Tips for Water Photography

Posted on: 22nd December 2013

Water is not only necessary for survival but it is in more ways than one is the very essence of life. That’s why it offers so much potential as a subject for photography. The calmness of a pond, the vibrant movement through the streams, the sheer power of a water falls or even its majestic ways to carry a surfer to the shore are just a few evidences to its complexity as a medium for nature photographers. Read on to find out some techniques you can use for your water photography.

  1. Waterfalls are a common subject for photography. Put further emphasis on its captivating power is to use a slow shutter speed. Start with 2 seconds, or until you find the perfect timing. A tripod is a must for this composition because you want to avoid even the tiniest camera shake. Do not use a flash. Make the images sharp by opting for an f/16 depth of field (DOF). You can totally avoid blurred shots by using a cable release or the camera’s self-timer.
  1. If you are trying to capture magnificent water photos during the day, you would always have to use slow shutter speed if you don’t want light to come flooding in your camera. You can use a polarizing filter or a neutral density filter. You can also opt for the lowest possible ISO (25, 50, or 100).
  1. Water is always moving seamlessly and fluidly. Freeze its movement to get the most dramatic effect. You can achieve this by using a faster shutter speed. Freezing the action can also be made possible by opening the aperture wide open or using a flash.Water Photography
  1. During calm days, water can be used as a mirror to reflect interesting elements in the background. It may be branches of tree, those dews hanging by the flower petal or a passing animal. Do not use the flash to avoid getting a ‘hot spot’ in the water. Sun glare can be minimized by attaching a polarizing filter. Avoid blurred shots by choosing the right shutter speed.
  1. Still waters have a deep resounding effect to the image. Check out the weather patterns so you can set up your cameras in days when dramatic skies would be available. You can also do your shoot during sunrise or sunset. Look for a focal point like a boat, a tree or a rock. This will add more interest and complexity to your image. Use the aperture priority mode and not less than f/8 for a greater depth of field. Allow the camera to choose the desirable shutter speed depending on the light condition.
  1. Water drops are a subject for seasoned photographers. It requires patience, timing and strategy. Set your camera on a tripod so you can attach a remote control or a shutter release cable. Multi shot mode or continuous mode is perfect for this composition. Use a macro lens and make sure that you have a source of light from the top of the water. If you can, fill a tub with water. Or just wait when a droplet would fall from a water source. As the shutter starts taking a series of image, one of these would definitely capture that moment when the droplet hits the surface.

Recommended Settings

Capturing the precise water movement you want for your image will depend on the shutter speed so start with having at least 2 seconds on it. Darker surroundings would require longer than that, about up to 20 seconds. Use fast shutter speed or flash to freeze moving water. If you want to have many choices, use the multi-shot mode.

Recommended Equipment

For water photography, a tripod is a must. It would serve as a sturdy base for your camera. During the day, you would also need polarizing filters as well as neutral density filters. If you are taking the shots in a studio environment, a powerful auxiliary flash would come in very handy. It would totally prevent all signs of blurring.


Water represents endless possibilities for photography. Take advantage of its versatility to create interesting compositions. You don’t have to travel far to an exotic water location to get what you want. Even the water sources at home or at a nearby park would suffice. That would also put your creativity into test. You can also make a composition and take a picture of it using both slow shutter and fast shutter speed. That would give you a lot of different yet striking results.

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