4 Tips for Shooting Photos Near Water

Water2 If you’re an out­doors-ori­ent­ed per­son, odds are you’ll be drawn to water. But water has some char­ac­ter­is­tics to it that make it very dif­fi­cult to cap­ture on film. But if you fol­low these tips, you’ll come away with some epic shots that can help show peo­ple back home just what an awe­some life you live.

These tips are based on the assump­tion that you have at least some con­trol over your cam­era set­tings. Some of the tips relate to SLR cam­eras only, but for the most part you point-and-shoot cam­era own­ers will also find this arti­cle helpful.

1. Clouds can be your friend
Every­one loves shots of a blue­bird sky, but this can make for some tricky shoot­ing con­di­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the mid­dle of the day. Depend­ing on what you are shoot­ing, a cloudy day can actu­al­ly be ben­e­fi­cial for not hav­ing such extreme light and dark con­di­tions. This is espe­cial­ly true when you have low-light con­di­tions that you want to show as well as the water — for exam­ple, a lake/pond with­in a forest.

2. Get a Polar­iz­er Fil­ter
Most peo­ple have like­ly heard of polar­ized sun­glass­es, but not many peo­ple know that they came from a cam­era fil­ter made by the fine folks at Polaroid. This fil­ter blocks out unwant­ed glare, allow­ing you to see through the water that can high­light the world beneath the sur­face. If you do not have an SLR, you can eas­i­ly polar­ize your shot by plac­ing your polar­ized sun­glass­es in front of your point-and-shoot lens. Just make sure that your par­tic­u­lar shades do not dis­tort the image — but you will be sur­prised just how well the right shot works.

Water33. Under­ex­pose
If water is only par­tial­ly in the frame, your cam­er­a’s meter might not real­ize it’s there, which can lead to an over-exposed shot with too many high­lights mak­ing the water look white. If this hap­pens, try man­u­al­ly under­ex­pos­ing the shot. Most cam­eras have a plus/minus but­ton for this, oth­er­wise con­sult your man­u­al for how to do it — all but the most basic cam­eras will have this capa­bil­i­ty. If the image looks dark upon view­ing, keep in mind that even basic pho­to edit­ing soft­ware will allow you to bright­en the image. This is espe­cial­ly true for RAW files, and if your cam­era shoots in this for­mat it is well worth learn­ing how to edit them — it will dra­mat­i­cal­ly open up your pho­tog­ra­phy world for the better.

4. Shut­ter Speed
Since water is so dynam­ic, play­ing with the shut­ter speed can make for some inter­est­ing cre­ative shots. Most cam­eras have a shut­ter-pri­or­i­ty set­ting (usu­al­ly labeled “TV”). Try slow shots for that dreamy, whispy look. Or try the oth­er end of the spec­trum and get an ultra-fast shut­ter speed for a cool effect, espe­cial­ly when the water is splash­ing or mov­ing fast. Use your per­son­al cre­ativ­i­ty to get a unique shot.

Above all else, remem­ber to have fun! Hope­ful­ly these tips will help you take bet­ter pho­tos near water. Any oth­er ques­tions? Just ask!