Travel Photography: Water

Travel photography is a way for both amateur and professional photographers to document their travels and potentially capture some amazing shots. And, just like the people of the area can tell a story, so can the water in the region. Water photography can show the beauty of the area, but also the tragedy of a region. All a photographer needs for these types of photographs is a good camera, a tripod, some filters, and lenses if they want to experiment with focal points.

Photographing Still Bodies of Water

If a photographer is photographing a still body of water, he should shoot for something in the foreground like a stump or animal. This will add some interest to the photograph.  Or, throw something into the water to make ripples and capture those ripples moving out from where the object was dropped into the water. 

Set the camera on a slower shutter speed or add a polarizing filter to create a softer picture. Shoot for taking pictures in the early morning or late afternoon to capture the colors reflected in the water.  Do not use the flash, as it will reflect off the water.  It could also overexpose the images, especially when capturing sunset pictures.

For more interesting shots, try shooting water scenes in black and white, especially during the winter time.  The black-and-white photos will give more contrast to the snow, ice and water.

Capturing Moving Water

When capturing moving water, a photographer should try to slow down the action. Use a long exposure time, preferably somewhere between two and five seconds. Always use a tripod with these photographs, since there is a high likelihood that the pictures will be blurry.  Also, try using filters like ultraviolet or polarizing to add a dreamy quality to the scene.

For waterfalls, a photographer needs to stop the action. This can be done by setting the camera to the action mode when using auto focus or ramping up the shutter speed in manual mode. They can also try taking pictures in the continuous shooting mode to create interesting action sequences.

Documenting Animals

Animals are a large part of many people's vacation, and they are often found in water shots. Use a telephoto lens if shooting from the banks or shoreline.  Set the camera on the continuous shooting mode since the animals aren't going to be staying in one place for awhile. 

If possible, go canoeing, boating or kayaking to get up-close to the animals. Photographers should protect their cameras with some type of casing or with filters to protect the lenses.

People and Water

How people use the water in their areas is very indicative of how they live. Shoot pictures of people gathering water in baskets, buckets or other methods from water holes. Take pictures of water collection systems on roofs. Water photography is especially effective for showing how an area has changed. For example, in places like Lake Powell or Lake Superior, water levels have dropped. Now, docks that once abutted the water sit on sand. Frame up the contrast between the two.