Rushing Stream in the Great Smoky Mountains

Fast Moving Water

A rushing stream in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A stream rushes right toward us in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as seen during our July 2021 visit. And no, I was not standing in the stream.

Water always makes a photo more interesting. I am not sure why that is true, but it is. Perhaps that is because water is never still and it never has a definite shape. Wind is the same way, but it is much easier to photograph water than wind. After all, you can’t actually see the wind, but instead, you can only see its effects as it moves things around. You can see water, however, and it always seems to be interesting.

Water in photographs is even more interesting if you can somehow capture its motion, such as with a long exposure to show the moving water as blurred. That is what I did here. Not a very long exposure, mind you, but just long enough that you get the sense of the water moving toward you.

And no, I was not standing knee-deep in water when I took this photo, because I had left my hip waders at home. Actually, I did not leave my hip waders at home because I do not have any hip waders. I was actually standing on a rock in the middle of the stream, high and dry, and with a firm grip on my camera to make sure it stayed high and dry as well. I liked how from that rock it looked like the water was coming right for me, as if it were about to push me over and take me with it. But the rock was large enough that the water went right around it.

Different Water

Personally, I like the water in this photo better than the water in the photos of the previous post. If you don’t remember the photos in the previous post and have not clicked on that link yet, here’s the thing: the water in those previous photos was all frozen. Not frozen in time with a slightly long shutter speed like in this photo, but frozen in ice due to the cold weather and the ice storm that we had. While the water in this stream photo was cool, it was a refreshing kind of cool on a warm summer day. Water as ice is way past cool and on into cold. True, ice looks cool, but you have to brave the cold to get that cool look.

But I don’t control the outdoor thermostat around here. God takes care of that for me. So I just enjoy whatever kind of weather he sends to wherever we happen to be. And I take some photos of what happens to look cool, even if it is actually cold.

And I am thankful that we have water, even when it freezes sometimes. Because life without water would be much more difficult.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

About the Photo

If you are wondering just how slow of a shutter speed was necessary to get this blurry water look, I used a speed of 1/20 of a second. That did the trick. That is also about as long of a shutter speed as I can use and still hold the camera steady.

For that shutter speed, I had the aperture set at f/8. I could have used a longer shutter speed by using an aperture setting of f/18 or f/22. But then I would have needed to use a tripod, which was back in the car. Or I could have set my camera on the rock that I was standing on, but I am not sure that would have been a good idea.

So a handheld photo with a very slightly long shutter speed worked just fine.

Photo: A single Raw exposure, processed in Luminar AI. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
Lens: Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens
Date: July 21, 2021
Location: Great Smoky Mountains National ParkTennessee


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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.