Picture of the day -
July 5, 2007
Stop-action photo of a waterfall
|Image courtesy of Doug Thomson.
Waterfalls create some of the most beautiful scenes in nature, and
over the years I have featured a number of them as "Pictures of the
Day". After all, there is something about silky-white water rushing
over the brink of a precipice that calms the nerves and melts away
the cares of the day.
When photographers set up their equipment in preparation for
photographing a waterfall, they typically set the camera to use a
slow shutter speed in order to blur the motion of the flowing water.
This creates that gorgeous silky-white look of flowing water that
we're all familiar with. But to capture today's mesmerizing image,
photographer Doug Thomson used a fast shutter speed to "freeze the
action" - and the result is a real eye-opener!
When we look at a waterfall with our naked eyes, we see the flowing
water much as it looks in the typical waterfall photograph. The
human eye is incapable of reacting fast enough to objects in motion
to discern the discrete drops of water as they plunge through the
air on their way to the bottom of the falls. What our eyes really
see are a rapid-fire series of "snapshots" with the brain "filling
in the gaps" to make it appear that that we're seeing something akin
to a motion picture. But a camera has the ability to "stop the
action", allowing us to see a single "frame" of that "movie" of a
fast-moving object - hence the ability to see individual water
droplets falling through mid-air in Doug's amazing photo.
Like most everyone else on the planet, I just love watching
countless gallons of silky-white water flow over a waterfall, but
thanks to Doug's wonderful image it's easy to see that it's actually
just an optical illusion created by the slow reaction time of my
very own eyes!
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