Tuesday, April 16, 2019
We live on a planet that is 70% water. But photographing water can be a difficult subject. How do you shoot it, how do you expose for it, how do you portray the water as a moving, living thing?
There are no hard and fast answers to any of those questions. As with beauty, a successful water shot is in the eye of the beholder. But there are some tips that I want to pass along to you.
First, if you want to show the motion of the water you will need a slow shutter speed. How slow is always the next question, and the answer is "it depends." Generally a MINIMUM shutter speed of about 1/4 sec is required, and often a much longer shutter speed of a few seconds is needed to show the flow and movement. Always keep in mind that the slower the water moves, the slower your shutter speed needs to be if you want to show its motion. Fast moving water, especially when it is moving across your field of view, requires a shorter shutter speed than slow moving water that is moving either toward you or away from you.
Second, my preference for time of day is either early morning or late afternoon / evening. The light is generally softer and warmer than in the middle of the day, and that gives a more dramatic or romantic look to the image. This image was made about half an hour before the sun set behind the hillsides near the back end of this view. It was a clear day, so both the blue sky and the greenish-yellow leaves reflect nicely in the water.
Third, to maximize your chances of getting a slow enough shutter speed, it helps to set the ISO at 100. In very bright lighting situations you can use a neutral density filter to help you slow down the shutter speed when needed, but when shooting in the early morning or late afternoon you can generally get a slow enough shutter speed without resorting to any filters.
Fourth is lens choice. I generally use a wide angle zoom lens for moving water in streams and waterfalls. But you can use a telephoto zoom for closer shots of water moving around rocks or other details that you want to concentrate on.
So with these basic ideas you can go out and start creating some beautiful water-based images, or improve on the skills you already have.
0.3 sec (3/10s of a second) at f/22, ISO 100. Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II on Canon 5D Mark II body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "When life places stones in your path, be the water. A persistent drop of water will wear away even the hardest stone." --Autumn Morning Star