WA­TER

ar­guably the most pho­to­graph­i­cally ver­sa­tile of the five el­e­ments, wa­ter is over­flow­ing with ways you can use it to cre­ate im­ages. still- lifes, por­traits, land­scapes – wa­ter can fea­ture in them all, so take in­spi­ra­tion from our ex­pert guide and your idea

Digital SLR Photography - - Contents - Words: Caro­line Sch­midt & Jor­dan but ters

Make a splash with your im­ages by in­cor­po­rat­ing the most pho­to­genic of the el­e­ments in 12 cre­ative ways

1 A splash of food pho­tog­ra­phy

Straw­ber­ries and cream, fresh cit­rus fruits in wa­ter and beans in a cup of cof­fee are all pop­u­lar sub­jects for high- speed food splashes. They look im­pres­sive but are sur­pris­ingly easy to achieve. For a ba­sic set- up, po­si­tion a bowl of liq­uid in front of a clean background and on top of a sur­face that you don’t mind get­ting wet. If you’ve am­ple am­bi­ent light, you can use a fast shut­ter speed to freeze the splash, but real­is­ti­cally you'll prob­a­bly need an off- cam­era flash or two with wire­less trig­gers, and a re­mote re­lease to fire your cam­era and flashes once you re­lease the item of food. If you're us­ing flash then set your shut­ter speed to match you cam­era's flash sync speed ( usu­ally around 1/ 160sec) as the flash will freeze the ac­tion. Get your tim­ing right and mouth­wa­ter­ing food im­ages await…

Re­flect on land­scapes

You’re lake- side on a glo­ri­ous still day, there’s a dra­matic sky and vivid colours in the land­scape: what’s your go- to com­po­si­tion? Is it to find lead- in lines, such as a jetty or rocky fore­ground interest to lead the eye to the far side of the lake? As well as look­ing at what sur­rounds the lake, try look­ing at what’s in­side of it, too. on a still day you will likely see a mir­ror- like re­flec­tion of the sur­round­ing area on the wa­ter's sur­face, which you can use to bring beau­ti­ful bal­ance to your com­po­si­tion. For con­trol of the re­flec­tion, use a po­lar­is­ing fil­ter to ad­just the sun's glare bounc­ing off the wa­ter's sur­face. To get the best results, align your­self per­pen­dic­u­lar to the sun and ro­tate the po­lariser's ring for the de­sired strength.

Wa­ter sports

Whether it's surf­ing, wake­board­ing, jet skis or some­thing a lit­tle more ex­treme like cliff div­ing, shoot­ing wa­ter sports can de­liver some re­fresh­ingly ex­cit­ing results. But first, you need to de­cide if you want to be in the wa­ter too, or keep nice and dry on a boat or on the shore. If it's the lat­ter that floats your boat, then you'll need to pack a long- range lens in or­der to fill the frame – think 300mm- plus. If you're in­tent on get­ting wet, then you'll need a wa­ter­proof housing for your DSLR to pro­tect it, which can get ex­pen­sive, but the good hous­ings are ex­pen­sive for a rea­son – they keep your kit dry! Al­ter­na­tively you could use a wa­ter­proof ac­tion cam­era, such as one of the Nikon Key mis­sion mod­els, or a sub­mersible com­pact such as the Nikon Coolpix AW130. To freeze the ac­tion, air­borne droplets of wa­ter and all, opt for a fast shut­ter speed in ex­cess of 1/ 1000sec, and use high- speed burst mode and con­tin­u­ous aut­o­fo­cus to track your sub­ject.

Rainy- day por­traits

there's no rea­son the rain should dampen your pho­tog­ra­phy; there are dozens of por­traits you could do in the rain. For in­stance, grab the wellies and an um­brella for a pud­dle splash – opt for a white um­brella to avoid any colour casts on the sub­ject's skin and use a shut­ter speed of around 1/ 250sec or faster to cap­ture the splash in ac­tion. al­ter­na­tively, back­light a por­trait with flash and use a wide aper­ture to turn the dash­ing rain into beau­ti­ful bokeh or keep your sub­ject in­doors and shoot a rainy win­dow por­trait, an­gling your­self and your cam­era to get rid of re­flec­tions. as it's highly likely that you’ll be out­side get­ting wet, and with no as­sis­tant to hold your um­brella, make sure your choice of lens and cam­era are en­vi­ron­men­tally sealed, like the nikon d7200 and d610 ( see page 90 for de­tails), and buy your­self a rain- sleeve just in case.

