The Flint River – A Comparison of Photographic Techniques

Here are two photos I recently took of the water flowing in the Flint River. Since these are both panoramas, click them to see to best advantage.

This first photo was fairly standard. F8, ISO800 at 1/250 second with a 19mm lens. Three photos were merged using Adobe Lightroom. As is my usual technique, I saved it at about 50 percent file quality in order to reduce the file size to upload to this website. For single photos, I usually save them at 60 percent.

Here’s another photo from the same spot. In addition to being zoomed more, this photo took a bit more work to bring about. First, I used a series of neutral density filters to bring down the amount of light so I could increase the exposure to about 3 seconds. Basically, this is like Aperture Priority, but manually done. That also let me set a very long focal ratio (f22) so all details, near and far, are in focus. I set the ISO very low, ISO100, so there is no graininess in the photo. The trade off here is that even though I captured a velvety water flow due to the long exposure, I also lost a bit of sharpness and definition in the trees as the leaves moved slightly over time.

Since both photos are a bit wider than one photo can take in, I made a series of three photo and merged them in Adobe Lightroom. In order to keep any cropping to a minimum, I set the camera on a leveled tripod and only panned horizontally. I manually set all parameters so I could keep them exactly the same for all three photos of the panorama.

So which is better? I like the silky smooth flow in the second one due to aperture priority, but the composition is better in the first one. I guess I’ll have to go back one day and take a series again, using both ideas in one panorama, and make sure there is absolutely no wind!

About Pgibson

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama where I work as a Software Engineer and part-time banjo instructor. My wife Miiko and I worship at Rivertree Downtown. I've been playing various instruments since my teen years. I started mandolin and dulcimer at about age 17 and banjo at 20. I love just about all kinds of music. In terms of banjo styles, I play and teach Scruggs, melodic, clawhammer, and 2-finger styles. I'm also very keen on theology, being a Trail Care Partner with the Land Trust of North Alabama, photography, urban planning, architecture, astronomy, ATM (amateur telescope making), birding, martial arts, and about 30 other distracting hobbies to a (mercifully) lesser extent.
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3 Responses to The Flint River – A Comparison of Photographic Techniques

  1. I like the effect of the second one and the reflections in the foreground πŸ™‚

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