Rick Hobbs Photography

Wildlife/Nature/Outdoor Photography

Photo Tips

Photographing Water

Water is a subject that can take on many forms and can successfully be photographed in several different ways.

Crabtree Falls - Virginia

One of the most popular ways to photograph water is in the form of a waterfall. Since they come in all shapes and sizes one of the most important things is to find a waterfall with character. I prefer to photograph waterfalls on an overcast day so I can use a slower shutter speed which in turn gives the water that milky look. Since you can not see the final image when looking through the viewfinder I always bracket my shutter speeds. I start at 1/8 of a second and go down to a least 1 second or more, most of the time I prefer the results between 1/2 to a full second. Of course, a tripod is essential when shooting at slower shutter speeds and a cable release can be a good friend.

Mountain Stream - Banff National Park, Canada

When photographing streams and rivers I use the same principles as with waterfalls. If there is a little too much light to achieve the longer shutter speeds try using a polarizing filter or a neutral density filter to cut back on some of the light. When working with streams, I try to include something interesting, such as rocks, in or near the stream.

Herbert Lake - Banff National Park, Canada

Lakes with reflections are also very popular subjects. For the best results I get out early before the wind comes up and disrupts the reflection. When shooting scenics I usually go with a wide-angle lens and go for maximum depth-of-field.

Autumn color reflecting in a Minnesota Lake

If the wind comes up, you can include the ripples into the composition for a different type of look. If you want the ripples to be sharp go for a faster shutter speed and if you prefer more of a blended artsy look you may want to choose a slower shutter speed. I would personally recommend trying both methods if you have the time and opportunity.

Mink along a Minnesota river

I often include colorful water into my compositions when I get the chance. This is a subtle way to make your images have a greater impact. I usually use a warming filter to bring out a little extra color.

Fog in Kootenay National Park, Canada

Another popular way to include water in your images is in the form of fog. Fog almost always adds interest or mood to an image.

Bison covered in frost - Yellowstone N.P.

You can often be rewarded for going out in pursuit of photographs on very cold mornings. If you are lucky enough to get frost it can dramatically enhance an otherwise regular image.

1st snow of the season - Lake Moraine, Banff National Park, Canada

Working with a fresh snowfall can be very rewarding as I find it again adds interest, especially the first snow of the season. In mid-season a fresh coat of snow cleans things up and can add greatly to the final image. Occasionally, you can get a snow-storm with a lot of moisture in it and the snow accumulates on almost everything. I also enjoy shooting wildlife images during a snowstorm for a change of pace.

Cougar standing on blue ice along a river - Minnesota

Of course, frozen water in the form of ice can be used to enhance your compositions. Ice can be found as frozen waterfalls, freezing rain that covers everything, or simply along the edge of a pond, lake or river.

The opportunities are endless if you use your imagination and try to include water in your images or even make it the main subject.


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