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 Nature Photography :: Essays :: Fuzzy Water

Fuzzy water, some people love it and some hate it but one thing is certain, it's been with us from the beginning of photography and is in no danger of being made redundant as a technique.

I'm one of the 'love it' crowd, which is fortunate because my technique of using long exposures almost demands this affect. I admit however that fuzzy water is not always appropriate. I'll cite two examples.


The photo Swirlpool was taken at Kondalilla Falls in Queensland. Being at the bottom of a canyon it was quite dark and my usual preference for using an aperture of f64 called for a three-minute exposure after allowing for reciprocity.

I made my usual two exposures then thought about what I had done and what the result would look like. I timed the moving bubbles on the surface of the water and decided that my long exposure may actually blur the bubbles to the point where the swirling affect was lost.

Just to be on the safe side I exposed one more sheet of film using a wider aperture and a ten-second exposure.

As predicted, in the longer exposure the streaks have disappeared into a blur, which doesn't show the affect I had in mind at all. The result of the shorter exposure was to clearly show the streaks caused by the bubbles floating on the water's surface. A vast improvement in the image.

Deua Flow

Deua Flow is a similar example. Initially I saw something here but didn't take the time to figure out what it was. My first reaction was to do what I often do, use a wide-angle lens to 'get it all in' and make a long exposure to blur the water.

This time however I asked myself what attracted me to the scene in the first place. I realised that it was the movement that I could see in the rapids. I also realised that a long exposure would totally lose that affect. I changed to a tele lens, used a shorter exposure and made what I think is a better image.

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