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During my visit to La Jolla, California, this diminutive egret not only greeted me every morning but he remained motionless on more than one occasion affording me an opportunity to use slow shutter speeds to accentuate the movement of the water. Generally one needs a shutter speed of 1/2 second or more to achieve the silky effect of flowing water. The longer the exposure, the smoother the water will appear so experimenting by altering shutter speeds will allow you to determine the degree of texture and detail that is most pleasing for the scene.
Incorporating an animal into a scene complicates the process because a slow shutter speed will result in blurring and ghosting should the animal move; the bird or animal must be completely motionless to maintain detail and sharpness.
Depending on the time of day and amount of light, exposure parameters may require adjustment in order to realize adequately slow shutter speeds. Lowering ISO to 100 and stopping down your lens to it’s smallest aperture (f/22 -f/32) is often necessary. If lowering ISO and stopping down is not enough to lower shutter speed to 1/2 second or longer, a neutral density filter may be used. An ND or neutral density filter is basically a filter made of black glass; they come in various strengths and function to reduce the amount of light entering the lens. A remote shutter release and tripod are absolutely required to eliminate camera shake during the exposure.
A Male Ring-necked Pheasant amongst the salt flats at Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Montana, May 2017. Canon 5D IV, 500mm f/4 IS + 1.4x Mark III, ISO 800, 1/3200 second @ f/7.1, image size 5841 x 3894 pixels.
Soon after the male pecks and stirs the water around the female, he stands on her back and flaps and stretches his wings.