Photographing Rocks in Rivers and Streams
There are countless photographic projects to keep any photography enthusiast busy for quite a long time. Creativity and artistry are definitively a big part of any photography project as well as being prepared for any eventuality.
There are some who believe that there are shots that as part of nature and of our daily experiences should just be photographed and that setting up a photo shoot and arranging the subjects should not be done.
These photographers are mostly those that adhere to the purist photography movement. However since photography is an art this in itself allows one to use some artistic freedom or license as it is mostly called.
This project; a rock in the stream is one such project. It can be done with subjects found in the natural environment or can be set up in a studio.
Very simply put, you should look for rocks that are in a body of flowing water. Try to seek out rocks that are by themselves and on which the water swirls around. Aim to encompass only the rock and the water that flows around it and the swirls and shapes that this creates.
This scene shows or invokes a sense of peacefulness, beauty ,the wisdom of nature and the purity of the elements. Yet with all of this the entire scene tends to be rather monochromatic, adding a well placed prop can enhance the scene, especially if this pro is a colorful one. Try placing a colorful fall foliage leave on to of the rock, a red flower or even some petals. This gives the scene a color anchor; it guides the eye of the viewer towards that particular color and thus leads them to explore the rest of the image.
Now lets suppose for a moment that you are unable to find a suitable specimen to photograph because there are no streams or rivers where you happen to live,here is where your imagination and handy person skills come into play.
By building a rectangle shaped box, lining with with river rocks, placing suitable smooth rock in the middle that is raised above the water level, running a hose from one end, you can then recreate the scene as it would be found in nature. Just make sure to prop one end higher than the other so that the water flows freely in one direction. Play with the set up until you get the right scene combination.
Crop the shot enough so that no part of the structure shows and use enough smaller rocks to hide the base. Also essential is to use a large aperture that will trow elements that fall outside of the main focus point into blurs or out of focus. This helps in hiding the construction material and anything else that appears man made.
If you feel the artist in you is trying to take over, then adding small amounts of food coloring to the water as it flows from its source will lend the scene a slight color hue which can make the scene more interesting. However, this has to be done carefully otherwise it can appear as too "fake" and unrealistic. Just experiment with various techniques and preferably have someone assist you.
One more variation is to use various shutter speeds. The slower the speed the more movement of the water that will be recorded, but this will show up on the image as a "whitish" cloudy and haze looking element. Keep in mind hat this effect surround the scene with an almost magical feeling and invokes a sense of romanticism too.
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© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez