By Alison Stanton – July 28, 2014
From a babbling brook to a crashing waterfall to a serene pool reflecting the clouds above, water can transform a ho-hum photograph into something truly extraordinary.
While you might want it to be as simple as pointing and clicking, there are several tricks and techniques that will help capture the best images possible.
Think About Safety
Shooting near the water requires an inherent knowledge of safety. In addition to not wanting your camera to get wet, you definitely do not want to fall into the lake, ocean or other body of water. To accomplish this, keep a sharp eye on your footing, especially when you are standing on slippery rocks or the bank of a river, notes Digital Camera World.
Safety also includes preparation. If you are taking photos of an ocean, look up the high and low tide schedule ahead of time, and keep your eyes peeled for big waves. If you want to get out on the water, do your homework on boating rules and licenses since these vary by state. For example, if you are in Florida, “you must have a Florida Boater Education I.D. Card to operate any motorized watercraft of 10 HP or more” if you were born after 1987, according to Boater Exam. These classes and licenses are to ensure that you are safe and following the same rules as everyone else on the water.
Use a Slow Shutter Speed
One of the best ways to capture the beauty of a majestic waterfall or a rushing stream is to use a slow shutter speed, notes Exposure Guide. Although this might take some experimentation on your part to find the best setting, starting with 2 seconds is a good idea. Additionally, it’s important to use a tripod rather than hold the camera, and turn off the flash.
If the sun is bright, it might be challenging to have a long shutter speed. To slow it down as much as possible, select a low ISO between 25 and 100, or use a filter to lessen the amount of sunlight hitting the lens.
Check Your Distance
How close you stand or sit to the brook, waterfall or other body of water will influence how blurry the photo will look. Although some photographers want to capture the rushing water and are okay with a blurred image, others want to have a sharp photo. So, the closer the camera is to the water, the more easily and quickly it will get a blurry shot, says Digital Photography.
To avoid this, experiment with both distance from the water and the shutter speed settings. Let the shutter priority dictate both the aperture and the f-stop on the image. As you take each photo using different distances and shutter speeds, note which techniques give you the best results and then experiment with them when photographing different types of water.
Think of Water as a Mirror
Sure, capturing a 100-foot waterfall on film can be a breathtaking accomplishment, but serene pools of water also make for a memorable subject. If the day is calm, find some water that has something reflecting in it like a tree or clouds. Keep the flash off, use a slower shutter speed and capture the reflection.
Alison Stanton has been a freelance writer for the past 14 years. Based in the Phoenix, Arizona area, Alison enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, but especially loves meeting interesting people and telling their stories.