Photographing Water

MASTERING THE ART OF WATER PHOTOGRAPHY

Of all the landscapes I photograph on my hikes, water bodies give me the hardest time. It is particularly irritating because often hiking trails climax with a body of water, be it a lake, watering hole, or picturesque waterfall.

USE THE WEATHER

If the conditions give you clouds, don’t use the dim early morning light, wait until a little later to get a nice shot. Cloudy conditions actually make for great water photographs. The clouds don’t cast long shadows across the water, giving you a nicer composition.

If you get clear conditions, photograph the water in the early morning light. Once the sun is fully up you’ll get harsh shadows across your watery subject. Photographing big bodies of water at sunset often delivers great results. Timing your shots to utilise the conditions are a simple way to boost your water compositions.

USE THE WIND TO GET A GOOD REFLECTION

Water bodies are a great opportunity to test out some reflection photography. Bear in mind that calm bodies of water offer the clearest reflection. When the wind picks up and there are ripples, the reflection will begin to blur. The best conditions for getting a clear reflection is in the early morning when the sky is cloudy. Use a low ISO setting and an aperture setting of f/14 or smaller.

USE A TRIPOD

To capture a good reflection, you will need a shutter speed of 1/50 or faster. For this, you will need to use a tripod to ensure the image isn’t blurred. A fast shutter speed is also great for getting wispy waterfall shots of the water cascading over rocks. For this look, a shutter speed of between ½ a second and two seconds works best. You can really play with this though. At Milaa Milaa Falls in Queensland, I got a breath-taking shot of the falls at a shutter speed of ten seconds.

PLACE SOMETHING IN THE FOREGROUND

An object in front of the body of water in the foreground anchors the image and gives it depth. A small shrub or kayak dragged out of the water makes for an excellent prop to enhance your water image.

FIND AN S CURVE IN THE RIVER OR STREAM

When photographing rivers or streams, the composition can sometimes become boring when photographing straight sections of water. If you can find a curve or, even better, an ‘S’ bend, the stream becoming much more prominent and striking.

Capturing water is not easy. As an element, it is wild an unpredictable, and this is reflected in the photographs it gives. It is incredibly difficult to master and tame, as are all elements, but once you manage it, the pictures it delivers are nothing short of stunning.


 

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Peter Hollingsworth
peterh@dinga.com.au

Peter has been fishing all around Australia since he was a boy. He loves camping, fishing and kayak fishing.