The Outsider – Photography in Algoma

Tips for Photographing Moving Water

Updated: By James Smedley

As the snow begins to melt and the creeks and rivers start to flow over Algoma Country’s rugged topography, the wise photographer looks for moving water.


Photo credit: James Smedley Outdoors

Whether it’s tiny rivulets, thundering falls or even the lapping of waves on the lake shore, the movement of water can be used to create intriguing images.

Shutter speed is the prime variable that controls how moving water will look. We have a choice of freezing the action with a fast shutter speed, blurring movement with a slow shutter speed or using a shutter speed somewhere in the middle for less pronounced blur.

For instance, the image of water flowing into a water bottle is frozen with a 1/750 of a second exposure.

At the other extreme, the image of water wrapping around mossy rocks was shot with a 2-second exposure that gives the water a blurred and silky look.


Photo credit: James Smedley Outdoors

Somewhere in the middle is the waterfall image, shot with a 1/5 second exposure which gives enough blur to hint at movement but still leaves some sharpness to the long tendrils of flowing water.

The effect of shutter speed on moving water is a fascinating aspect of photography.

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About James Smedley

Professional photographer and writer James Smedley’s contributions - more than 400 written pieces and close to 1,000 images - to U.S. and Canadian books, magazines and newspapers have earned him over 40 National and International awards. In addition to teaching photography workshops, James is Travel Editor at Ontario OUT OF DOORS Magazine. James has fly fished for brook trout and arctic grayling in far northern rivers and continues to cast for trout, bass and steelhead near his home in the northern Ontario town of Wawa where he lives with his wife Francine and daughters Islay and Lillian.

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