Water & Light

Sunlight Scribbling on Water #3
Sunlight Scribbling on Water #2

Roger and I (and Christine, for most of the week) have spent the last week in Columbia, Missouri visiting my family

In other words, Roger and I have spent most of the last week hiking around the land that surrounds my parent’s house every day.

I took a handful of photos of water tumbling over the rocks in the creek below the house. To capture that “blurry moving water” essence, I cranked the aperture to maximum and used a nearby rock as a tripod to keep the shutter speed open as long as possible.

I specifically positioned the camera such that it would catch the reflecting sun off the surface of the water. As the sun was acting as a point light source, I figured that it would be interesting to see the sun traverse the water surface over the course of the exposure.

Certainly was! Surprisingly so! The end result looks like someone scribbled with a light pen on the surface of the water!

Detailed explanation (for my seester Ann): I used the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens to capture these 2″ tall waterfalls. They were taken in very bright afternoon sunlight. I cranked the aperture to f/32 to achieve as long of an exposure as possible. For these, the shutter was open for all of 0.2 seconds (1/5th of a second). To keep the camera steady, I propped the camera on a [somewhat muddy, oh well] rock and held the shutter button down to take multiple exposures, hoping at least one would be steady.

Sunlight Scribbling on Water #1

Given the angle of the sun and the water, the water was acting as a mirror for the sun. Reflecting a point of light directly into the camera lens. Unlike a mirror, water is… well… fluid and, thus, the surface is ever changing and the point from which the sun is being reflected changes constantly as the shape of the surface changes.

The key to the squiggles, though, is that this particular waterfall is moving at just the right speed such that the surface tension of the water is never broken in the primary flow. The surface remains smooth as it flows over the small fall.

Neat! I suggest clicking through to the largest size to get the full impact of the light scribbling on water.

Now, this little tumble of water was not exactly natural…

Roger & Dam

Given any random creek that has a decent flow, but nothing dangerously swift, that runs through an area that receives enough rainfall that the river is regularly reset, it just begs to have a dam built.

So, a dam Roger and I built.

The creek has large, flat, rocks every now and then that divert the channel of flow to one side or the other. We chose one and piled rocks in the channel.

We actually managed to raise the water level in the pool behind the dam enough to submerge a good part of the flat rock!

Not only that, but the main channel of the river now flows over the rock on the other side.

Quite neat to see the changes made to the flow with such relatively little effort.

The flat rock isn’t entirely flat and, thus, when we caused water to flow over the rock, some of the water fell off a nice little edge and made for some waterfalls upon which the sun reflected so nicely.

Creek With Tree

This is a picture looking upstream from below our dam. We came back and built another dam the next day on the flat rock just at the edge of this picture.

The first dam was built one pool further up.

While everything looks kind of grey, the green of the grasses and the rich green of the evergreen trees in the background indicate reality more accurately.

This is a woods on the verge of exploding with spring growth.

3 Responses to “Water & Light”

  1. Papa Joe says:

    dam good job.

  2. ann says:

    How did you get the squiggly white lines? They’re wonderful!

  3. missouri grasses says:

    […] […]

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