Angular Flow No. 2 / by Todd Henson

Angular Flow No. 2

The Story

Angular Flow No. 2 is a photograph of water flowing over a dam above Great Falls on the Potomac River, between Maryland and Virginia. This photograph was created on the Virginia side of the river. A previous image, Angular Flow No. 1, was created on the Maryland side. As with the previous photograph, I had been photographing the falls and some of the various birds that congregate along the river.

At one point I ended up at the dam upriver from the falls. For the previous photograph I was standing upriver from the dam looking downriver. For this photograph I was standing just downriver from the dam looking upriver.

As before, I loved the patterns and tones created by the flowing water as it flowed over the dam. And I wanted to capture the interesting forms created by the churned up water below the dam, so I knew I needed a fast shutter speed.

The Technique

To get a fast shutter speed I just needed to open up the aperture of my lens, which lets in more light allowing the sensor to get a proper exposure in less time. As a side effect this also reduces the depth of field, but I chose such a small portion of the dam, and this was intended to be an abstract image, so the shallow depth of field wasn’t a great concern. You can see the water closest to and furthest from the camera is slightly out of focus due to the large aperture.

Using an aperture of f/5.6 and raising my ISO to 800 let me use a fast shutter speed of 1/2500 second, freezing the foaming water below the dam and letting us see some of the interesting patterns.

The Processing

Below is the raw image before I made any adjustments in Adobe Lightroom. It is a color image, but there isn’t much color and it didn’t contribute anything to the photograph so I knew I would convert to black and white.

The original raw image for Angular Flow No. 2

The exposure was a little darker than I would have preferred so I raised the exposure in Lightroom, lightening up the water. I also brightened the whites and darkened the blacks to add a little more contrast. And finally, I converted the image to black and white and adjusted each color channel to balance the tones. In this case there wasn’t much color in the image so I didn’t tweak much.

Angular Flow No. 2 - The final version in black and white

What do you think, would you have done anything differently? Let me know in the comments below.