Flowing Water, Snow, and Ice: Long, Lazy Exposures


I was out two mornings ago in 16 degree weather all layered up wearing my spikes looking for flowing water, snow, and ice. Now that we are entering mid-March I’ll be lucky to get another opportunity to photograph these. Right now the temperature is 40 degrees and it is expected to hit near 50 on Wednesday before getting colder again. Ice and snow are good subjects for black and white film not only because ice and snow often lack color, but because they offer such a variety of shapes and textures, which is what black and white is all about. I also find these images to be very quieting

To get the finest grain and sharpest images I’m using Ilford’s Delta 100 and FP4 125 films. For those scenes  with flowing water I use a 10 stop neutral density filter. This enables me to shoot using very small f stops, and shutter speeds ranging from 25 seconds to 21/2 minutes, rendering an ethereal look to the water. I lent a selenium cast to these shots to provide a cooler, more wintry look.


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The stream flowed very slowly here so this was a more standard short exposure without a neutral density filter.

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You can see how different flowing water looks using a 25 second exposure.

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This shot was exposed for 2 1/2 minutes, rendering a soft, smooth look to the stream.

I placed the camera on a tripod for all of these shots. I used both my medium format (120 film), and single-lens reflex (35mm film) cameras. The former’s images are in square format and located at my: on-line gallery.

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