Slow shutter speed is all relative, I think. With the ocean rushing in and retreating, then repeating, I saw the potential for an interesting photograph if I could get the shutter speed right and the timing right.
As I stood in the wet sand with a hand on my tripod, I watched the water surge in and around the lichen-encrusted stone. It would mingle and then trail back out. Sometimes the incoming water flower entirely over the rock and up to my knees. It was rather magical, as it usually is when a Moab desert fellow visits the ocean!
The rock seemed like a refuge for the lichen, who were holding on with everything they had! The ocean movement, sweeping in and out, was what I was playing with. I knew I wanted it slow, but how slow do you go to get the feeling of the force of the water also? If I'd made this at 3 seconds or more, there would be no 'show of force'. I chose not to go that slow. I wanted the viewers' thoughts to think the incoming ocean was on the edge of sweeping around the rock and covering it in one more split second. It ended up being .6 seconds. That's plenty slow for the surging ocean, but it's not fast enough if you're running the 100-yard dash in the Olympics and you come in that far behind the winner. You might as well walk in.
Before I click the shutter, I make a mental selection of the speed and dial that in. In this way, I'm gaining knowledge about the relative speed of water for the effect I want with all the other elements that are at play - volume, angle, obstacles, etc. Predicting the proper slow speed sharpens our minds!
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor