Using Shutter Speed to Photograph Water

Using Shutter Speed to Photograph Water: Regardless of how swiftly the body of water is moving, the motion can either be frozen or shown as a calm progression, often described as a milky blur. At a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second, water can be frozen. This is great to do this when trying to photograph waves crashing against a rocky coast. However, as you increase the time of the shutter (for example 1/60, 1/30, or 1/15 of a second) you tend to lose definition in the water without the ultimate desired effect. Once you are below 1/8 of a second on the shutter, you can achieve the calm blurring of water. The effectiveness of this practice only increases with longer times.

To photograph an image and freeze water, you can generally meter and shoot. Choose the corresponding aperture to allow a shutter speed at 1/125 of a second or greater. But when photographing water for a blurred effect, often the metered light will not allow us to shoot an exposure longer than 1/4 a second. The best suggestion to remedy the situation is through a circular polarizing filter. Most of these filters can remove at least two stops of light. (That means if the scene called for F22 at 1/15 of a second, adding a polarizing filter to the lens allows the shot to be taken at 1/4 a second.)

Water can often act as a leading line for our eyes. Use it as an element to take a viewer through a photograph from the foreground to the background. Using water such as this can help create simple, clean compositions that are pleasing to the eye.

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