Three Tips to Blur Water

Water always seems to attract attention in photography…whether it’s an ocean at sunrise, dew on a flower, or waterfalls gushing through a mountain stream, the impact that water can have on our imagery is very powerful.  Harness that power to your own creative ends by recognizing 5 ways to blur it to your advantage:

1.  Slow down! – Your shutter speed is the best way to blur water…taking things down to at least 1/4 of a second, if not longer.

SC Waterfall

2.  Steady as she goes – Use your tripod!  When shooting at slower shutter speeds, it helps immensely to be solidly mounted on a good set of legs.  Without getting into the pros and cons of various features and qualities of various tripods, if you are shooting a 10 second exposure of a beach at sunrise, you need legs!

Palmetto Statue

3.  Control the light – What a lot of people run into when slowing their shutter is an invariably brighter exposure…to combat extra ambient light in the scene use ND filters to prevent those extra rays of light from hitting your sensor.  Polarizers can work too, but they are less effective as they can have some downsides to them including elimination of reflections, casting a specific tone on your entire image, and more.  When in doubt, always use ND filters.

Pier Lit Beach

As always, there’s more than one way to skin a can (or blur water)!  More involve shutter dragging with fill flash, and lots of others.  What ways do you use to blur and control waters’ appearance in your images?  Sound off in the comments with tips and tricks of your own! Happy shooting all, and we’ll see you back here again next time with more photo goodness!

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4 comments for “Three Tips to Blur Water

  1. February 24, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    ND Filters? just heard of it recently. I’m a newbie photographer so i still experiment in shooting water subjects. Photography blogs as this is of great influence to me boosting up my skills in photography.

  2. February 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    It can also be cool to take pictures of water at high shutter speeds. It’s got a completely different effect – one that your friends probably haven’t ever gotten with their point and shoot.

  3. February 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    as well as a filter try controlling the light by using a low iso setting or a narrow apature, iso 100 @ f22 will greatly increase your exposure time.

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