“How slow can you go?”

This was the question I asked myself during a recent photowalk on a brisk Saturday morning in December which brought us to one of my favorite destinations, Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick, Massachusetts.  Broadmoor consists of 624 acres of forest, ponds, fields and 9 miles of trails.  There are also several waterfalls which vary in volume and force depending on the time of year and weather conditions, and it was these waterfalls where my steadiness was tested.

The day was gray, as many are in this part of the world at this time of year, and while I’ve frequently visited Broadmoor with a tripod or monopod in the past, on this day I brought only my own two legs, so my Sony NEX 6 was hand-held.

My goal was to shoot some of the waterfalls at a shutter speed slow enough to get that creamy smoothness in the falling water, but not so slow that the rest of the photo was a blurry mess.

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I shot the above at f/9, 1/15 second, ISO 100, in manual exposure mode on the Sony NEX 6.  Not bad; the scene was overall sharp but I felt the falls needed some more “smoothiness”.  I needed to go slower.

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Ok, I shot this at f/11, 1/10 second, ISO 100, in manual exposure mode.  I like the reflection off the water as it falls, and it’s nicely blended, especially in the churn where the fallen water gathers in the pool below.  But was 1/10 of a second the best I could do hand-held?

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I think I achieved my legal limit on this one: shot at f/18, 1/5 second, ISO 100, in manual exposure mode.  The ice to the right and left of the falls is pretty sharp and the falling water looks like it’s somewhere between liquid and fog.  I had to stand on a snow-covered stone ledge that protruded into and over the stream to get this view, but it was worth it.

Just think what I might have done if I’d had decaf that morning!!

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About Ed Spadoni

www.2GuysPhoto.com "Thoughts and opinions, resources and experiences… for emerging photographers everywhere."
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8 Responses to “How slow can you go?”

  1. Ed Shields says:

    Very nice Ed, there’s no way I could do that. But then from your web site picture I’m probably close to 20 years older than you and my hands are not quite that steady any more. Even though I grew up in the NE and love the snow photography it’s going to be 70 degrees here in Sacramento today and I’m going for my first bike ride of the year. Everything is a compromise and I’m happy with mine.

  2. Lovely shots, Ed. Thanks for sharing the setup parameters, too.

  3. Rodney says:

    Impressed! The second photo is my favorite, but all our impressive for hand helds! 1/5 is pretty slow to get such a crisp picture. I think 1/25 is my limit.

  4. gpcox says:

    I have a lot of catching up to do. I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve been here – please accept my apologies.

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