Water Photography Techniques For Beginners

If you’re just getting started out with water photography, chances are that you have a bunch of questions that you want answered.

Taking the perfect water image can be super tricky, and there are a whole bunch of things that you need to take into consideration.

Water Photography Techniques For Beginners

If you get these images right, you can create some of the most beautiful and dramatic photographs on your whole roll.

Below, we’ve created a handy guide that will help you on your journey to photographing the perfect water scene.

We give you tips that range from photograph ideas, to finding the right lighting, and some of the different shutter speeds you can choose from.

If you want to learn more about water photography, simply keep reading below, as we take a closer look.

Find The Right Light

The first tip that we’re going to present you with is to find the correct lighting for your photography.

Obviously this will vary depending on the particular image you want to take, but there are a few key tips and tricks we’d like to give.

For example, if you want to capture the surface of the water in all of its reflective beauty, then we’d recommend that you take your image when there’s plenty of natural sunlight emanating downwards.

There is a sweet spot for this kind of image, and it’s usually during sunrise, or at sunset.

If you take it during the day, when the sun is beaming fully, then this could cause an overpowering glare on the surface of the water, detracting from the nuances of your images.

Therefore, choosing a time when the sun is bright enough, but not too overpowering is a great opportunity for taking an amazing water image.

The Motion In The Image

Chances are that if you’re delving into water photography, one of the first things that interested you was the motion that these types of images convey.

In order to get as much motion as possible in your images, you want to make sure that you’ve gone ahead and chosen the right shutter speed.

We would recommend choosing a fast shutter speed, as this can ‘freeze’ the images in its tracks.

This works particularly well if you’re planning on taking photographs of any waves or ripples in the surface of the water.

Bear in mind that the faster the shutter speed, the less light you’ll have pooling into the image.

This means that you might need to adjust your ISO so that you can make sure your images are bright enough.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you want to slow down the motion of the water in your images (see also “How To Capture The Beauty Of Water Scenes“), and give a more calming and peaceful effect, then we’d recommend that you slow down your shutter speed to around 5 seconds to create this kind of image.

Pay Attention To Reflections

Another one of the key tips that we’d like to give you, is to make sure that you’re paying plenty of attention to the reflections in your images.

Sometimes, we can take the most amazing water photography, with the perfect level of exposure, only to find that there’s something in the corner spoiling the image through the reflection (see also “The Best Locations For Water Photography“).

You might even find that you need to adjust yourself in order to capture the perfect image, and this will take some shifting and tweaking as you go along.

Maybe you’ll need to move around so that the sun is at a different angle.

On the other hand, purposeful reflective photography can really be amazing, and we’d recommend that you try to get creative with your image taking.

For example, if you’re taking water photography in an urban setting with lots of light, you could use that light as a direct mirror for your image.

Find The Right Setting

One of the most important aspects of taking the perfect water photography is simply finding the right backdrop.

You can have fun exploring different areas that you think might work well in an image.

There are obvious settings, such as a river in the forest, or a sandy beach, and these will work beautifully as natural backgrounds for your images.

If however, you want to take photographs of images that are reflective, then we’d recommend choosing water that’s more still in nature.

Something like a pond or a lake would work really well for reflective photography.

This is because changes in the weather, such as winds, can disturb the stillness of your shot, and distort the image.

Immerse Yourself

One of the key tips that we’d like to give you in regards to water photography, is to not be afraid of getting your feet wet.

If you want to make the most of the natural settings around you, this might involve you having to climb a couple of rocks, or step into the water itself.

Of course, we recommend exercising caution when doing so, as you don’t want to end up hurting yourself.

Make sure that your camera is insured too, so that if you were to drop it or damage it in any way, you’re still covered.

If you’re not able to immerse yourself as you’d like, and get up close and personal with your shots, then we’d simply recommend using the zoom setting instead, so that you can hone in on different points in your image.

Pay Attention To Your Lines

The final tip that we’d like to give you in regards to water photography is to make sure that your lines are always straight.

Chances are that you’re going to have the horizon glaring down on the water in your pictures, so you want to make sure that you’re taking it straight on.

You essentially want to frame your images so that they’re in line with the rays from the horizon.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, if you want to take the perfect water photographs, you want to make sure that you’re using the right shutter speed.

As well as this, you want to choose a setting that helps to complement your scene, and don’t be afraid to get your feet wet to achieve the perfect shot.

We hope that this article has been helpful, and we wish you all the best on your photography endeavors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best Shutter Speed For Photographing Water?

When people first get started out with water photography, one of the main questions that they want answered is the best shutter speed to use.

If you’re planning on capturing water that’s in motion, then we’d recommend that you choose a shutter speed that’s around 1/250, as this will help you to get all of the details and splashes in the shot.

How Do You Make Water Look Smooth With A Camera?

This is something that we touched upon earlier in our article. How do you make the surface of the water look smoother using your camera?

There are two key types of water photography out there, one of which captures motion, and as a result, requires a faster shutter speed, and the other is still water photography, which requires a low shutter speed.

The latter helps to create an incredibly still, and silky smooth appearance.

Laura McNeill
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