Strange water formation in long exposure

Started Jul 22, 2013 | Questions
nicksjphotography
nicksjphotography New Member • Posts: 23
Strange water formation in long exposure
1

My dad recently took this photo at a stream behind my our house. it was a 2 second exposure with the canon 50d. we are having trouble figuring out why the arch of water droplets is there. shouldn't it be a smooth line since its a long exposure? it seems to be only one droplet since it is all so perfectly parabolic and perfectly spaced. would love any insight anybody has! im really curious!

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EthanP99 Senior Member • Posts: 2,436
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

probably happened at the end of the exposure, rolling shutter effect? Depends on the orientation of the photo.

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(unknown member) Forum Pro • Posts: 11,521
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

i'm going to go with a reflection off a filter.

either that or there's a weird fish species in your backyard creek.

Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,888
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure
3

If the leaves were moving in the wind they could have created a natural stroboscope at that area, with the droplet appearing every time the leaves moved to open a gap for the light?

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Quirino2k Regular Member • Posts: 170
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

nice picture.. funny that droplet there..

also looks like light must have hit something.. cos one of the droplets has star spikes on it..so it must have been very bright..

or its a UFO

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David Naylor
David Naylor Contributing Member • Posts: 806
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

nicksjphotography wrote:

My dad recently took this photo at a stream behind my our house. it was a 2 second exposure with the canon 50d. we are having trouble figuring out why the arch of water droplets is there. shouldn't it be a smooth line since its a long exposure? it seems to be only one droplet since it is all so perfectly parabolic and perfectly spaced. would love any insight anybody has! im really curious!

Very strange! I'm confused.

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Jan Hladik New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

It reminds me of something you sometimes see in long time exposures of the sky at night: Planes with blinking lights look like a pear necklace. But it's still hard to imagine a blinking drop of water or a blinking mini-salmon trying to jump up the "waterfall"...

TDR1 Contributing Member • Posts: 540
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

Wow, that's an odd one. I at first assumed that the drop of water was moving away from the waterfall but when I looked more closely it seemed to be moving towards it, i.e. moving back away from the camera. The lower drops nearer the waterfall look less well formed.

Could be wrong though.

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TDR1 Contributing Member • Posts: 540
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

TDR1 wrote:

Wow, that's an odd one. I at first assumed that the drop of water was moving away from the waterfall but when I looked more closely it seemed to be moving towards it, i.e. moving back away from the camera. The lower drops nearer the waterfall look less well formed.

Could be wrong though.

Actually, ignore that, I'm pretty sure I've got that backwards. Water drops tend to take on more of a round sphere shape gradually.

I've noticed that if you look to the bottom left of the waterfall you can see other similar but less clear drops.

It looks like someone has used a flash with a multi/strobe type feature.

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Alastair Norcross Veteran Member • Posts: 7,097
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

Perhaps the droplet was rotating as it flew through the air, and caught the reflection only at certain angles? It's certainly a cool effect.

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NancyP Veteran Member • Posts: 6,390
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

Water hits a very small regularly oscillating structure and is deflected up and back towards the falls. I don't have a clue about the exact nature of the oscillating/vibrating structure but it is clear that the vibration is a stable frequency that separates the initial stream into discrete droplets upon reflection from/ passage through the vibrating structure.

bio-geeks out there - think about flow cytometric cell sorter nozzle transducer.

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rdspear Veteran Member • Posts: 4,601
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

My first thought was as noted above - a continuous flow with some type of intermittent lighting.  But looking at it full screen, the background behind the path of the "drops" isn't interrupted at all.  With intermittent lighting, the unlit stream should still darken/blur/distort what's behind the unlit part of the path.  I don't see anything.

The decreasing, then increasing, space between the "drops" do make it seem like it's something moving under the force of gravity. So some sort of specular reflection/ghosting doesn't seem to make sense.  Unless it's ghosting of an intermittently lit flow of water outside the frame.

And it appears that the top of the arc is higher than the falls, so it couldn't be the source of any water splashing upwards.

Very interesting - I have no good answer.

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TDR1 Contributing Member • Posts: 540
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

NancyP wrote:

Water hits a very small regularly oscillating structure and is deflected up and back towards the falls. I don't have a clue about the exact nature of the oscillating/vibrating structure but it is clear that the vibration is a stable frequency that separates the initial stream into discrete droplets upon reflection from/ passage through the vibrating structure.

bio-geeks out there - think about flow cytometric cell sorter nozzle transducer.

That can't be the explanation. That would mean the camera is capturing each water drop and effectively freezing the action. This is a 2 second exposure so each drop should show as a faint unbroken arc.

