Soundstream (with rework, recrop & wider view)

Original version -

Same with branches removed and/or darkened -

And a tighter crop -

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


Taken the same day as the Boulder study, but further downstream on Ripley creek. This is a little side cascade that only flows when the water is very high. Ordinarily it’s dry and basically moss-covered. But after snow melt or big rains, it runs fast. I positioned myself on the opposite bank of the main channel and tried to pick out some slices of the cascade that were interesting, but not too busy. This was one and I did my best to accentuate the texture differences between the stationary objects and the madly rushing water.

The whole cascade at a much faster shutter speed (maybe handheld!) -

Specific Feedback

Since most folks preferred the longest exposure in the Boulder study, I wonder what your reaction is to this scene. I have a couple of shots at a much faster shutter speed, but not of this exact bit. I can post what I have if you’d like to compare. One is a wider view of the whole cascade and one is a smaller crop (and probably different angle) of this bit.

Technical Details

Tripod, CPL & 6-stop ND
2-image pano stitch


Lr for the stitch and some wb adjustment to remove the cast made by the filters. I think the content-aware removal tool is better than it was before because I didn’t have to go to Photoshop to get that done. Played with color in the Calibration panel. Got the general contrast and clarity where I wanted it and went into Photoshop for dodging and burning in the water with luminosity masks to control the adjustment. Clarity action applied to just the boulders in front. Ran a Soft Pop action at the end and pulled back the opacity and fill until it looked right.

Hi Kris,
what a nice little scene. I can literally hear the water rushing.
Even though I usually prefer much faster shutter speeds, the blurry water here creates a great contrast with all the beautiful textures.

Those bright branches in the upper right of the image (left of the main tree trunk) distract my eye. I probably would try to darken them or clone them out.

What fascinating stuff on those rocks! I also find the fallen branch a bit distracting. I wonder about a combination of trimming what you can of the smaller branches, and the laid-down grass, then darkening the rest or cropping a bit from the top. I think just the rocks and tree base, with the water, is a fascinating abstract.

I’d love to see whatever else you experimented with!

I agree with that. Everything is round and smooth so the jagged branch feels really out of place. I like the round rocks and the tree trunk fits in with that. The silky water is less successful here than the previous image. It reminds me of milk rather than water. Water has a transparent quality to it where as this is opaque. I think that’s one of the issues I have with slow SS with water in general. Conveying the look of water in an image is not easy because it has so many qualities.

thanks @Jens_Ober, @Diane_Miller & @Igor_Doncov - I appreciate the comments and insights. I can easily visit this cascade again and fiddle with the shutter speed, especially now I have a set of variable NDs that won’t color cast or over clock. The more milky appearing water is a direct result of having to manipulate ISO to achieve anything in between just the polarizer and it plus the 6-stop ND. The contrast is nice, but might be too much. We will see. It will be overcast in the coming days so I can revisit.

Here is a 1 second version of the first photo. It’s at a different angle, but an idea of what it could look like at that speed -

And here is the whole cascade -

And where it joins the main channel with the big boulder -

Am heading back there today because I’ve found a better way to get further upstream. Believe it or not the headwaters for this brook is a spring-fed pond that looks to be pretty tiny on Google maps. It’s right on the side of a road not far from my house and I know I’ve passed it without realizing. Funny.