There has been a big trend in recent times for using large stop ND filters to help achieve a slower shutter speed at brighter times of the day, with the one big attraction being able to create that misty look given to water. The one thing that is much harder to get though, is the ethereal look that comes as a result of both a slower shutter and low light. Don’t get me wrong, I love misty water shots but to me the ones taken at dawn or dusk have a much greater sense of mood.
Being a common side effect of shooting water in low light means you don’t need to spend big bucks on fancy ND filters either, but whether you’re out at dawn or dusk there is one thing that you will need, and that is moving water; it’ll be no good if you’re standing by a lake with water so still it’s like looking at a mirror.
Getting that misty effect is quite straight forward; you’ll want to set the iso to it’s lowest setting such as iso100 (200 on some Nikon models), and make sure you have the camera on a tripod with either a cable or remote release. Ideally you’ll want to be aiming for a shutter speed greater than 1 second as it is at this speed that water starts to blur nicely. Your choice of f~stop is up to you but I tend to set mine between f16 and f22 to help with both depth of field and slowing the shutter further.
The picture you see above was shot with the tripod straddling across the middle of a stream, very close to the water with me trying very hard not to slip on the wet rocks. Thank goodness I had a decent pair of walking shoes on. It was taken at iso200 for 30seconds with the white balance set to sunny. Because of the time of day ( late eve) the shot has been given a very blue cast, but when I tried to correct for this in Lightroom it seemed to lose its mood, so I left it as shot.