The Secret of Silky Water

Settings: 18mm, Av mode, f/220.3 sec, ISO 100

Do you love those photos of silky, luminescent waterfalls? Do you want to know the secret of silky water? It’s simple — slow down your shutter speed.

Make your water silky in a few simple steps:

  1. Use a tripod or place your camera on a firm surface. Because you are slowing down the shutter speed, you will need a tripod or a firm surface to counter camera shake.
  2. Set your camera to Aperture priority mode and choose a narrow aperture, such as f/16 or f/22. The narrower the aperture, the less light the sensor will receive.  The camera will automatically select a longer shutter speed to get a correct exposure.
  3. Set the ISO to 100, or the lowest ISO available for your camera.
  4. Optional: On a bright, sunny day, you can give the silkiness a boost by adding a neutral density filter (ND filter) to your lens. The ND filter will reduce the amount of light the sensor receives and slow down the shutter speed more.

The following photos show the effects of using different shutter speeds on the same waterfall.

Slightly Silky (Slower Shutter Speed)

Settings: 18mm, Av mode, f/8.0, 1/15 sec, ISO 100

Crispy (Faster Shutter Speed)

Settings: 18mm, Av mode, f/3.51/80 sec, ISO 100