Spring Stream Shots

April 14 provided my first opportunity to go on a CNPA photo outing since returning from Hilton Head, and I had been looking forward to seeing again some of the friends I had made in that organization.  We met at 8:00 a.m. at the Price Park Picnic Area to shoot wildflowers along the Boone Fork Trail, a five-mile loop trail that begins (and ends) at the picnic ground.

After exchanging greetings our group of seven set off to walk the trail and see what the day would provide us.  Almost at once we were treated to a doe and her two fawns, out for a morning walk across the meadow.  We all just watched, without trying to photograph them, and by doing so we experienced the moment in a way we could not have done if we were scrambling to get the shot.  A short distance later we were treated again as we passed three pairs of mallards foraging in the stream.  As we watched, they took off and climbed steeply through the air to clear the surrounding trees, providing us with another experience we could take home along with our photographs.

Our party then began to separate as some of us lingered to photograph unfurling fiddleheads or spring violets or the rushing water of Boone Fork Creek, and before I knew it I was all alone in the rhododendron thickets along the creek.  The trail had led most of our party away toward what may have been promises of wildflowers around the next bend, but I decided that I would take a few more interesting shots before trying to catch up.

This shot of the rushing water of Boone Fork Creek was taken using a Nikon D300 camera mounted on a tripod and fitted with a 24-70mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens.  I framed the shot using a focal length of 48 mm and used the Mup function to lock the mirror before opening the shutter for 0.4 sec at an aperture of f/22.  The ISO of 100, the lowest possible ISO with this camera, and the aperture of f/22 combined to give maximum depth of focus and detail while suggesting movement by blurring the moving water with the slow shutter speed.

Ultimately I decided not to try catching up with the group but returned to the picnic area and photographed flowers and stream shots in the small stream that meanders through the picnic tables before joining Boone Fork Creek.  This stream shot was made using the same camera as described above, but here with a focal length of 31 mm and an exposure of 1/6 sec at f/22.  Once again the sharp focus on the rocks preserves detail of the scene while the rushing water is blurred by the slow shutter speed, suggesting motion.

Stream and waterfall shots are widely used to show or imply motion in a still photograph, and the photographer’s challenge is getting a sharp focus on the static elements in the image while blurring the moving water to show movement.  Practice, as is often the case, makes perfect.  The more attention paid to the details of sharp focus, depth of field, and elimination of camera movement the better.

About Tom

Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Appalachian State University.
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