Any photographer will at some point in their photographic journey capture scenes with water in. That could be the coast, waterfalls, rainfall or even a fountain in a city. This could only be a good thing as water has the ability to really transform a scene from ordinary to extraordinary. But how can you ensure that you utilize water in your composition effectively and beautifully? Fear not, here are 5 tips to help you on your way.
Naturally, one of the great attributes of water is that it is reflective. Any standing water can act like a mirror to reflect the scene behind it. This could be a lake with the reflection of mountains or a city. Or it might just be a wet street which reflects the streetlights. Reflections are a great way to add something different to your photos. The key to capturing reflection in the water is that it needs to be standing still. So, for example, whilst you will be able to capture reflections of something like lights in a fast-flowing river, you won’t be able to see many reflections from something like mountains or buildings. So be on the lookout near any sort standing water, even a puddle. Wet pavements also offer a great opportunity for these kinds of shots.
There is something magical about capturing the movement of water in a silky-smooth effect. Often this is the tried and tested method for most photographers when faced with moving water. Capturing this effect is very easy and anyone can do it. You simply need to ensure that you have a fairly slow shutter speed. The exact speed will depend on how fast the water is moving. For example, a gentle stream might require a shutter speed of a few seconds. Whereas for a thundering waterfall, 1/30 sec might suffice. It also depends on how much smoothness you would like to capture in the water. The slower your shutter speed is the more blur you are going to capture.
These types of photos work best when there is something sharp and in focus to create a contrast against the smooth water effect. So, try to introduce this into your composition. Also do not forget your tripod. It is the most important accessory for capturing these types of shots. Without one, you will not be able to hold the camera steady enough at slow shutter speeds and your image will be blurred.
Show its force
The smooth effect of water will usually give a very pleasing result in a photograph. But sometimes you should also capture sharper shots of water to show the force that it might have. For example, crashing waves against rocks might look nice with a smooth effect. But capture the spray and force of the wave and you may just have an epic shot. In this scenario, the opposite to the point above is required. You will need a faster shutter speed (which will again depend on the speed of the body of water you are photographing).
Its relationship with people
Water has a habit of bringing out the fun in people. I’m sure you have all seen kids and adults playing around in fountains, lakes, swimming pools or the sea. But it can also bring out people’s adventurous or physical side. For example, swimmers, divers or even people kayaking or sailing. There is also a more functional aspect of people needing water for survival. So, activities like fishing or transportation are also great to capture.
The great thing about these scenarios is that they give context to the water and tell much more of a story. In fact, a single scene containing water can easily provide different photographic opportunities that say completely different things. It is a good habit to get into to always try to incorporate people into the scenes so that you can cover off different scenarios. So always be on the lookout in or near water to photograph.
Use it to show a mood
Another reason why water is so great to photograph is that it can help you show a mood in your photo. For example, a rainy day can portray a low or saddened mood when photographed in a certain way. On the other hand, capture someone jumping in puddles and smiling and it can mean something completely different. Being able to photograph water in different ways and also at different times of the day to add mood to your photos is a great asset to have. So, make sure you think about what mood you are trying to reflect and utilise the water in the scene to try and show it.
Water is one of the best things to photograph or to include in your scene. If done well it can transform your image to captivate the viewer much more. Needless to say, that one thing you should be aware of is to make sure you keep your camera dry and safe. Water and digital cameras don’t go well together. Use the tips above for different ways of being able to photograph water.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.