Colorado River Reflections At Lees Ferry (Arizona)

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This is a photo of Colorado River and Marble Canyon in the vicinity of Lees Ferry in Arizona. I took it on the fourth day of my driving photography trip to the American Southwest.

You can follow the recap of my trip on this blog (American Southwest Photography Trip Recap)

Daytime Long exposure photography without Neutral Density (ND) filters

Today I want to share the technique I used during my trip to archive longer exposure effect without actually using the long exposure. Confused? If you are, then you will love this hack.

Arizona. Colorado River. Lees Ferry
Loc: 36.865357, -111.587552


The long exposure photography produces the beautiful blurring effect of the moving elements of the composition such as water and clouds. In order to achieve the effect, you need to use longer duration shutter speed starting from 0.5 seconds and up to 30min or longer depending on what effect you want to create.

When you use the long exposure you normally need a tripod because you can not prevent camera shake shooting hand-held. And, when you shoot in the broad daylight you also need a Neutral Density Filter to overcome another obstacle: the abundance of the light.

I reached the Lees Ferry around midday and when I measured the exposure of the scene I could see that there was no way I could achieve the shutter speed of couple second without extra equipment. The exposure values were the following: f9, shutter 1/640, ISO 100. If I cranked up the aperture to the maximum value of f22 I could get the shutter speed of 1/100 only, not even close to what I needed.

Instead of using 10 stop Neutral Density Filter I decided to use my new favorite technique I outlined in detail in my recent tutorial Long Exposure Photography Without a Tripod.

I set up my camera on a tripod and with the help of the wireless remote trigger, I took 10 consecutive shots of the scene. Later, when I checked the metadata of the photos I could see that it took me 11 sec to complete 10 shot sequence.


I imported all 1o images into Lightroom.

I applied one of my Lightroom presets (Golden Gate from Landscape Collection Vol.1) to all 10 shots.

I selected 10 images in Lightroom and opened them as layers in Photoshop.

I selected 10 layers and converted them to a Smart Object and blended the data of all layers inside of the Smart Object using Stack Mode tool in Photoshop.

This resulted in a long exposure effect by moving water of Colorado River.

I managed to achieve the effect of 11 seconds exposure without using Neutral Density Filters or long shutter speed.

For the detailed tutorial of this technique check Long Exposure Photography Without a Tripod.

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Camera: Sony a6000
Lens: Sony 16-70mm
Focal Length: 60mm
ISO: 100
Aperture: F9.1
Shutter Speed: 1/640
Tripod: FEISOL Tournament CT-3442  – Check my FEISOL Tournament CT-3442 Review.
Ballhead: FEISOL CB-40D

Processing: Lightroom HDR Preset Based Workflow

Lightroom: import, tagging, preset based processing (Golden Gate preset from Landscape Collection), export 10 images to Photoshop.
Photoshop: converting 10 layers to Smart Object and Blendingcontrast, color correction, cleaning with the help of the stamp tool.

Photoshop Plugins: 

  • Topaz DeNoise was used to reduce digital noise (sky, river).
  • Topaz Clarity was used to enhance details and boost colors (rocks mostly).