5 Tips for Photographing Water

stockxchng-waterfall-stock-photo-by-alitaylorWater seems like such a basic thing that it’s difficult to imagine it as photogenic.  Water has many faces; it can be a lake, an ocean, a stream, a waterfall.  It can be vast amounts of water or a single drop.  Water when frozen or moving is both dramatic and interesting.  Water tends to have reflections which can be highly photogenic but at the same time, there may be days when you want to reduce these.

Here are some tips to get started:


1.    Water drops
Water drops are hard to photograph – put your camera up on a tripod and attach a shutter release cable or use a remote control.  Choose multi shot mode so you can take lots of images one after the other.
Use a macro lens and have a light source from above and under the water.  Fill a tub with water then let a droplet fall into the water.  At the same time, let the shutter start so it takes a series of images and one should capture the moment the droplet hits the surface. With this technique, practise makes perfect!
2.    Freezing water
Use fairly fast shutter speed and/or flash in order to freeze the action.  Use a tripod and multi/continuous shot mode is advised as you will want to capture a series of shots of the water moving before selecting the best one.  Ones of someone splashing for example will normally show the water as a burst, going through the sky.
3.    Reflections
Look out for interesting details when you are shooting reflections.  There’s no point shooting something dull and uninteresting – are there animals passing? Is there are tree branch? Are there other creatures walking past?
Don’t use flash as this will leave a ‘hot spot’ in the water and attach a polarizer filter as this reduces glare from the sun that may be present in the water.  Choose a reasonable shutter speed so there is no blurring, especially if the water is moving a little.
You want to wait for fairly calm conditions when shooting reflections in the water.
4.    Waterfalls
Use a long shutter speed – you need to experiment to find the perfect timing but starting from two seconds is a good point.  You must place your camera on a tripod – hand holding it will never do – and never use flash.  You can also choose a small depth of field of f/16 so that the image looks sharp.
5. Moving water on bright days?
On a bright day, you may find choosing a long shutter speed problematic.  So what you need to do is to use a neutral density filter.  This is attached on the end of your lens and blocks out the amount of light entering it, meaning you can choose a longer shutter speed.  You can also use a polarizer at the same time.  Another option is to choose a low ISO if 50 or even 25 if your camera allows it.  The lower the ISO the more light the camera needs to capture an image so this may force the camera to give you a slower shutter speed and as a bonus, you will have a very fine grained image.



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