My camera is a time machine.
If you’re a frequent reader of this blog then you’ve seen me talk about limitations of the camera when it comes to how it compares to the human eye. Successful photographers know that and learn to exploit those limitations. We see the world in real time. It’s like being in the center of a continuous movie. You can’t “go back” if you missed something. Unlike our eye, the camera has the ability to both stop and accumulate time. It can freeze a water drop in mid-air or, in the case of this image, capture motion that occurred over several seconds. Time is a creative tool not available to artists working with other medias; a tool worth exploiting.
I shot this in one of the streams below Yosemite’s Bridal Veil fall. When there is sufficient water, the run-off divides into 3 individual streams as they tumble on their way to join the Merced river. It’s a shady, rock strewn, area that is incredibly photogenic. I was looking, very specifically, for an eddy to make this type of shot. During a several second exposure the leaves caught in the current just become swirls of color. The rocks in the stream and the motionless leaf in the foreground also provided a nice balance. I tried several different exposures until I got what I felt to be the right amount of motion. 8 seconds at f/11 was where I finally settled.