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Photographing water features

Photographing water features - Water features and fountains are all over towns you just have to get out there and find them.

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Landscape and Travel

Water features and fountains, particularly the type that shoot spurts of water out of the ground and are a magnet for children, decorate gardens and entrances to train stations and other buildings in cities. These water displays my not be as impressive as the Bellagio Fountains but they'll still give you plenty of photographic opportunities either in the day or later in the evening after the crowds have gone.


Your zoom lens will be fine for your city jaunt searching for fountains and you may want to take your tripod along if you want to play with slow shutter speeds or head out when the sun begins to set.

Fountains attract children like bees to honey so even though the water feature may be in a public place be careful when you're taking photographs if children are there because as you know, parents have become overly suspicious of people with cameras.

Generally, your aperture and shutter speeds will vary depending on the light you have and the speed the fountains moving at. However, if you want to turn the dancing water spurts into a smooth flow slow your shutter speed down. You'll need a tripod to help prevent camera shake and watch out for people walking through the scene as their movement could be blurred through it. Try speeding the shutter speeds up to freeze the water too as this works extremely well with shots of fountains.

Your feet were made to move so use them. Fountains, particularly those which have a timed sequence, will have many, many angles to shoot from. Take Sheffield's Peace Gardens for example, You can stand right on the edge and photograph the streams, fountains and city buildings in the background or get in close and just focus on the shoots of water coming out of the ground. Just watch your equipment if you're working close as water and electronics don't mix. If you do want to focus on the fountains try using a big aperture to throw the background out of focus so the water drops are your main feature.

Close up abstract shots can work well on modern water features which have metal and glass running through them. Try filling the frame with the cascade of water to show the patterns the ripples create as it flows over the sculpture. A lot of these have lights either in or around the water which make them perfect subjects after the sun's gone down too. Just keep an eye on your white balance as different lights can have different colour casts and make sure you have your tripod for your longer exposures. You may find you have a problem with flare from the street lights but this isn't necessarily a bad thing as overexposed street lamps, particularly if it's a damp night, can look really good. Don't overlook damp streets in the daytime either as puddles, created by rain or the fountains, will reflect the fountains adding another dimension to your photographs.

You've read the article, now go take some fantastic images. You can then upload the pictures, plus any advice and suggestions you have into the dedicated Photo Month forum for everyone at ePHOTOzine to enjoy.

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