Water Wheel

Spinning wheel and waterfall, North Little Rock, Arkansas

Spinning wheel and waterfall, North Little Rock, Arkansas

I have been to the Old Mill many times over the years, and it is one of my favorite places to photograph. It’s a great location at any time of year; but, to me, springtime is the best season to visit, especially when all the flowers reach their full bloom. The colors are simply amazing!

One of the things I have always wanted to photograph at the Old Mill was the rotating water wheel. Unfortunately, it seemed that every time I went to the mill, the wheel was either not spinning because it had gotten broken somehow or it was rotating at a very, very slow speed. While I would always take pictures of it, I would always be disappointed with the images because they just didn’t reflect what I had in mind.

But, I kept going back until, one fine spring day, everything came together for me to capture one of my favorite images. When I arrived before sunrise that morning, the sky was overcast. That was perfect because it meant I would not have to worry about extreme contrast. The wind was calm, so I could take pictures of all the flowers and foliage without fear of any blurring caused by the moving air. It had rained the night before, so the pond was full, and the small waterfalls were flowing nicely. I couldn’t have gotten better photographic conditions if I had asked for them.

I got set up and began shooting. Everywhere I looked I saw all sorts of possibilities. In fact, there was so much to shoot that, when I finally looked at my watch, I was surprised to find that over an hour and a half had passed. So, I kept taking pictures.

During all of this, I kept slowly inching closer and closer to the mill itself. Eventually, I moved to within just a few feet of it. That’s when I the water wheel finally caught my attention, and, this time, it was really spinning!

I took a number of shots, but they just weren’t capturing the feeling I wanted. I started by taking pictures of just the wheel itself, but those weren’t working. Then, I noticed the waterfall beside the wheel, so I took pictures of the wheel and the waterfall, but those weren’t quite it, either.

After thinking about it for a little while, I realized I needed something to help break up all the brown tones in the scene. While there was a small green vine in the upper left corner, it was overwhelmed by the predominance of brown. That poor little vine didn’t stand a chance without some help!

That’s when I noticed the yellowish-green leaves of the plant in the bottom right corner and realized I had everything I needed. I repositioned my tripod. So I could get the slowest shutter speed possible, I set my ISO to its lowest setting of 100 and used the smallest aperture on my lens, f/22. This allowed me to use a shutter speed of 1.6 seconds, which really emphasized the rotation of the wheel while creating the smooth, silky look of the waterfall.

Settings:  Canon 5D Mk II, 40mm, 1.6 sec, f/22


  1. Nice photo. I always appreciate the valuable information you provide on how you capture your shots. I need all the tips I can get to improve my skills! 🙂

  2. Thank you! I’m glad you find it so helpful and informative!

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