How To Capture The Beauty Of Water Scenes

We think that most of you would agree that our world is filled with natural beauty.

Whether that’s in the hills and mountains, or indeed through the water that fills and surrounds our lands.

How To Capture The Beauty Of Water Scenes

But as a photographer, how could you possibly capture the beauty of water scenes?

You’ll likely be wondering if there’s some handy tips out there that could help you truly capture what you’re hoping to portray.

Luckily, we’ve done the work for you. Our handy guide below shows you some excellent ways to do just that!

Here’s how to capture the beauty of water scenes!

Reflections Can Add Color

One of the greatest advantages of photographing water is the fact that reflections are an abundant source.

As a result of this, you can actually use these reflections to your advantage which adds plenty more color and impressionism to your photography.

Of course, to do this in the most effective way, you’ll need to ensure that you’re photographing images in still water.

This will produce a gorgeous still, yet mirrored image – which is something you will find difficult to replicate with other types of photography.

However, this is not to say that you should never take photographs of active water.

You can actually produce less distant reflection if you choose to do this, which creates a beautiful blur of colors!

One such way you can see this is by photographing sunlit foliage in the water.

When the water moves, anything on top of the water reflects through the moving water and creates its own beautiful color blurs.

Don’t Limit Yourself To The Shore

One of the most common problems that photographers have when it comes to capturing the beauty of water is the fact that they often do not look past the shore.

Indeed, while you can capture some glorious photographs this way, there’s a lot more on offer.

Don’t be afraid to get into the water (of course, you’ll need to properly prepare to do this!).

This way, you can find some unique angles and some excellent composition. One favorite of ours using this technique is capturing imagery upstream.

Now, it’s important that if you’re going to enter the water for some great shots (see also “Water Photography Techniques For Beginners“), you need to take some precautions.

Always be aware of your surroundings and be careful near fast moving water.

It’s also important to know that some underwater surfaces will be uneven and difficult to see due to natural mud and rocks.

Therefore, always be careful with where you’re placing your feet.

You will also of course need to ensure that you’re protecting your camera and any other gear you’re taking with you.

You can often find some great protection equipment in specialist stores or online.

A good idea however is to go with someone else to watch over your other equipment on land!


When it comes to capturing the beauty of water, perhaps one of the greatest things to think about is waterfalls, and a fantastic way to capture their beauty is by using overcast light which can reduce the contrast in the scene.

By doing this, you will also be able to reduce any distractions in the area – but there is something a little more beneficial to consider than just this.

The best possible way to capture waterfalls is right after heavy rain.

All of the nearby areas will be filled with water and the pace of the waterfall should be increased – allowing for a lot more opportunities and plenty more life in the image by intensifying the colors in your photograph.

If you find it difficult to wait until the conditions are wet enough, you can do it yourself by throwing some water over the nearby rocks.

This will darken them and allow for the natural light to come out a lot more in your photographs.

One of the best ways to take a waterfall photograph is to look for an interesting shape in the waterfall, such as at the top of the cliff before the water drops.

You may be able to see an intriguing bend or twist in the rocks and get some excellent shots from above.

We should also point out here that while you’re at the peak of the waterfall, you might be able to spot some amazing photograph opportunities on the ground where the water meets the other land areas.

Improve Your Coastal Photography

Yes, we did say that you shouldn’t just focus on coastal photography to get the very best out of your water scenes – but this doesn’t mean you should avoid these scenes altogether.

You just need to find a way to improve your coastal photography.

One of the keys to success when it comes to coastal photography is to discover a convergence of water, the land and the sky. Oftentimes, you will spot unique forms of land like sea caves or arches.

On top of this, you should keep an eye out for things like tide pools, sands, marine life and creeks in the water.

But, one of the most important ways to really capture the beauty of water scenes through the coast is by getting right up close and personal.

This will help you capture the foreground features and anything that is emerging from the water – which is an incredible image!

Don’t forget to plan your coastal photography too. If you’re going to be working in a tidal area, be sure to check the tide times.

Some images are best at low tides, whereas others are best at high tide – so you may wish to return to your location.

Generally speaking, you can find this sort of information online – but if you’re in a highly frequented area, there may be staff nearby to ask at information centers.

The Beauty Of Waves

Some of the most popular images for water scenes are shown by waves hitting objects.

This makes for some glorious foreground imagery – especially when you’re capturing the photograph from a long distance.

This is because streaks and lines from the water’s contact to the object will provide you some awesome opportunities for a great water scene.

Perhaps the best example of this is shown through natural rock formations in deep water in the sea.

Some coastal areas can be fine for this, but if you’re able to get out via boat – you’ll likely get some much better photograph opportunities to really get the beauty of water!

Splashing Water

An incredible way to really capture the beauty of water scenes is through the use of a fast shutter speed on your camera.

When large waves are splashing against objects in the water, or when animals are running through the water, you’ll get some incredibly unique shots.

You’ll notice the droplets of water are flying all over the image, and when you’ve got a frozen still image, nothing quite comes close to the beauty of our world.

Long Exposures Provide Blurred Effects

This is a similar point to the previous one, but it’s very important to note. Moving water generally looks so much better when using long exposures.

Short exposures can be useful, but the water will appear like ice – pretty much frozen!

Indeed, the shutter speed is critical to note here. The longer your shutter speed, the more misty the image will appear.

Of course, what you’re looking to capture is the natural beauty of the water, so be sure to get this balance just right.

Consider Aerial Photography

If it’s possible at all, you should try to think about taking photographs of the water from above.

Perhaps in a helicopter or on top of very high areas. Of course, if you choose to do this, you need to be extremely careful for your safety.

But, if you manage to find a way to conduct this safely, you might be able to capture some glorious photographs – especially in areas where there is a lot of marine life activity or other events.

Know Your Camera

Above all else, to capture the beauty of water scenes, you should be very familiar with your camera and be sure to check for any damage or problems associated with the age of the camera.

It’s worth speaking with an experienced camera specialist before you set out on your journey.

They might be able to provide you with some amazing tips to get the most out of your camera work!

The Bottom Line

And that’s some of the best ways for how you can capture the beauty of water scenes.

We live in a beautiful world and sometimes, trying to really find this to show others can be tricky – but if you follow some of our tips we’ve provided you with above, you should be fine!

Thank you for reading our guide, and good luck with your photography!

Laura McNeill
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