Silky Water and HDR

I love silky water, but as a rule I don’t use filters. I do own a Lee Big Stopper (10-stop neutral density)… but I only break it out once in awhile for variety.
I don’t have anything against filters. Alot of my friends create astounding images with them. But it boils down to personal preference. I just don’t like fussing about with gear. It makes me feel impatient and anxious, then just plain irritated. I DO like to set up quickly, go into falling leaf mode, take photographs, move about and be one with nature.


Consequently, HDR (high dynamic range) photography is a gift from god for me.
With the right settings and that array of exposures all taken in succession, I know I’ve got the scene covered. It collects all the available light and lets me create the scene almost the way I experienced it, all beautifully packaged up in a single image. Sigh. It’s so satisfying.

I really like it for scenes like this. I shot 7 exposures, ranging from 1/30 sec. up to 1 second, then blended them into Photomatix. Of course, that only created my base image – which I then used Photoshop as well as various plugins to create my final photo. I won’t go into all that here. My point for today, is simply that by photographing this scene with multiple exposures, I was able to blend two of the longer raw exposures in Photoshop to get water just right. I didn’t want it TOO silky – the water would lose all its power. Instead, I wanted it to be a combination of textured and silky soft. That combo gives you the feeling of ┬áboth the power and the beauty of this river – and the depth you get when you do that makes for some yummy visual drama. (of the good kind!)

In the end, my longer exposures took care of slowing down the water. While the shorter exposures grabbed the trees quickly before they moved in the wind. Hence, I ended up with both delightfully crispy goodness and depth in the upper half – and silky/threaded wonder in the lower half of this image.

I love the flexibility of HDR for that.
I might just do a short video tutorial about this. What do you think?