7 Clever Ways To Capture Water In Your Photography

mountain reflection in lake
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Landscape is my favorite type of photography for many reasons.

If you want to learn more about landscape photography, check out my tips in this post —> 10 Tips for Beautiful Landscape Photography.

Water makes a great addition to landscape photography by bringing in movement and emotion to a scene.

But water isn’t only for landscape photographers. Just about any genre of photographer can use water to add creativity to their images.

7 Clever Ways To Capture Water In Your Photography

1. Waterfalls

When I think about water in photography, I always think of waterfalls. They are so iconic in landscape photography and they take some practice getting just right.

The thing you want to know about shooting waterfalls is that you want them to be silky smooth in order to get the dreamy effect that is desired.

In order to do this, you need to use a slow shutter speed to slow down the water and make it smooth and flowing.

waterfall
This stock photo shows a creamy waterfall in fall.

Tips for shooting waterfalls:

  • Aim for an exposure between 0.5 and 10 seconds to make the water creamy
  • Use a tripod and a shutter release cable or remote if possible
  • The best times for waterfall shots are at dusk and dawn
  • If you need to shoot a waterfall during the day, using a neutral density filter to cut down on sunlight will make the sky not blow out from the long exposure.
  • You can also use these tips for rivers and streams

2. Reflections

Grabbing a mountain reflection of a large lake can make an iconic landscape photo.

The biggest problem I see with trying to take this type of picture is to get the water still enough to make the reflection.

Let’s go over some tips to make this type of photo second nature for you.

mountain reflection in lake
I took this picture in the mountains Blue Mountains above Blanding, UT.

Tips for shooting reflections:

  • If you shooting a large lake, try to take the photo on a calm day so the wind doesn’t make the water choppy.
  • Use a long exposure to make the reflection clear in the water.
  • If you are taking a symmetrical reflection of a mountain in a lake, the best composition is to have the horizon in the middle of the photo for a mirror image.
  • You don’t have to have a large body of water to make a reflection. Even a small pool or puddle can make a dramatic effect.

For more reflection ideas, check out this post —> 30 Reflection Photography Ideas and Inspiration for Creative Images.

3. Splash

Splash photography can be done as part of a landscape photo (think waves hitting rocks), inside the studio under lights or even a child splashing in the mud (as seen below).

Either way, splash photography creates movement and motion in a photograph that can bring out your creativity.

little girl splashing in puddle
This stock photo shows the curiosity of a child as she splashes in the mud.

Tips for shooting a splash:

  • To catch the splash in motion, you need to use a faster shutter speed.
  • In order to use a faster shutter speed, you will need an adequate amount of light in the photo.
  • To get creative with splash photography, drop an object in the water and catch the movement at the moment of impact.
  • You can also have someone jump in a pool or whip their wet hair to incorporate splash photography in your photos.

4. Underwater

Did you ever try using a waterproof camera as a kid on vacation? I did and it was so fun.

Now, of course, those pictures didn’t turn out super great. It was a cheap camera and an amateur photographer.

Underwater photography is a genre all it’s own and can be very expensive. But the photos you can get are like you are on another planet. So amazing!

jellyfish
I took this jellyfish photo in an aquarium several years ago, but the concept is still the same.

Tips for shooting underwater:

  • You will need to get a camera especially for underwater photography or get a housing for your DSLR that has a light for dark photography.
  • You will also probably need a wet suit and other gear for diving or water activities.
  • I don’t know much about this genre of photography, so check out this post for more information —> Underwater Photography for Beginners.

5. Ice and snow

In the winter time, our water pictures can turn into amazing photos of ice and snow.

Capturing everything from frozen lakes, icicles, snow flakes and snowball fights can add interest to your photos.

frozen water on ground
I noticed the patterns the ice were making in the water, so I took a picture of it.

Tips for shooting ice and snow:

  • Protect your gear from the cold. Keep it near your body or in your bag when you aren’t using it.
  • When shooting snow covered landscapes, make sure your white balance is correct so that your white photos don’t look gray or blue.
  • Use your macro lens to capture individual snow flakes.

6. Drops of water

Drops of water can add more dimension to an otherwise uninteresting subject.

Drops could be perspiration, rain drops or dew. It could be freshly washed produce or a drop in a bucket of water (with ripples).

However you do it, drops of water add some creativity in your photography, which is always a good thing.

dew drops on grass
In this stock photo, a blade of grass might be boring by itself, but with the dew it looks amazing!

Tips for shooting droplets:

  • If you are shooting dripping water or a drop of water into a bucket, you should use fast shutter speed so that the drops don’t run together into a stream of water.
  • You can use the droplets to get a reflection of the subject or its surroundings.
  • Don’t overdo the drops, especially dew drops or rain drops. A little goes a long way.

7. Thru water

Our last type of water shot is when you shoot thru the water to see what is below.

This could be used when you want to see rocks at the bottom of the river, fish in a pond or coins at the bottom of a fountain.

river rocks in water
Seeing the colors and shapes of the rocks thru the water gives the photo an extra dimension in this stock photo.

Tips for shooting thru water:

  • You will need relatively clear water to pull this photo off correctly.
  • Use a polarizing filter on your lens to cut the glare of the water. Otherwise you won’t be able to see what’s beneath.
  • Hold your camera at around 45 degrees below the horizon to cut the reflections on the water for best results.

Isn’t water amazing? There are so many things you can do with it to add dimension and depth to your photos.

I hope this list has gotten your mind rolling as to what you can do with water in your next photo shoot. Using water properly can take your photos to the next level. So get out there and shoot!

What is your favorite way to use water in your photography? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!

man taking a picture with a monopod and DSLR camera

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