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Gary Figgins: ‘Go with the flow’ and capture the emotion of moving water

There’s a certain mysticism about water that teases a photographer’s mind into thinking that he or she can capture that “emotion” that emanates through the combination of light, movement and sound. Water is one of the most fascinating subjects to photograph, perhaps because it is not the easiest subject to photograph.

This photo was taken on the North Fork of the White River at the Falls, an area known as the “miracle mile” of trout fishing. The spot is located in a Wild Trout Management Area accessible by land exclusively from River of Life Farm, located just outside the small town of Dora in South Central Missouri. The North Fork is spring-fed by the eighth-largest spring system in Missouri and can be floated year-round.

The fall colors were just beginning to peek through the green of the surrounding forest this mid-October day. It would still be another three weeks or so before autumn’s glory shown, so I opted to emphasize the water rather than the entire landscape, knowing that the photos would appear in a fall issue.

Slowing the movement of the water required a long exposure setting, which in turn, required minimal light in order to avoid highlight burnout. The more light, the less detail would appear in the lightest parts of the photograph, namely the highlights within the water. I arrived at the site the previous afternoon, and spent the latter part of the day scouting for the best location from which to shoot. I set out the next morning around 5:30 in near total darkness, finding my spot fairly easily. Over the course of the next hour and a half, I photographed the same scene in varying degrees of light as the ever-changing morning sky cast more light upon the scene.

The best image was captured at 7:20 a.m. with a Fuji S2 Pro with a 28 mm lens at f/22, which increased the depth of field and allowed the foreground and background to remain in sharp focus. A 4-second exposure was used to “slow” the water, thus necessitating the low level of natural lighting.

Gary Figgins is owner and publisher of Show-Me Missouri, a statewide travel magazine that features Missouri travel destinations and attractions. Gary’s photographs fill the pages of this publication, often with beautiful double-page spreads featuring the outdoors. See http://www.showmemissouri.net/

  • About Gary Figgins

    Gary Figgins is owner and publisher of Show-Me Missouri, a statewide travel magazine that features Missouri travel destinations and attractions.

     

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One Comment
  • Gretchen Steele says: October 29, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Beautiful image! Great tips as well! I’m lucky that there’s a small lake run off near me that looks like a waterfall – can’t tell you the hours I’ve spent there just practicing this very technique – 🙂 Can’t always use a tripod there so I’ve taken to sitting on a rock and using my knees.. LOL