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Wanting to know about water photography?

Water is one of the most photographed objects within our images. Whether it’s the surf breaking on a beach, streams & rivers silently flowing through the landscape or lakes reflecting a mirror image of the world around them. Water really is everywhere. Just as there are many types of water, there are also many ways you can photograph it. You can freeze the action of a large waterfall or breaking wave to emphasize the power of the water, or you may want to turn a slow running creek into a ribbon of silky smooth water. The way you expose water will have a dramatic effect on the whole image, so what are the tricks to get the best from your image?

Flowing streams

To give water that soft silky look you need to use a long shutter speed..the longer the better.

Generally anything below a 60th of a second will give the feeling of movements within the image, however to really achieve the feeling of movement and turn the water into a silky ribbon you will need to go down to 1 second or longer. Of course a lot will depend on how quickly the river or creek is flowing, the faster the water is moving the shorter the shutter speed you will need to use. It can often be difficult to get shutter speeds slow enough to achieve the results you want, especially in bright light, so here are a few tips to help you out.

  • Using a polarizing filter can help, not only will it get rid of reflections from the water, giving more depth to the stream, it will also reduce the amount of light getting to the sensor or film (generally by about 2 stops) so you will be able to use an even slower shutter speed.
  • ND filters. An ND filter is a grey filter that reduces the amount of light getting through the lens without altering the colour of the image. ND filters are available in different strengths ranging from a one stop reduction all the way to a 10 stop reduction.
  • Reducing the ISO of your digital camera will also let you set longer shutter speeds.

Also, make sure you use a tripod. Once your shutter speeds go below 60th second you are likely to get camera movement, so don’t ruin a great image because of camera movement.

Water drops

Getting your camera out after rain, or early in the morning when there is still heavy dew around can create some wonderful images. One of the most important things to remember when photographing water droplets is light and the angle it is coming from. Often moving to a slightly different position will have a dramatic effect on how the light reflects off or, through the droplets, changing them from dull looking grey blobs to sparkling crystals.

  • When getting close to a subject try to use a small aperture as this will increase the depth of field within the image.
  • Watch the direction that the light is coming from.
  • Consider using a tripod as shutter speeds can become long, especially when shooting early in the morning.

Freezing the action

To freeze the action of falling water, or even stop the movement of kids playing in water you will need to set a high shutter speed. If your camera has a shutter priority or manual setting this is fairly easy, just set the shutter speed to above 250th of a second.

  • If your camera does not allow you to set the shutter speeds then try setting the picture mode to ‘Action’. This will make the camera set a higher shutter speed.
  • You can also set the cameras ISO to a higher number, this will also help in giving you a faster shutter speed.

Watery mirrors

Reflections in water are often a great way to improve what can be sometimes dull or uninteresting images. Still water will produce mirror like reflections, while a light breeze can create patterns on the waters surface (throwing a pebble into the water can also create some great patterns). Look for opportunities after rain, in puddles or on wet ground. These can often provide some great results.

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