On a recent trip to Glacier National Park I experienced incredible wind and storms. While the weather made taking pictures difficult, the conditions and light were stunning. Glacier has a lot of big lakes, so with the wind came large waves. And waves make interesting elements in your photographs, as long as you shoot them at the right shutter speed. How do you know what speed to use?
I photograph moving water based on my image concept. Am I trying to capture a calm, tranquil scene or am I trying to show drama and tension. I typically shoot at slower speeds for silky water with tranquil scenes, and shoot at faster speeds to freeze the water for action shots. One morning I was photographing at Two Medicine lake with dramatic light and huge waves. I realized that this landscape image was more about tension and drama, and I needed a shutter speed to show this feeling in the wave action. The trick was getting the waves with some motion, but not completely washed out like cotton. And on the other hand, I didn’t want to freeze the water since that would be too static. After bracketing my shutter speed for numerous frames, I found 1/3 of a second was just right. There is no right or wrong speed for capturing motion. In the end the motion should support your image concept.