Exposure at Waterfalls - Brown's River, Vancouver Island

June 12, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Brown's River Jun 11 2016 2Brown's River Jun 11 2016 2OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Brown's River Falls, Olympus OMD EM-1, F8, 1/13 seconds, ISO 200, hand-held

On 11 June, the Comox Valley Photographic Society went to Brown's River Falls, a short drive from Courtenay and then a 20 minute walk. I have been there many times and decided to limit my photography on this occasion to a single lens and check out what slow shutter speed is possible, hand-held, with my Olympus EM-1. Generally, I prefer running water captured between 1/2 and 1/15 of a second depending on the speed. This allows for a sense of water moving quickly rather than the more popular cloudy or misty renditions at slower shutter speeds. There are times when I will use slower speeds or much faster speeds for different effects. However, I keep coming back to my preferred range.

I don't like carrying my tripod on a hike or when I have to use a rope to descend some steep rocks as in this case. I used only the Lumix 20 mm, F 1.7 with a variable neutral density filter. For those unfamiliar with the filter, it limits the amount of light entering the lens to varying degrees and without affecting the colour tones. You simply rotate the filter to increase or decrease the amount of light that will be included in the exposure. In bright conditions this will allow a longer shutter speed without forcing the photographer to close down or narrow the aperture to the point where significant sharpness is lost. 

I know that the EM-1 has outstanding stabilization that should lead to acceptable images, hand-held, at shutter speeds lower than was possible with earlier technologies. However, I have not tried it out with running water. I was surprised to get the occasional sharp image at 0.4 to 0.5 seconds. Anything longer produced evidence of camera shake, although some images were still attractive. At 0.2 and faster, I found no evidence of camera movement in the image as long as I concentrated on remaining still. So the result is that I can leave the tripod in the car when I want to photograph moving water at the speeds I prefer. Here are my favourited shots from Brown's River on this occasion.


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