Photo Feature: Water
Water. A fairly simple subject to shoot you might think? Or maybe not. There are a number of decisions to make when shooting anything moving, and water is no different…
There are two ways of dealing with moving water: you can either freeze it or you can blur it. And they make for quite different final images…
I love this effect as I like the silky, smooth appearance of the water. It gives it a dreamy, slow-moving quality. To achieve this you need to use a slow shutter speed. Try using a variety of different speeds to see which effect you like best. To get a milky texture on the water you need to set a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds plus (the one below was shot at 0.6 seconds). Don’t forget, you will also need to adjust the ISO and aperture settings to make sure your image is not overexposed as at slow shutter speeds a lot of light is let in. And you will also need to have your camera on a tripod (and preferably a remote shutter release) for long exposure shots or your whole image will be blurred, not just the water! The camera settings for the image below were: ISO 200, f 20, shutter speed 0.6 seconds.
To freeze moving water, you do the opposite to what you did to blur it – you need to use a faster shutter speed to freeze motion. I used a shutter speed of 1/125 for this shot so the fountains were frozen in an arch shape. (Other settings: ISO 100, f8.)
I love the photo below of hover boarders on the lake in Tignes, France. In my opinion, blurring the water in this instance would have taken away the dynamic quality of the boarders flying through the air and ruined the image somewhat, hence I chose to freeze the action by using a fast shutter speed… (settings: ISO 100, f5.6, 1/500)
Refection on water can look great in photographs (or not, depending what the reflection is of and whether it detracts from the purpose of the photo!). The two images below work well, even though they are quite different. Both were taken towards the end of the day but that is where the similarities end. In the first image, there is little detail visible other than the setting sun and its reflection on the water (which is the focal point of the photograph), whereas in the second there is a lot more detail visible. The interest in the second shot is from the reflection of the clouds and the trees in the still water.
The most successful reflection photos are usually taken by very still, calm waters – although you can get some interesting effects with moving water too (obviously the reflection will be distorted).
So which effect do you prefer? Have you used any of these effects before or do you just leave your camera on manual and see what happens? Let me know in the comments…