Water Music

“Water Music” is a reference to Handel’s collection of suites written for George I in the early 1700s, the king demanding music for a series of concerts on the Thames River. For me it also seems fitting for images like these.

There is a painterly quality to these images, of course. The water softens the “real” of the trees and grass it reflects and the movement in the water distorts the shapes. I’ve not tried to make these images “realistic,” but rather emphasized the contrast of light and dark tones, which also nicely increases the saturation of the colors.

If the images have a painterly look, the feeling of movement in them always calls to mind “water music” for me. These images are of Sand Creek in Aman Park, a bit west of Grand Rapids. At a few points I could hear the murmur of the moving water, though not necessarily when and where I was photographing.

This image is actually two stitched together. I was surprised that it worked, as I handheld the camera and moved it at an odd angle, rather than have Lightroom spit back the images and tell me the panorama failed. The music in this image feels to me more agitated than calming.

The next two images, of the same spot, somehow feel more calming. Maybe that’s an affect of the monochrome interpretation of the scene, compared to the one in color above. The one in color grabs my attention more, and the monochrome ones are comparatively restful.

The last two pictures are experiments. I bought an inexpensive variable neutral density filter this past week, so I could make longer exposures in different kinds of light. The recommended ones tend to go for $150-$500, depending on the size of the filter and quality of the components.

I bought a large one from Tide Optics for about $45. It seems to work well, just like the reviews say, as long as you don’t go to the extreme dark end of the filter, where you start to get severe color casts. (Blue ones with this filter.

To experiment with it, I simply went to Ada Village and took a few images of the river. Here’s a couple of them, one from below the covered bridge, looking north, the other from the north side of the car bridge through Ada Village, also looking north. The exposures ranges from about 1.5 to 4.5 seconds. To really make the river water smooth and glassy, I’d need much longer exposures. But around sunrise or sunset, this filter should get me to much longer exposures, 30 seconds to two or three minutes.

I pretty pleased with it, for a $45 purchase. The blue in the water seems a touch strong, perhaps, but there was a blue sky peeking out from the clouds, so maybe not. The blue in the sky in the first of the two images seems OK. I processed these images in a way that reminds me of Fujifilm Velvia slide film–rich colors, strong contrast, and vibrant greens and blues.

Enjoy the week and stay safe out there!

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