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Blog posts below arranged most recent at top
Leaving the place better than we found it
Seeing with my eyes closed
Thomas Jefferson on gun control
How to lie convincingly
Our hardy heartland
Breaking the cycle
How to catch the sun's comings and goings
Thoughts from the inside
Leveraging the internet to build our walls
Twitters from the past
And the invincibility of youth
Without ego projection
Yet another gift of the road
The charming side of obstinance
The creative part of photography
A movie critic looks in the mirror
We are not alone
As part of the system
Defecting from the rear guard
The end of Kumbaya
The wanderer's poet
Running out of dirt
Striking a balance
The Bay of Fundy, where the sea breathes
You are on this page
A simple question we get every day
We may be failing to fail
And why no one should hesitate to examine them
Becoming a hero in one's own life story
A writing assignment
A new discovery of something old
Finding new eyes to see old landscapes
Hick humor
Toys for photographing wild places
Experiencing life with God
A radical thought about our radicals
Redemption with style
Hidden heroes among us
Resetting our parallel processor
A village with heart
A lesson from the road
The bullet dodged
A soul sparkles
Isolation in style
Painless ways to lose your virginity : 11/12/15
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How to photograph them with anything, even your cellphone

Perhaps because we are mostly water, as is our world, we are drawn to water as art. This dynamic, clear liquid playing over immovable, opaque stone provides the pleasing contrast that speaks to the confrontations and harmony interacting in our daily lives.

To capture water's role in all this, I feel a photograph needs to show its movement, its flow, while the rocks and vegetation around it remain in sharp, inflexible focus. As shown at right, this requires tricking your camera not to take a regular picture where it thinks you want all the detail it can capture with its automatic settings.

Such silky water requires the camera's aperture (lens opening) to remain open for about 0.4 seconds, which is a long time for photography. During that 0.4 seconds, the water will move just enough to show movement without dissolving into a white blur.

All cameras and cellphones have a setting called shutter priority whereby you can force the opening time to be 0.4 second, or 1/2 second if that's what it offers, with the camera picking the size of the aperture to match.*

Each camera/cellphone has its own buttons and dials to set this, so you'll need to read your manual, which you typically need to download from the vendor's website. If you google "shutter priority" and your camera/cellphone model number, you often get right to the instructions.

Quite often, your camera/cellphone can't make your aperture tiny enough on a bright sunny day, and so much light would come in over 0.4 seconds that your shot would look washed in white. Your first compensating adjustment should be to reduce your ISO setting to the smallest number your camera can do. Still too much light? Use a neutral density lens filter. Don't have one of those? Hold your darkest sunglasses over the lens.

Humans can't hold a camera still for 0.4 seconds, so you'll need a tripod. For cellphones, or when caught without a tripod, try to find something solid on which to rest your camera/cellphone. This can be the top of a fence, pressed against the side of a tree, on a rock with you sprawled undignified on the ground, or such as that.

When out hunting for waterfalls, avoid the big, popular Niagara stuff. Go for the delicate slivers fiddling with dozens of rocks on their way down, often aside the big waterfalls. Early mornings or just before sunset are better than the harsh light of midday. And remember that a waterfall can be nearly horizontal, that is, a creek with lots of mossy boulders decorated in froth.

Back home, postprocess (Photoshop et al) for less light than most shots. I like filters such as NIK's detail extractor, but those are advanced tricks you can get into later. For starters, remember that you're an artist painting with light, and your experiments will eventually establish your own style based on what speaks to you.

And for the request for an audio recording of a waterfall to help with insomnia, here's a 26 MB mp3 recording I took hanging around a waterfall. It goes for 28 minutes.

* Advanced users should use manual settings where you set both aperture and speed, in which case you set the 0.4 seconds and typically darken the shot down 2 full stops or more.

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Waterfall with regular auto camera settings

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Same waterfall with silky effect

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Deep forest creek as fake oil painting

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Common enough along trails
in Fraconia Notch State Park

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Spilling out from the dark woods

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Covered trail bridges, hiking with style

For more pictures of New Hampshire, click here.

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