Capturing Moving Water in Photography

Rivers, waterfalls and gently babbling streams are soothing even in photographs.

We are automatically drawn to the contrast of blue and white waters passing through brilliant green landscapes, gentle fields of yellowing grass, or tumbling through grey and green moss covered boulders and rocks.

How do you capture water in motion?

Photorealistic Images:

If you permit the automatic settings in your camera to record the moving water, chances are it will opt to utilize a fast shutter speed to eliminate blur.

While this gives an accurate depiction of the moving water, it may not create the tone or texture that is desired.

Smooth Water:

By adjusting camera settings manually the appearance of moving water can be made smooth and almost “soft”. This is done by choosing a slow shutter speed.

This may require reliance on a tripod to prevent hand shake and blurriness, but the result will be dramatically different than from an automatic settings. The slower the speed of the shutter the blurrier the passing water becomes giving it the softer and opaque appearance.

Basic Shutter Speeds :

For blurry water it is best to begin with one eighth second setting and work down from there, but true smooth water usually is not available until a shutter is open for a full second or more. Also the lower the ISO on the shot the more likely the image captured is going to be satisfactory.

This is where the smallest aperture and highest f/stop will result in the slowest possible shutter speed for the ISO and lighting conditions.

Remember Distance:

The distance between the camera and the image of water it is capturing changes the effect of shutter speed on the “blur” factor. The closer the camera is to the water the more quickly the blur is captured.

Low lighting may exist within many moving water environments and this too will necessitate slower shutter speeds and even tripods.

Rely on Shutter Priority settings:

Experiment with a few shutter speed settings for moving water, and allow the shutter priority to determine the f-stop and aperture on the image.

Record which results you find the most appealing and visit other bodies of moving water to further experiment.

Don’t Limit Subjects:

remember that water flows to the sea shore in large waves and gentle lapping tides, it flows from lawn sprinklers and regularly spurts and erupts from public fountains, so experiment at many types of locations.

Moving bodies of water never present the same image capture requirement which is why photographing moving water can be such a fun and highly experimental venture.

Many photographers return to the same locations throughout the year to record the variations in plant life, water levels and to learn about photographing in the changing light and seasons.

Source: Digital Photography Tips