Silky smooth

A long exposure of flowing water and stones in a mountain river in the Swiss Jura

Silky smooth
April 17, 2012 Johan Peijnenburg
In Photography
A long exposure photograph of flowing water and stones in a mountain river rapid (Johan Peijnenburg)
36mm – f/11 – 126sec – ISO100 – Nikon D3x with 24-70 f/2.8

A few weeks ago I was doing a hike in the Val d’Areuse near Boudry in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel, 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 was after, was 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 special color. In addition I tend to look for light patches that can give a long exposure image a special look and feel. I think that in this case I found a nice combination. Hope you like this impression of a mountain river rapid!

I combined a Lee 10-stop and a Lee 3-stop ND filter to achieve a 126 second exposure at f/11.

Comments (187)

  1. Dave Pattinson 8 years ago

    Love the colours and the textures!!!!

  2. Vishnu Suresh 8 years ago

    Great textures and love the silky feel …

  3. Heather Forcier 8 years ago

    I love the transitions between smooth and sharp. The colors simply glow – wonderful! :)

  4. Author

    Thanks Vishnu and Heather :-)

  5. Beautiful natural rhythms Johan and in some ways looks like an aerial image.

  6. Sangeeth VS 8 years ago

    Lovely work Johan!

  7. Daniel Ewert 8 years ago

    Johan, this is one of my favorites from your portfolio. Dreamy and beautiful image!

    • Author

      that is very nice to here Daniel. It’s a bit different from what I usually post.

  8. very smooth .. very nice Johan

  9. Charles Lupica 8 years ago

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

    • Author

      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 8 years ago

        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.

        • Author

          …. I’ll keep practising anyway Charles 😀
          Did you order your filters already?

          • Charles Lupica 8 years ago

            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 :-))

          • Author
            Johan Peijnenburg 8 years ago

            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!

  10. Dominique Dubied 8 years ago

    Great image Johan ! Very abstract and mysterious.

    • Author

      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 8 years ago

        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?

        • Author

          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?

          • Dominique Dubied 8 years ago

            Right! Down on the right side of the road there is a parking.

          • Author
            Johan Peijnenburg 8 years ago

            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 8 years ago

            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…

          • Author
            Johan Peijnenburg 8 years ago

            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 :)

          • Dominique Dubied 8 years ago

            Ok Johan let’s keep in touch to go there soon :-)

  11. Dane Clingan 8 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      thank you. It is hard to see what isn’t visible yet, but with a bit of practice … 🙂

  12. Paul van Loo 8 years ago

    It’s beautiful Johan !
    The textures are an amazing contrast to the soft water.

  13. 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 :)

    • Author

      Thank you! Interesting analogy. Understand what you mean and glad you like it!

  14. Milena Llieva 8 years ago

    Beautifully done!!!!

  15. Tom Tran 8 years ago

    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.

  16. Stefanie Loges 8 years ago

    Splendid LE Johan!! love the DOF where it is perfectly sharp in the center!

    • Author

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

  17. Johan Swanepoel 8 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      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 🙂

  18. Nikola Nikolski 8 years ago

    This is a very cool shot Johan, i love the colors in it!

  19. Sumit Sen 8 years ago


  20. 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 colors, light, rocks and the flow of the water. Wonderful :-))

    • Author

      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 recently. Waited for about 4 months.

      • 4 months !!! geeeeez :-)) I have the circulars from B&H too, 103 & 106. In Africa I used a “tissue trick” :-))) You can find that here : I used my grey card, worked well, after I got the counting with the seconds synchrone with the camera !!!! :-))) But would love to get some Lee filters, makes life easier. Will check your website, thanks Johan

        • Author

          the alternative would be is to use magnet rings in combination with the circular one’s. I’ll check out that link!

  21. Jerry Johnson 8 years ago

    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. :-)

    • Author

      Thanks for the very kind words Jerry! You should consider doing poetry ;-)

  22. Mikko Tyllinen 8 years ago

    absolultey amazing shot Johan! so beautiful and still mysterious full of live and magical! Fabulous!

  23. Glenda Christina 8 years ago


  24. Peter de Rooij 8 years ago

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

    • Author

      Lol thanks Peter! Glad you still like it 🙂 Hope all is well on the other side of the globe!

  25. Simon Morris 8 years ago

    Super shot Johan – wonderful atmosphere!

  26. Kurt Harvey 8 years ago

    Amazing colors and details Johan. Very beautiful and calming.

  27. Javier Esvall 8 years ago

    Beautiful image Johan.

  28. Oh, I could just immerse myself in that! Beautiful, Johan!

    • Author

      thanks! You sure? This water was very very cold 🙂

      • Johan — sure, I’m sure … it’s rather warm here right now … ;oD

        • Author

          grrr, you’re making me jealous 🙂 How warm?

          • Robin Griggs Wood 8 years ago

            We’re going through a week between high 70ºs and low 80ºs (25º-28ºC).
            My apologies .. ;o)

          • Author
            Johan Peijnenburg 8 years ago

            grrrrr …. still under 10c here …

  29. Ben Locke 8 years ago

    lovely contrast in textures. Great work Johan

  30. Kerry Murphy 8 years ago

    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.

    • Author

      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 :-)

  31. Author

    Thanks a lot for the compliments Kurt and Javier!

  32. Joanna Pechmann 8 years ago

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

  33. Yann Lefeuvre 8 years ago

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

    • Author

      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 8 years ago

        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 ;-)

        • Author

          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.

  34. Debby Vos 8 years ago

    Me like 🙂 or should I say, me + ? Anyway next time i will be joining you when you return!

  35. Radek Vik 8 years ago

    Yeah yeah yeah! Great shot Johan

    • Author

      Lol Radek. Am I boring you?

      • Radek Vik 8 years ago

        Johan, you never bore me 🙂 ! It’s a great shot. I was just implying something like – yeah, he’s done it again, keep them coming!! Beautiful work!

  36. David Herreman 8 years ago

    beautiful image Johan !!

  37. Carsten Kopp 8 years ago

    Very beautiful … I love this soft water look.

  38. David Kruse 8 years ago

    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!

  39. E.E. Giorgi 8 years ago

    wow, so beautiful!

  40. Gemma Costa 8 years ago

    this is so dreamy Johan , wonderful tones

  41. Meg Rousher 8 years ago

    Wow This is a wonderful shot Johan. I love it :)

  42. Awesome Johan ! :)

  43. Athena Carey 8 years ago

    Quite mystical Johan :)

  44. markus rienzner 8 years ago

    wow strong strong image!!! i like it very much!!

  45. Maggy Meyer 8 years ago

    Wowww, what an amazing image, Johan!!! Like from another planet. Love it!!

  46. Laurent Coppée 8 years ago

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

  47. Paul Turkowski 8 years ago

    Geat Work Johan. Like the detail and the LE effect.

  48. Author

    Laurent and Paul: thank you!

  49. 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, colors and this ethereal water flowing among the rocks… beautiful!

  50. Randall Sanger 8 years ago

    Tremendous!! You certainly captured the details of nature in this outstanding long exposure image!

    • Author

      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 8 years ago

        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!

        • Author

          was using my 24-70 this time. Great to zoom in a little like this! Looking forward to seeing yours soon.

  51. KAROL SHEFFIELD 8 years ago

    oh i love your photos thank you for sharing karol sheffield

  52. Mystical and surreal! You always amaze me
    with your photos Johan, great work!

    • Author

      hope I will be able to keep on doing that in the future 🙂 Thanks Emanuele!

  53. Absolutely gorgeous. I love this type of shot and you have really created a true beauty.

  54. Yasmin Simpson 8 years ago

    Woww Johan. Sure is a breathtaking piece of art, very well done!. I can watch at it for hours.

