Monday, January 24, 2011

Making Soft Water

My very first digital camera is a Canon product in what they call the "hybrid" range, meaning it is essentially a point-and-shoot but comes with many of the adjustable functions of a standard SLR. I felt it was a good compromise from the film-based camera I decided it was time to replace. It was certainly easier on the wallet than the rig I really wanted which would have set me back better than $1400 or more. I no longer work in the travel industry and therefore could not justify that expense when weekend getaways to the ends of the earth had ended some time ago. A casual, every now and then digital camera to at least get started with seemed the ticket.

Heck, the thing came with a manual large enough to convince me that it was just as flexible as my old camera, it simply had the one built-in lens. And that owner's manual prompted me to not only get accustomed to the basics of taking a decent picture but to really discover what the camera was capable of and moreover what I had been missing out on all this time. One of the biggest goals I set was to learn how to take "soft water" pictures.

The obvious thing about the technique is an extended exposure time and either a very steady hand which I do not have or a tripod and stable platform somewhere near the subject. The trick is not to over-expose the shot and wash everything out. The goal, however, is worth the effort in trying to recreate the kind of pictures seen here that also grace the glossiest travel magazines and vacation brochures.

Where most visitors thing largely of Split or Dubrovnik, The Plitvice Lakes of central Croatia are comparatively overlooked yet among the most beautiful in the world. They are a series of 16 lakes connected by hundreds of waterfalls as shown here, a few hours drive south of the capital of Zagreb. Not only do I want to go there one day but I'd love to take some captivating pictures of the lakes and using the "soft water" technique for the falls but only after much, much practice. It would help as well if I had a helicopter fee in the budget to get this same angle but that's another worry for another day. Until then this second shot is within my reach after some good practice.

Living in North Central Texas there are not the kinds of waterfalls that can compare with those in Plitvice much less Niagara Falls or the Iguacu Falls in Brazil. I did have one option, the Fort Worth Water Gardens. Made famous as the setting for the finale of the 1976 film "Logan's Run" I knew the location well and knew it to be dramatic enough in its own manmade way. I live in the area, access to the park is free and I had all day long on a Saturday to try and get it right.

This is the best I was able to come up with on the first try. It shows some promise but clearly a long way to go from the example above mine! I didn't have a tripod but didn't need one given the several concrete risers all around the park. I have a tripod now and as soon as the spring flowers make their appearance I'll be back to give it another try!

Gotta go!

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