Silky water

I was hiking with the kids the other day and we came across this beautiful water fall spanning across three natural bridges. The place is called Baatara Pothole located near Tannourine in North of Lebanon.

Baatara gorge waterfall. The cave is known as the "Cave of the Three Bridges." Shot without a neutral density filter at 1/30 sec, F/8, ISO 100.

I wanted to hike light so I didn't bring my tripod and neutral density filter (used to darken the scene and thus shoot at slower shutter). I shot the scene below with a 10 stop NDF thus the silky effect on the water fall.

Montmorency water falls in Canada. Shot with a 10 stop neutral density filter. Notice the colors are muted due to the filter.

The Baatara gorge waterfall was breathtaking. I started shooting knowing that I have to blur the water somehow in Photoshop. So I thought writing this post to show you a quick way to do it that it looks as silky as possible kind of the same effect if you were using a neutral density filter.

  1. Open the selected image in Photoshop after completing all global adjustments in Lightroom
  2. Duplicate the background layer (I always work non-destructively). You can use the shortcut Cmd + J (Mac) / Control + J (Win)
  3. Select the Laso tool (L) and make a rough selection around the water fall. You don't have to be very precise. Expand the selection by 1 or 2 pixels (Menu - Select - Modify - Expand)
  4. Hit Cmd + J (Mac) / Control + J (Win) to create a layer with the selection
  5. Make sure you are on the newly created layer with the cutout. No go to menu - Filter - Blur Gallery - Path Blur (Photoshop CC and up)
  6. By default you will be presented with the Blur Gallery dialog panel to the right and a blue arrow in the middle of the canvas going from left to right. Change the orientation of the arrow so that it points from top to bottom. 

Make a rough selection

Change the path from top to bottom

The Path Blur dialog box

Now play around with Speed, Taper and End Point Speed sliders to your taste until you reach a satisfactory silky water effect. That is all to it. Now it's your turn.