Anatomy of a photo #10: Freezing the flow of water in an image: Gull and crab claw

Notice how the water streaming down from the crab's leg looks solid? Frozen in time?

This post relates to the importance of shutter speed. A fast shutter speed can freeze action, making something like water appear solid- almost like crystal or an ice sculpture. The picture above for example was taken with a shutterspeed of 1/800th of a second. This was fast enough to freeze the water streaming from a crabs leg.

Similar effects can be obtained for children aging in sprinklers, dogs splashing through water, droplets on a bird or seal as it surfaces from diving, and much more. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you can slow the flow of water down to take out the details and turn it into something soft and velvety (this is a favorite for people to do to waterfalls and rapids).

Other details on how this photograph was created… A long lens was used- approximately 420 mm. This allowed me to be close enougtj that I didn’t disturb the full in it’s behavior. It also compressed the depth of field, so that when I used a wide aperture the background is somewhat blurred out, drawing the viewers attention more strongly to the gull

The image was made on a foggy day- perfect for all around detail, with very little lost to deep shadows or over exposure. Trickier though in that I had to up my ISO, risking a little more noise in the image.

Tha image was taken while I was kayaking. I used an image stabilized lens, since it was such a long focal length. Tripods are counter productive on a kayak, a the image stablization helps just enough when inbabe to use slightly lower shutter speeds because of lighting.

About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
This entry was posted in Anatomy of a photo, birds, How To, kayak photography, marine life, nature photography, photography, portraits, SLR, wildlife photography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Anatomy of a photo #10: Freezing the flow of water in an image: Gull and crab claw

  1. Vicki says:


  2. Vicki says:

    and helpful

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