  55. Author

    Sinead: glad you like it 🙂 Thanks!
    Yasmin: still here? :D

  56. Patrice PVK 8 years ago

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

    • Author

      Hey thank you Patrice! Glad you like it. Thanks for the compliment :-)

  57. Francesco Gola 8 years ago

    Awesome my friend! It looks from another planet! Great shot Johan!!

  58. 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!

  59. Author

    Francesco: thanks for the kind words!!
    Wilfried: thank you! Yes, the 126 was crucial obviously :D

  60. John Dunne 8 years ago

    Very lovely abstract Johan

  61. Sarah Hampton 8 years ago

    This is awesome Johan . I love the detail and the misty steam, gorgeous image

  62. Gérald Verdon 8 years ago

    Especially like the texture contrast and the mood it creates. Excellent work.

  63. Candace Bartlett 8 years ago

    Great moody atmosphere! Awesome shot.

  64. Author

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

  65. Suzanne Goodwin 8 years ago

    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.

  66. Joel Tjintjelaar 8 years ago

    This looks great and very abstract Johan – and I do like the colors for a change:)

    • Author

      Thanks Joel! Was starting to get hooked on B&W, so had to do something else this time :-)

  67. Marilou Aballe 8 years ago

    Another stunning of an image Johan ! Beautiful rock colors, smooth silky waters. It’s magical!

    • Author

      Another stunning of an image Johan ! Beautiful rock colors, smooth silky waters. It’s magical!

  68. Scott Horwath 8 years ago

    Very nice Johan! The thumbnail almost looks like a moonlit scenic. 

  69. Stan Showalter 8 years ago

    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 meters, but I’m not sure as there isn’t and identifiable reference for scale.

    • Author

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

  70. Francis Gagnon 8 years ago

    Splendid image, Johan !

  71. Lisa RedWillow 8 years ago

    wow. This is gorgeous

  72. Author

    @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 😀

  73. Don Spenner 8 years ago

    Nice dreamy photograph, Johan , love the cold tones fog like affect of the flowing water.

  74. Diego Cattaneo 8 years ago

    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 🙂

    • Author

      Thanks Diego! Glad you like it. I have been doing a lot of long exposure photography lately. It’s fun. You should try it 🙂

      • Diego Cattaneo 8 years ago

        Check my Brittany and Normandy photos on G+ 😉

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

    • Author

      I think the thumbnail has fooled you 🙂 View it large and you’ll know what I mean …

      • 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?

        • Author

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

          • Margaret Tompkins 8 years ago

            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!!

          • Author
            Johan Peijnenburg 8 years ago

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

          • Margaret Tompkins 8 years ago

            Thanks so much Johan !!!

  76. Eric Rousset 8 years ago

    Quite amazing LE Johan

  77. Superb! It’s almost as if the river resembles a mountain range.

  78. wonderful light and fantastic fine details….. fantastic work

    • Author

      Thank you Peter Paul! Unfortunately not in black and white this time :)

  79. this is fantastic, I think the exposure is perfect and the blue tones are great

  80. Rikard Lindby 8 years ago

    This one I like a lot. Thanks for sharing.

  81. Simply Arlie 8 years ago

    So very beautiful!

  82. Hengki Koentjoro 8 years ago


  83. Aileen Sorenson 8 years ago

    Wow! You have beautiful collections of photos!

  84. Ben Coope 8 years ago

    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.

  85. shane holsclaw 8 years ago

    I soooo love this one Johan! Feels so other-worldly. Like something from the movie Avatar : )

  86. Author

    @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 🙂

  87. Fabio Bucchieri 8 years ago

    excellent work, Johan!

  88. indrukwekende fotos maak je!

  89. Scott Masterton 8 years ago

    elegant shot

  90. Jon Meier 7 years ago

    I love this scene!

  91. Author

    Many thanks Scott and Jon !

  92. Paul Paradis 7 years ago


  93. Ric Lav 7 years ago

    Jolie photographie 

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