Tips for Photographing WATER

In the summer our family spends a lot of time in or around water.  I have a few examples of fun effects you try with your camera at pools, the lake, the ocean and waterfalls.  With just a few adjustments with the settings on your camera you can change the look of the water in your photo.

Let’s start with pools…


Grant taking a leap into the pool and I had my camera ready to freeze the action.


I had my camera set on a fast shutter speed 1/2000 of a second.


Notice the individual drops of water in these photos and this is possible to do when you have your camera set to open and the close the shutter very quickly.  My settings for the above photos are 1/2000 second at f 3.5 ISO 200.

In these photos I had my shutter speed set quite a bit slower and you can see how the look of the water changes.  You no longer see the individual drops, instead the water looks like a steady stream.  This is achieved by changing your shutter speed to a slower setting which holds the shutter open longer.  My settings in these photos are 1/15 second at f22 ISO 100.  I didn’t use a tripod here, but that would definitely enhance your photos.

At the Lake…


Riding in the tube is always a favourite thing to do at the lake.  I love when we pull the tube with the boat rather than the Sea-doo because I am able to capture fun photos.  The photos are not always the sharpest as the boat is moving as well.  In the above photo I used a fast shutter speed which froze the movement of the tube and the water.  My settings were 1/1000 sec at f5.6 ISO 160.


In this photo I changed my settings to 1/15 sec at f36 ISO 100 and the water changes drastically.  You lose the detail in the water, but what you gain is a sense of movement in the photo and you can certainly tell that the tube was moving FAST!

At the ocean…


Playing with my camera at the ocean is always fun for me and it is a time to be creative with your camera. In the above photo the waves are sharp when they hit the shore.  My settings for this photo are 1/125 sec at f4.5 ISO 100.


If you are going for a softer look you should keep your shutter open a bit longer.  My settings here are 1/4 sec at f22 ISO 100.  I know a 1/4 second seems like a short amount of time, but in camera time it is relatively long.  A tripod is recommended for long shutter speeds such as this.


Settings 1/4 sec at f22 ISO 100


The shutter speed is double the time in this photo and you can definitely see the difference in the details. Settings:  1/2 sec at f22 ISO 200

At the waterfalls…

When visiting waterfalls it is fun to experiment with your shutter speed to freeze the falls….
or blur them.

I am sure you have noticed a commonality with all of these photos.  Increase the time the shutter is open and your water will soften and lose details.  Also, when you increase the time the shutter is open you need to make your aperture smaller which means a larger number. (small opening, large numer/large opening , small number).  The reason for this is there is more light entering the camera when the shutter is open longer so you need to decrease the size of the opening to get the correct exposure.

Get creative and have fun!


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