Photographing Water Scenes

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Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

Water photography can be a reference to several photo styles such as underwater photography, but in this case the reference is to the recording of images of water in its various forms and physical states such as liquid, gaseous, frozen, and in between.

As far as water sources, they are almost everywhere and they are not only fresh water sources, the sea offers ample opportunities too.

Your challenge should be to capture images of a lake while the water is fluid and then frozen during winter. A river while it freely flows and when it's turbid such as right after a torrential downpour. Water in the shape of snow provides one with various interesting images and also when it starts to melt.

A calm ocean can be one image while the next can be of the furious wave action. Take images during the daylight hours and at night when possible. Flowing water; i.e movement, can be represented in photographs by using a slow shutter speed, this has the effect of blurring the moment and creates a sense of "movement" within a static shot.

An easy compositional water project is to photograph the water flow from a garden hose, minus the hose; frame the image right before the tip of the hose and record images of the water as in a shower, a straight stream, a gentle spray. Add "movement" to these shots by trying different speeds of the shutter.

Capture images within a water scene that are low to the ground, the middle ground and high ground. Use close ups and a fast shutter speed to "freeze" the action and show reflections.

Another simple project is to locate a water source where there is a fall, like a waterfall. The waterfall can be a large or a small one. Enclose your camera in a watertight photographic container, get under the fall and record images as the water heads directly your way.

If you come upon a small stream with small falls, building a temporary dam and positioning yourself directly in front and right below where the water will fall can produce really astounding images. This will require the aid of an assistant to release the dam when you are in place to record the images.

You can also try recording double images; the camera half in and half out of the water, with it being in a protective enclosure off course.

Another creative way of photographing water is to use a clear container made from glass which is better or from acrylic which is an acceptable substitute; fill the container with water, add some food coloring of your choice, have an assistant pour some of the water/coloring mixture into the container while you record images from right under it. The pouring of the water will create air bubbles which will momentarily be trapped under the surface.

A variation would be to use clear water and pour paint. Not only will air bubbles form but as the paint mixes with the water it will produce very interesting shapes and patterns worth photographing.

A substitute for paint would be cooking oil, the heavier the better. This project involves photographing water, but you can try different liquids at another time. Illuminate this set up with photo lamps placed close to the container at a 45 degrees angle.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

Being creative and recording images from a new perspective is the key to make this project a success since water images are plentiful.

Don't limit yourself to just photographing water by itself. Add interesting details to the scene to give a sense of location and atmosphere whenever possible. A river scene becomes even more dramatic and interesting if some of the surrounding plant life, landscape and rocks are included within the composition.

For photographing steam it is better if done by positioning a dark to black backdrop as steam is almost translucent and also adding some colored filter to a flash unit will impart some of the color onto the steam. Aim to frame the image of the steam alone and exclude whatever the source of it is, unless the source happens to occur naturally such as from a geyser or a natural hot water spring.

Keep in mind that because water is completely transparent, it may assume/reflect the color of the surrounding surface or container where it is located, thus consider photographing water which is upon a colored surface, or has a colorful surrounding element.

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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez

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Comments 19 comments

Island Tropical profile image

Island Tropical 5 years ago

Question: I want to take the photo of water splash, should I do it under bright light or normal light so the photo will show water splash clearly? Thanks.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Island Tropical: It depends: if in the studio, then use a dark background and a snoot aimed at the splash, remember to keep the camera from getting wet. If in nature, then get in close and use a slow shutter speed to blur the water or a fast shutter to "freeze" the motion. You may need a flash unit depending on the location, time of day and surrounding vegetation.


joekreydt 5 years ago

Some of those pictures are unbelievable. you gave me so many great ideas for pictures! thanks


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

joekreydt: Thank you, I hope they come out good.


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042

Luis, I'm off to Maine next month so water and trees will be shot constantly. I really like shooting snow and ice. In 1977-78 the Ohio River froze over and I got some great black and white shots from that. Folks were actually driving and walking across it. I really need to get that stuff put on a disc instead of just sitting in boxes. Good hub!! Tom


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

justom: Remember to write a hub about your exciting adventure in Maine, but no cows please.


Island Tropical profile image

Island Tropical 5 years ago

Thanks @LuisEGonzalez


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I love your project ideas!


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042

Haaaa! That's funnier than you know Luis. When we went 2 years ago we expected to see all kinds of animals and I especially wanted to see a moose. The whole 10 days, 1 deer and 2 dead porcupine's (and some birds but again not as many as I'd expected). I think a lot more wildlife is in the northern part of the state. Hey they're smart they move to stay away from humans, maybe I'll just stay up there with them :-P


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Thank you to all.


Cloverleaf profile image

Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

Hi Luis, your photography is amazing, I really appreciate learning the different techniques. Check out Dexter Yarborough here on Hubpages and let him know I sent you his way - I think you guys have a lot in common and would enjoy reading about each other's work.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Cloverleaf: Thank you for your nice comments, we do follow each other.


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! I'm dying here Luis!! Sorry the irony is just Amazing:-P


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

These are beautiful. I've never been much of a photographer. I'm passable wit ha digital camera. But with a proper camera that uses real film, I was never very good.


wheelinallover profile image

wheelinallover 5 years ago from Central United States

Luis I took most of the day off again today, I did remember to take the camera. The only running fluid I saw I wasn't about to take a picture of though. I am letting a friends new baby get used to me as she returns to work in a little less than five weeks. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to that. She is the main one who helps with my online work the others are either far away and independent contractors or work "in town". Tonight we were working with video. I have a need for that medium right now so wanted to be up to date on how to use the camera for that medium.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

WHeelinallover: Thanks, hope you finally get to take some great photos


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

FloraBreeRobinson: Thank you, with practice any camera with interchangeable lens can record excellent images


stessily 5 years ago

My favorite photos are of water and of the depths of outer space. So I enjoyed this hub with its lovely images.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

stessily: Thank you

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