I have a knee-jerk, pavlovian reaction whenever I shoot a scene with rushing water like this one, taken at Panther Creek Falls in Washington a few weeks ago with, , , , and . Namely, I pretty much always go straight for the darkest ND filter in my bag, which is the Lee Big Stopper 10-Stop ND filter. Cutting out 10-stops of light is a tremendous benefit when your goal is to capture the motion of water against the static stillness of the environment that it is flowing through.
However, in this case, the strongest filter isn’t necessarily always the best one to use. Sure, I could have placed that filter on and drag my shutter to a minute or two. That would have easily glassed out the water. However, I would have also wiped out those smaller details, namely the sharper wisps of waves as the water contours around the ground.
It’s those little details that I feel are critical to giving the shot more directionality and flow. To achieve this, I used a lighter ND filter – the Lee .9 3-Stop 4×4 resin ND filter, which gave me the benefit of a longer exposure while also being fast enough to retain those wisps.
It’s akin to a phrase that I use very often on my webinars: Just because a slider can go to 100 doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to.
In terms of processing
This is a two exposure blend. The first exposure took care of the water and the second was a much longer one that brought in more details for the scene itself. Masking was done in Perfect Layers 2 by .
I then sent the image to Perfect Effects 3 and applied a Green Enhancer, a Deep Forest Glow, and some Tonal Contrast.
Next, I sent the image to FocalPoint 2 and selectively applied a tiny amount of blur to the background forest. This gave the image a slight 3D feel.
Finally, I used a custom adjustment brush in Lightroom 4RC2 with a cooler white balance on the water.