Waves and Slow Shutter Speeds

Fog at the mouth of the Klamath River, Redwood NP, CA, USA
Fog at the mouth of the Klamath River, Redwood NP, California; 30 seconds

The far northern coast of California has many wonderful, wild coastal areas, providing great opportunities to make moody photographs of ocean scenes. It can be challenging to photograph these scenes, however, because things are constantly changing. In addition to that usual variable – the weather – you have to think about the tides and movement of the waves. Timing can be critical for catching a wave, or pattern of waves, in just the right position, and sometimes you need a lot of patience to wait for the right moment.

Any moving subject – including waves – can lend itself to using slow shutter speeds. With ocean scenes, the blurred motion created by slow shutter speeds can convey a sense of motion more strongly than a frozen image would, or give the water an ethereal quality that adds to the mood of the image. Here's a small portfolio of my slow-shutter-speed ocean photographs from before, during and after my recent redwoods workshop, with the shutter speeds included in the captions for each image.

— Michael Frye

Crescent Beach at dawn, Crescent City, CA, USA
Crescent Beach at dawn, Crescent City, CA; 2 seconds
Sea stacks at sunset, Crescent City, CA, USA
Sea stacks at sunset, Crescent City, CA; 15 seconds
Sea stacks and mist, Redwood NP, CA, USA
Sea stacks and mist, Redwood NP, CA; 2 seconds
Sea stacks at dusk, Redwood NP, CA, USA
Sea stacks at dusk, Redwood NP, CA; 30 seconds
Crashing wave, Redwood NP, CA, USA
Crashing wave, Redwood NP, CA; 1/4 second
Rocks and the Pacific ocean at sunset, Redwood NP, CA, USA
Rocks and the Pacific ocean at sunset, Redwood NP, CA; 4 seconds

 

Fog and waves at the mouth of the Klamath River, Redwood NP, CA, USA
Fog and waves at the mouth of the Klamath River, Redwood NP, CA; 10 seconds

Related Posts: In the Redwoods; In Redwood Country

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Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over 30 countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.

In the Moment: Michael Frye's Landscape Photography Blog

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