure would need 40 seconds of shutter speed, which is what you see above.
Unfortunately, with the filter limitations, the alternative is to use the short 18-55 mm zoom lens on which I can used the ND filter on. The problem is, the compositions I am trying to shoot needs a focal length between 170-200 mm for a close up of either 1) the water hitting the concrete weir support tops with the primary element being the little branches hanging on to the weir top second to the left or 2) the stream of water flow dominating the right two-thirds of the photograph above. Both of the proposed compositions do not include the shoreline and hill on the other side of the river – those elements tend to clutter the composition.
What I have done here is a sort of panoramic crop. I wanted to crop further, but that would result in throwing away quite a bit of data with the final image showing more graininess than is acceptable. So here we are, a rather strange cropped dimension, increased graininess, and more elements than originally intended.
You know what that means. A re-shoot. Still without the ND filter for the long lens. That means altering other variables. Moving closer and/or find a different vantage point. Shot when there is less ambient light, later in the day and hopefully with additional cloud cover. Until next time.
EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 40mm, f/5, 1/160 sec
Rancho Cordova (CA), Weir Supports, Rushing Water, Long Exposure. Nimbus Fish Hatchery, Rancho Cordova, CA. January 18, 2017. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.