You know those gorgeous waterfall photos? The ones you thought you could only capture with a tri-pod and your DSLR? Well you still need the tri-pod, but you can just as easily using your phone.
First you should have a general understanding of the controls on a camera and what your phones capabilities are with these controls. For this information read this first.
How it Works
Shutter speed. This is the magic that will allow you to freeze motion or capture it. The shutter opens and closes the hole (aperture) that lets the light into your camera in order to capture a photo.
You can have a fast shutter speed which will freeze motion like my pup running or a slow shutter speed which will eventually blur motion like a soft waterfall (or erase it entirely – see The Beauty of Pinhole for this secret).
It is important to note that shutter speed always pairs with aperture. Meaning if you have a slow shutter speed (leaving the aperture open for longer) you will need a closed aperture.
What you need:
On the phone camera shutter speed can be controlled in two ways. One you have the option on most smart phones to use “burst”. This will take a series of photos at a fairly high shutter speed and freeze motion. I our case we want to do the exact opposite so we need to download an app that lets us do so.
Here are my recommendations for your phone:
Android Users: Camera FV5
iPhone Users: Shutter Speed
You will also need a tri-pod and camera mount. You must have a way to stabilize the phone.
I have both a Manfrotto tripod and a Gorilla pod (for wrapping onto the a fence or tree). You may have also heard me talk about the most amazing solid metal mount by RetiCam.
Here are my suggestions:
How to Capture the Waterfalls
Once you have your gear and the app you need to get out and find a waterfall! In the PNW we have lots to choose from. (Let me know in the comments if you want some suggestions).
Choose a stable place for your tripod and start shooting at shutter speeds of about 30 seconds. You can go up from here, but have found I have never needed more than 1 minute to get the effect that I want.
Of course the elements could get in the way so be prepared. If the wind is blowing, the trees or anything surround the waterfall that is moving will also blur. That said, you can sit a person in the photo as long as they stay perfectly still. Basically any motion will also blur.
Consider that you may need to clear the lens each time if you are close to the water fall as well. So have a few microfiber cloths with you. To see how the slow shutter app works make sure to watch the video all the way through!