Droplets

Whether it’s in­sects or blades of grass cov­ered in morn­ing dew, or wa­ter droplets tee­ter­ing on the tips of leaves, petals and feath­ers, they're all at­trac­tive ways to add bokeh, depth and de­tail to your close- up im­ages. You’ll need a macro lens, such as the af- s Mi­cronikkor 105mm f/ 2.8G, or a stan­dard lens with ex­ten­sion tubes if you’re on a bud­get. You’ll need ad­e­quate light so a macro Led or ring flash can be ad­van­ta­geous, oth­er­wise po­si­tion your­self by a win­dow. if out­doors, look for back­light­ing to cre­ate beau­ti­ful bokeh out of sur­round­ing dew­drops and use a re­flec­tor to il­lu­mi­nate the sub­ject matter. Con­trol your aut­o­fo­cus by se­lect­ing sin­gle- point af to pin­point and com­pose a sin­gle droplet as well as use a mid- aper­ture to re­tain depth- of- field. due to their three- di­men­sional shape, droplets need at least f/ 5.6 to be in fo­cus at close range.

Oil and wa­ter

Ap­par­ently oil and wa­ter don’t mix, but we dis­agree. They might be im­mis­ci­ble liq­uids, but when it comes to pho­tog­ra­phy op­po­sites can be quite at­trac­tive. Ide­ally you’ll need a macro lens, such as the AF- S Mi­cro- NIKKOR 60mm f/ 2.8G, but a stan­dard lens such as the AF- S 50mm f/ 1.8 with ex­ten­sion tubes is a good al­ter­na­tive. You’ll need a clear glass dish, wa­ter and some veg­etable oil. If you want to add an in­jec­tion of colour, try plac­ing coloured pa­per un­der the dish and el­e­vat­ing the dish about a foot above to put some dis­tance be­tween the two. You may need to use Live­view or to man­u­ally fo­cus as the im­age will be low in con­trast. A tri­pod with a cen­tre col­umn that can set up in a hor­i­zon­tal po­si­tion can help. For your light­ing, use an of­f­cam­era flash or desk lamp and it’s worth play­ing around with depth- of- field, too, for dif­fer­ent ef­fects. See page 36 for a full tu­to­rial on how to do it.

Ab­stract pud­dle re­flec­tions

Post- rain­fall is the per­fect time for some fun pic­tures. Look for un­even ground, such as dips be­fore a curb, where wa­ter gath­ers and look around for interesting sub­jects that might be re­flected. Land­marks, build­ings, lights and peo­ple all make good sub­jects. A cloudy day is ideal to re­duce glare off the pud­dle’s sur­face, but oth­er­wise avoid shoot­ing when the wa­ter is in di­rect sun­light to cap­ture a blue sky. get low to the ground to split the scene be­tween the re­flec­tion and the sub­ject and bring bal­ance to the com­po­si­tion, or try fill­ing the frame with the re­flec­tion, or in­clud­ing just a lit­tle sug­ges­tion of the ac­tual sub­ject that’s re­flected – three very dif­fer­ent im­ages from one po­ten­tial scene. use a wide- an­gle lens such as the Nikkor AF- S 35mm f/ 1.8g, or Nikkor AF- S 24- 70mm f/ 2.8e to fill the frame, and sin­gle- point AF to fo­cus on the pud­dle's re­flec­tion with a wide aper­ture.

Re­frac­tion

We all know about us­ing re­flec­tions in pho­tog­ra­phy, but what about re­frac­tion? It’s a cu­ri­ous tech­nique that can work with any trans­par­ent spher­i­cal ob­ject – a glass ball, glass of wa­ter or even a tiny wa­ter droplet. Light bends through the sphere, in­vert­ing the im­age be­hind it so, build­ing on our droplets idea ( num­ber 5), but in­stead of look­ing to elim­i­nate re­flec­tions in the wa­ter, place an­other flower be­hind the droplet and cap­ture the im­age within it. A macro lens is es­sen­tial if fo­cus­ing on wa­ter droplets, but a stan­dard lens can be used if you wanted to try plac­ing drops of wa­ter on a sheet of glass above colour­ful sub­jects such as Skit­tles, or us­ing this tech­nique with your high- speed wa­ter- drop pho­tog­ra­phy. You can also cap­ture re­fracted im­ages us­ing just glasses of wa­ter and pieces of coloured pa­per, too!

