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Water Photography Tips


MARK ROSENGARTEN OFFERS BEAUTIFUL IMAGES ACCOMPANIED BY EXCELLENT PHOTO TIPS AND TECHNICAL INSIGHTS As the sun set, a long exposure from the dock while standing in the water: From the Gomez Mill, a 1/2 second exposure to show more detail in the spray: We did get about ten minutes of insane color on the horizon about 20 minutes after sunset: The Gomez Mill: A 2-minute exposure to smooth out the water and sky, done in Bulb mode: Using snow as the leading line into the sunset: Funneled along the inlet: It was wonderful meeting you all and I hope you all got a lot out of it!  Hope to see you again and looking forward to seeing your work here!! Mark Rosengarten

Even In Poor Lighting Conditions, Always Try. Pixels Are Free As They Say!

Even in poor lighting conditions, always try. Pixels are free as they say! With Landscape photographer, Greg Miller, Nana Greller was wandering beneath a thick canopy of trees amidst the soft light behind West Point Foundry, Preserve in Cold Springs, NY. It was a rainy Sunday, kind of low light that seemed to show no real promise, wondering of the possibilities for any photo worth keeping. Greg disagreed in regard to the potential and Nana came away with this lovely image, which is actually a fairly anemic waterfall, at least on that day, maybe not so piddly every day. The leaves frame the main subject nicely and the slow shutter speed priority renders a haunting version of the cascading water. Good job Nana.

The Morning Light

Rick Gerrity, DPA Instructor in NYC and NJ, adding a splash of drama of this man on a horse. The morning light brought it home. 1. Time-Morning Light 2. Place of photo – Costa Rica 3. Name of Photographer and which Digital Photo Academy teacher is in-Rick Gerrity Digital Photo Academy instructor in NYC/NJ 4. f/stop-f 5.6 5. Shutter Speed-1/1600th sec 6.Back story- This image was made while leading a workshop with my business partner DPA Instructor, in Atlanta, Rob Knight in Costa Rica concentrating on freezing motion. 7. Lens- 35-100mm on a Panasonic Lumix GH4 8. How one might succeed with a version of the image if all they had was a cell phone- With a cell phone one may follow subject while pressing the shutter button creating a blurred background. A cell phone may or may not freeze the motion. Panning will ensure a sharp subject. 9. Photographer’s Strategy- Teaching the importance of lighting, being patient and getting the shot.. Composition regarding the rule of thirds..

Tip on Photographing the Hudson River

That photo was taken during the Sunday workshop and Long Dock Park. It was just a grab shot since I rarely shoot during a workshop. 24mm on full frame Nikon D810 camera, 0.6 second exposure at F18. Shutter speed was important to render the water texture just right, so shutter speed of 0.6 seconds was chosen, then F18 was chosen to render a good exposure. Exposure was intentionally 1 stop less than the meter reading. The camera meter wants to render the scene a middle gray, but at this time of day, the scene is darker than middle gray. Using the exposure meter’s setting would have caused the photo to be too bright. Story 1: The chap who sails this boat swims to and from it from shore. Note that the water temperature on April is still quite chilly. Story 2: Most photographers go to Long Dock Park at low tide to shoot the pilings in the river that are visible at low tide. This beautiful view south towards the Hudson Highlands near high tide is rarely photographed.  

Intentionally Underexpose

© John Bentham By intentionally underexposing this photograph I have let the water go very dark, even black in some places. This can be very compelling and mysterious in a photo, especially in dramatic B&W shots. Water as a subject is so beautiful and interesting you often don’t need much else in the frame to make a nice photo. Just the water and a few other elements, in this case the lilies stretching out towards the camera are enough.

Keep Your Horizon Straight

© John Bentham Part of the success of this photo was being in the right place at the correct time. When shooting landscapes and seascapes there is often a optimal time of day to photograph any scene. Unfortunately it is difficult to find that time of day, and depending on the weather. and season that optimal time changes daily. I was riding on a ferry just as we passed this lighthouse, I had my camera in my hand ran out on deck and shot 3 frames then we cruised past. The sky cooperated by giving me a few steaks of cloud to break up an otherwise gray plain sky. One frame was good, but that’s all you need. When shooting seascapes keep your horizon straight, this gives viewers a visual reference point and adds a layer of depth to your photo. The general rule with horizons is they should be straight or tilted at a somewhat extreme angle otherwise it looks like a mistake.

Power up with a Polarizing Filter

 © John Bentham When shooting outside in daylight a Polarizing filter is very helpful. This is especially so whenever shooting in and around bodies of water. A polarizing filter reduces or eliminates reflections on the surface of the water allowing you to see into the water itself, adding depth and rich deep colors. The contrasting elements of this photo, the bright aqua water and the dark skinned girl are what make this a striking image. These same elements make this a tricky shot.The exposure meter in your camera will be fooled by the contrast and bright areas. To get the correct exposure you should take a test shot or two and adjust your exposure using the +/- compensation feature to get the balance right between the water and the swimmer.

Simplify the Elements

© John Bentham Often a simple photograph is more interesting than a busy one. By minimizing and reducing a photograph down to its basic elements you are refining the message. By selective cropping I have refined this photo to 4 things, woman, dock, water and reflection (trees). On backlit shots like this its important to get the exposure right, this sometimes takes a little experimentation.

Composition First

This Sea Lion photo was shot at the Central Park Zoo. The trick here is to frame your shot before the Sea Lion swims into frame (the photo was framed in camera, not cropped). You predetermine where you want the edges of your frame. I positioned the camera to take advantage of the nice V shapes at the top and bottom of frame. Choosing a downward angle also removed distracting elements from the background, like spectators and buildings thus making a cleaner shot and keeping the viewers attention on the Sea Lion. Using your camera’s S or TV setting (Shutter Priority, Time Value) you predetermine your exposure settings. I chose a shutter speed that gave me a little bit of blur (1/60th) to accentuate the action, but not so slow that the Sea Lion appears as an indeterminate blur in the water. I also set up the the flash to fire, brightening up the Sea Lion in the water (set camera to Forced Flash On, as opposed to Auto). Because the glass angles away from camera I didn’t have to worry about flash reflecting back into camera. Then you simply wait until the Sea Lion swims into the shot. This may take a couple of attempts until the the animal is in the right position. Be patient.

Create Whimsy with your Shutter Speed

© John Bentham The relatively slow shutter speed here (1/60th) blurs the swimmer jumping into the water adding action to the photo. By selectivly cropping objects in the photo a visual frame is created, the dock, horizon and figure on the left all create a visual border, keeping your eye in the photo and leading you back to the center of frame. The sparkles and ripples on the water are important and indicative of shooting on water. They, along with the playing children, provide the mysterious yet whimsical feel of this shot.

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