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 2,853
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure
1

A 2 second exposure at f/32 and ISO 100 means that you've got an extremely bright scene.  As blown as the highlights in the flowing water are, the drop itself is less bright, which means it could have occurred quickly without the area of brightest lighting being visibly affected.  I'm going with a drop flew threw the air just as a leafy branch broke up the light for just a moment...or it's fake.  I doubt it's fake, so I'm going to have to go with a branch or some other object with a repeating, spaced pattern moved at just the right moment to create a strobe effect.  Shifting light on the forrest floor happens all the time.  In this case, it happened quickly enough to catch the drop but ended up being averaged out in the brightly lit area where it occurred.

TDR1 Contributing Member • Posts: 540
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

This one has really been bugging me today. There should be a simple explanation but it seems to be an impossible photo.

Some possibilities but all seem remote:

  1. Image digitally altered to add the drops in post processing. (I know, not accusing here, but it's got to be considered as a possibility)
  2. Photo is made up of a series of stills with a shorter exposure and then stacked in post processing to produce the soft water effect.. This would mean that the exif was altered to make it appear to be a 2s exposure and the aperture of f32 kind of supports 2s. I think there are around 30 drops, but a drop would take  less than two seconds to make that arc, this puts it way beyond the capabilities of the 50D in terms of FPS.
  3. Strobe effect from a flash being on multi mode. The exif shows no flash but in 2 seconds it could have been triggered manually. I think the ambient light should show a faint arc in between the drops if this was the case, however the blown highlights in the water surface may support this.
  4. Strobe effect from something blowing in the wind and casting a shadow - unlikely anything could be that fast and that regular.
  5. It's not water drops but a static structure of some kind - can't see how that would be possible.

I can't think of any other possibilities. One thing that confuses me is the hight of the arc, it seems to rise higher than the drop of the waterfall which as a splash kind of defies the law of gravity doesn't it?

Aren't there some fish that spit water drops at insects to try and knock them into the water? That doesn't explain the frozen action though.

I think I would go for option 6 as the least unlikely, a flash on multi. It would be out of the shot, somewhere off to camera right. Failing that, I can only assume that it's a result of processing the photo.

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 2,853
It's not the pyramids...

A branch of leaves gently blowing up in the treetops would be a very regular light fluctuation.  As someone else pointed out, it could also be an oblong water droplet twisting through the air and only reflecting directly into the camera with every rotation.  In between it would be too dim to register in any way during a 2 second long exposure.  Imagine it took about 1/4 of a second to make it's journey, each rotation would be a tiny fraction of a second.  As bright as the light is in the sunny portion of the frame there would be plenty of light to show the drop in the exposure during those brief moments.

dwalby Veteran Member • Posts: 5,895
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

very odd, it does appear to have some sort of periodic light reflection property, but no idea what it could be.

Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,888
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure
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howardroark wrote:

'm going with a drop flew threw the air just as a leafy branch broke up the light for just a moment...or it's fake. I doubt it's fake, so I'm going to have to go with a branch or some other object with a repeating, spaced pattern moved at just the right moment to create a strobe effect.

That's what I suggested earlier up the thread. As unlikely as it is, I think it's the best explanation so far.

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Wei Kelun
Wei Kelun Contributing Member • Posts: 524
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

Puzzling indeed. I think it looks like a strobe effect, from something flashing regularly between 16 and 32 Hz. This would exclude a natural source, since a branch in the wind or some other interruption of the natural light would neither be that regular, nor that rapid.

Note that if the pulses came at 16 Hz, then the number of pulses delivered would match the 2-second exposure time.

It would make sense for a stobe to illuminate an isolated event like a random water droplet without having much of an effect on the rest of the water, because the rest of the water would be blurred because it's constantly changing.

Looking into the water, however, there are other instances of sharp details consistent with a strobe catching an isolated droplet or bubble here and there.

With a Canon 5XX flash on MULTI, you can enter the frequency of pulses, the duration of the burst, and the power setting. So I'm voting for a stroboscopic flash programmed for 2 seconds of pulses (matching the exposure time) at 16 Hz.

Perhaps flash was used deliberately as a fill flash, to try and cast some light into the darker areas under the ledge and the leaves. Not a bad idea, but next time, take it off MULTI first!

nicksjphotography
OP nicksjphotography New Member • Posts: 23
Re: Strange water formation in long exposure

i realize it has to be considered but i promise that it is completely unedited and no flash was used. straight out of the camera. The only option i feel is unexplored is if the shutter opening and closing in the exposure somehow only let the light in intermittently. like an extremely quick burst. thanks for all of the ideas. I remain as puzzled as anyone else.

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