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Water Based Shot Ideas

Water Based Shot Ideas - Here are some water based shot ideas and tips for getting great shots.

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Landscape and Travel

'Glencoe Lochan' by Daniel Bell taken with a Nikon D3000

Nikon cameras are very versatile, and as such are able to capture great photos, no matter what shutter speed or aperture you need to get the shot. Now it's getting warmer, what better thing to head out and photograph than water. The sun can create some lovely effects with water of all kinds. Here are some top tips for photographing five different watery subjects with your Nikon equipment.

Rivers: Head out and find your local river. It might be in the middle of nowhere, it might run through the heart of the city, but no matter where it is you'll be able to capture some nice shots of it. If it's quite fast flowing, consider taking a tripod along and have a go at some slow shutter speed shots to make the water smooth and silky. Consider packing an ND filter as you may struggle to reach the shutter speeds you need to create this type of effect without one. 

If it's quite slow flowing, it might be best to go for freezing the water rather than smoothing it out. If it's quite still, perhaps there are some nice reflection shots to be had of trees, buildings etc. lining the river bank. 

Waterfalls: Waterfalls are spectacular forces of nature and when the weather is sunny, you might be able to catch some rainbows appearing in the spray if they're powerful. Take care when you're metering as your camera can be fooled into thinking the scene is too bright so all your shots could come out underexposed. Bracket a stop over and under or fit an ND filter to stop as much light entering the camera.

Capturing waterfalls in all their might is best done with a fast shutter speed, which shouldn't be too much of a problem on bright days. If you want to calm things down a little though, again slow shutter speeds will give falls a silky more flowing effect. The Nikon 1 J3 boasts the world's fastest continuous shooting, which means you can quickly shoot multiple shots and choose the best to keep.

Sea: The sea can be quite a changeable subject so make sure you check tide times and weather conditions carefully before you head out so you know what to expect. If your shots include the horizon, make sure it's straight by using the camera's built in level sensor, or a tripod spirit level.

If you're going for action shots such as surfers, consider a long zoom lens and using sports mode, selecting your focal point to make sure your subject is the main focus. Alternatively, slow shutter speeds can also work well with the sea, especially when there is foreground interest to the shot like a pier or some groins.


Photo taken in Cornwall by Daniel Bell

Fountains: Fountains can look great on sunny days, especially with a backdrop of a grand house or castle. A fast shutter speed will freeze the water in action, which can look great with the reflections and shapes of the drops. It's also ideal for water displays, where the direction and intensity of the water spout can change rapidly.

Fountains can also work well with more abstract shots, try focusing in on just one of the statues or ornaments and taking your shot at just the right moment. It's worth taking a tripod to eliminate any chance of camera shake.

Swimming pools: If you're heading abroad, there's an abundance of opportunities to snap your friends and family having fun in the pool. Just make sure not to get your equipment wet! Kids will find photos of them jumping into the water cool, so why not try using a really fast shutter speed and capture them just as they hit the water to create a stunning splash. 

Nikon make several waterproof cameras including the family friendly S33, ideal to take along for those times you don't want to risk your DSLR getting wet. You can also buy waterproof casings for some Nikon DSLR, for underwater photography.


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