A new long exposure: Silky smooth

A few weeks ago I was doing a hike in the Val d’Areuse near Boudry in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel. It is the home of the Gorges de l’Areuse. The Gorges de l’Areuse is a narrow gorge through the limestones of the Jura, shaped by the Areuse river. One of the things I wanted to do was to shoot long exposures of the flowing water and nature’s details in it.

It is always a bit hard to predict how a long exposure image of a mountain river rapid will look. I tend to be on the look-out for stones or wood with a bit of character or a unique colour. Besides that, I tend to look for light patches. These can give a long exposure photograph a distinctive look and feel. I think that in this case, I found an excellent combination. Hope you like this long exposure of a mountain river rapid!

I used my Nikon D3x with a 24-70 f/2.8 lens and combined a Lee 10-stop and a Lee 3-stop ND filter to push the exposure to about 2 minutes.

Cheers, Johan 🙂

Silky smooth water

A long exposure photograph of flowing water and stones in a mountain river.

187 thoughts on “A new long exposure: Silky smooth

  1. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Ben: sorry missed your comment earlier! Yes, I agree. That is also what makes this type of photography hard. I find it quite difficult to foresee what the result will look like. I knwo what ingredients to look for, but the end result can always be a bit fo a surprise 🙂
    @Shane: thanks Shane! Interesting comparison. I know what you mean 🙂

  2. Ben Coope says:

    Cool little detail Johan, have you noticed that the colours are so much better with a long exposure like this, they are more saturated and smoother, the short test shots before putting on the 10 stop always seem flat to me when compared.

  3. Margaret Tompkins says:

    It’s so incredibly gorgeous! I love the awesome colour and textures! Those wispy clouds make it so dream like! It’s wonderful! Is this where you hiked? It looks rugged!

      • Margaret Tompkins says:

        Hi Johan , I did view it large! You’ve got me thinking. Is this a close-up or macro? To me it looks like miles of tundra that could be very difficult to travel. Did I get it wrong?

        • Johan Peijnenburg says:

          It is a close-up of a mountain river bed, shot as a long exposure Margaret 🙂 The “clouds” is water flowing …

          • Margaret Tompkins says:

            Awesome!! I’ve been fooled! The clouds are really water with long exposure and the epic vista that I “saw” is somewhat smaller. My brain definitely saw one of your magnificent mountain vistas! I hope I haven’t offended you! Now that I know what I’m looking at, I like it even more!! Many thanks!!

          • Johan Peijnenburg says:

            Lol, no worries Margaret. I don’t get offended that easily. Thanks for the feedback :)

  4. Diego Cattaneo says:

    Hi Johan! I saw this browsing on google currents from the train this morning 🙂
    Wonderful shot! I tried some long exposure too, but I need to practice more 🙂

  5. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @Scott: the thumbnail indeed can throw you off 🙂 Glad you like it!
    @Francis: thanks! Glad to see you around again Francis 🙂
    @Lisa: thanks for the wow. I always love that! Glad to see you around again as well 😀

  6. Stan Showalter says:

    I like the abstract nature of this, in that it is hard to tell exactly what you are seeing (which is part of what makes it interesting.) About how far is between the lens and the middle portion of the image. To me, it looks to be about 1.5 feet/.5 metres, but I’m not sure as there isn’t and identifiable reference for scale.

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      thank you! I think I was about half a metre to a metre from the middle stone … but not 100% sure anymore :)

  7. Suzanne Goodwin says:

    This image has a quiet, otherworldly quality – colour is simply gorgeous as is the sheen on the rocks. Depending on how one views it, the image could almost be interpreted as an aerial landscape with fog. Lovely work.

  8. Johan Peijnenburg says:

    @John: thank you John!
    @Sarah: glad you like it Sarah!
    @Gérald: merci 🙂
    @Candace: thanks for the compliment Candace!

  9. Wilfried Haferland says:

    A good photo, I like the dof and the smoothness created by the flow… You perfectly chose those 126 seconds. Thank god you didn’t set 125 or 127 😉 Thank you, my friend!

  10. Patrice PVK says:

    this is so Wow Johan. I love everything : the post processing, the tonality, the framing… Everything. Well done.

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      thanks! I really like this stuff and usually prefer it over doing the wider views of mountain rivers and waterfalls like you do. Need to practice more on the latter :-)

      • Randall Sanger says:

        Johan – I love detail and stream isolation images such as this, and I used to do more of them, but now my wide angle lens rarely leaves the camera – you’ve inspired me to start doing this type of image again!

  11. Julia Anna Gospodarou says:

    Lovely image Johan! I’ve seen it yesterday but I’m very short of commenting these days (time issues) and meant to come back to it later. So here I am telling you that you made a perfect choice of the place and light here, everything turned out just great: textures, colours and this ethereal water flowing among the rocks… beautiful!

  12. Laurent Coppée says:

    Wonderful image Johan! One can almost imagine looking at a tilt shift image of some older mountains with clouds 🙂
    Great combination of colour/texture and light. Well spotted and executed :-)

  13. David Kruse says:

    Beautiful, creative work here Johan! It’s always a pleasure coming across dedicated artists such as yourself. I look forward to seeing more more of your portfolio as the journey unfolds!

  14. Yann Lefeuvre says:

    Nice shot. I am suprising by the quality of this capture. With a 126s capture the noise seems null. Great job.

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Thanks! It’s shot at ISO100 with long exposure NR turned on. I didn’t apply any noise-reduction in post. So it’s the camera I need to thank :-)

      • Yann Lefeuvre says:

        Thank you for the info Johan. I have made few long exposures for night shots, but I have always turned off the NR of the camera. I’ll reconsider this option in the future ;-)

        • Johan Peijnenburg says:

          I do turn it off when I shoot a sunset for instance, as time is vital then. For shots like these, I tend to leave it on because I like the result and usually don’t mind the extra wait time. I’ll be setting up for the next shot or moving on again whilst it does its thing.

  15. Joanna Pechmann says:

    Great effect Johan, the combination of textures and silky, smooth water created a wonderful abstract image from nature:) That is what I love !

  16. Kerry Murphy says:

    Wow! I love the bit of water between the foreground rocks and mid-ground rocks. The result to me is a dof that is a bit disorienting! Very nice, Johan.

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Yes Kerry. It is a bit of a “complex” image in that sense. Glad you like the effect. It wasn’t me … it was the crystal clear icy mountain water :-)

  17. Peter de Rooij says:

    Beautiful, and a bit (pleasantly) disorienting (alternating areas of focus and blur – I get confused easily:-)

  18. Jerry Johnson says:

    Whether it’s a majestic mountain or a gentle flow of water, your photos always portray your dedication to excellence. Thank you for the background information, as always, that makes your photos ALL the more special to behold. :-)

  19. Anette Mossbacher says:

    First from where did you purchase the Lee filters here in Swissyland ??? ( I am after those, but quite costy ) Second wonderful image. I love the colours, light, rocks and the flow of the water. Wonderful :-))

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      first thank you !!! Second … not from Swissyland. Couldn’t find any dealer that had them (excepts for circular one’s). I got the 3-stop Lee from B&H a couple of years ago. Got two 10-stop Lee’s from speedgraphic.co.uk recently. Waited for about 4 months.

  20. Johan Swanepoel says:

    The result is outstanding and very special. Dreamlike with lovely control of the tones. Art for sure. Congratulations – it is so rewarding when everything comes together like this!

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      thank you Johan! Really glad you like it. It is a bit different then the other one with stones and water, but I did think this was nice as well 🙂

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Thank you or the nice compliment Stefanie. Part of the DOF is caused by mother nature through flowing water :-)

  21. Tom Tran says:

    Ahhh…I see it has been a good “away” time, Johan. 🙂
    What a great image. I like the sharp details of the rock and the contrasting flow of the water.

  22. Dawid Martynowski says:

    This is very beautiful. At the beginning I thought that this image macro,is tilt-shift effect. Excellent work my friend. Have a nice day :)

  23. Dane Clingan says:

    I’d say it worked out really well this time. The foreground rock is so sharp and prominent that it holds the eye back from the bright horizon… until it’s time to go there. Wonderful!

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      Thanks Dominique! We could go and practice together on shots like these. Do you know any mountain rivers with interesting rocks in our area?

      • Dominique Dubied says:

        Les Gorges de la Jogne could be an interesting place to go Johan. It is a walk along the river up to the Montsalvens lake. We could have a try?

        • Johan Peijnenburg says:

          yes! Thanks for reminding me of that one. Totally forgot about it. That’s just before the corner when you drive from Broc to Charmey no?

          • Johan Peijnenburg says:

            did you ever try the trail towards the lake from there as well? Now the only thing we need is a date and some nice weather :-)

          • Dominique Dubied says:

            Johan I have hiked the trail up to the lake.
            I agree about the weather! This week-end is no good…
            I propose to wait for a nice day during the next weekends (except the next one beacause of the weather). I will also need to check my schedule because of the family…

          • Johan Peijnenburg says:

            I am pretty flexible, so just let me know when is convenient for you! Been down to Lac Gruyère last weekend by the way for the first time … cold and windy, but now I know what it looks like close by :)

  24. Charles Lupica says:

    Beautiful image Johan. I think you deserve a place in any list of “Top Gun” Long Exposure photographers.

    • Johan Peijnenburg says:

      thank you! Think I will need to practice a bit more to get into those … this is from the hike we did together btw :-)

      • Charles Lupica says:

        I’ve been looking at some of the “best LE photographers” lists and I truly believe that you’re better than quite a few of them. If I build such a list, I’d have no problem with adding you to it; no special treated for people I know.

        BTW: I figured it was from our walk and I’m jealous.

          • Charles Lupica says:

            Never stop practicing. That’s when you start to lose the edge.

            No, I haven’t ordered the filters because the total for everything I wanted was 1000 francs. I was thinking about asking if you still have the extra Lee holder and what I would need to use it. What lens do you recommend for LE ?

            I would like to go with you to practice but it would be a bit foolish without a holder, adapter and filter :-))

          • Johan Peijnenburg says:

            Charles, why don’t you just order a 10 stop circular one from B+W? It’s more hassle but you can start for a few 100 francs. Yes, I still have the spare holder and actually also a spare 10-stop Lee filter, but I decided that I want to keep both for myself. These things break easily and given the waiting period … think the holder are in stock again however!

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