Long ex­po­sures

Mov­ing wa­ter and shut­ter speeds go hand in hand, and there are count­less ways they can work to­gether for dif­fer­ent ef­fects – a favourite be­ing misty wa­ter. The key is to use a shut­ter speed as slow as your DSLR will al­low be­fore it starts to blow- out the highlights, at which point you’ll have to in­tro­duce a Neu­tral Den­sity fil­ter. De­pend­ing on the speed of the wa­ter’s move­ment and the light lev­els, you may be able to cre­ate the ef­fect us­ing a shut­ter speed of ten to 20 sec­onds but if the am­bi­ent light is too bright, you'll need fil­tra­tion. The Lee Fil­ters Lit­tle Stop­per and Big Stop­per or Hitech Pro Stop ND10 are great for this type of ef­fect as they ex­tend your ex­po­sure by x600 and x1000, re­spec­tively. You’ll need a solid tri­pod, a wide- an­gle lens and a re­mote re­lease for this tech­nique as the slight­est move­ment will blur the im­age. It’s worth not­ing that you’ll need to man­u­ally cal­cu­late your ex­po­sure to dial in us­ing Bulb mode and also com­pose your im­age be­fore ap­ply­ing the ND fil­ter.

Wa­ter­falls

Wispy wa­ter­falls are beau­ti­ful but some­times you want to cap­ture tex­ture too so take time to ex­per­i­ment with ex­po­sures and fil­tra­tion – if you’re in a wood­land you may even find fil­tra­tion isn’t nec­es­sary given the lower light lev­els. De­pend­ing on the speed and den­sity of the fall­ing wa­ter, you may not need to keep the shut­ter speed open for very long. For a gen­tle wa­ter­fall try a shut­ter speed be­tween one and ten sec­onds; 0.5 sec­onds to two sec­onds is enough for wa­ter­falls in heav­ier flow. Opt for a wide- an­gle zoom and have a two- stop ND fil­ter to hand to ex­tend the ex­po­sure, if nec­es­sary. Set your cam­era to man­ual mode and se­lect a small aper­ture for depth- of- field. It’s worth look­ing for fore­ground interest and dif­fer­ent an­gles to shoot from too to strengthen your com­po­si­tion, so take time to walk around the wa­ter­fall in­stead of shoot­ing the ob­vi­ous.

Won­der­ful waves

The power of the ocean is im­mense and some­times this can be di­luted by in­clud­ing sur­round­ing land­scape, so use a tele­zoom in the re­gion of 200mm to 600mm to get a close- up of crash­ing waves as they curl or peak to pro­duce pow­er­ful ab­stract im­ages. A long lens is vi­tal for get­ting some­what par­al­lel to the curls from the shore and a fast lens will let you make the most of the golden hours. You will want to avoid cloudy days as they'll leave the wa­ter void of any colour, so aim for the early morn­ing and evening. Shoot in con­tin­u­ous burst mode as ev­ery wave will be­have dif­fer­ently and you'll im­prove your chances of cap­tur­ing the per­fect mo­ment. Play with shut­ter speeds, too, as the slight­est change has a huge im­pact. Try pan­ning while us­ing a slow shut­ter speed or a fast shut­ter speed to freeze the drama in mid- air be­low brood­ing clouds.

Wildlife on wa­ter

"The way light and colour re­flect off the sur­face of lakes and ponds can make your im­ages look more dy­namic. The key is to get close to the sur­face and no­tice how the re­flec­tions change the lower you drop. When shoot­ing with a tele­photo lens, a large aper­ture such as f/ 2.8 will blur the background and help the sub­ject pop from the frame. For this im­age, I was shoot­ing from a boat on Greece’s Lake Kerkini and I used a Nikon D810 with wide- an­gle lens ( NIKKOR AF- S 18- 35mm f/ 4G) to in­clude the en­vi­ron­ment. I held the cam­era over the edge of the boat and low to the wa­ter with one hand while di­rect­ing a dif­fused off- cam­era flash in the direction of the Dal­ma­tian Pel­i­can with the other. Un­der­ex­po­sure was used to em­pha­sis the dark and moody con­di­tions and the flash helped the pel­i­can pop from the im­age. Had the sur­face been still, we would have had a mir­ror im­age but, in this case, the rip­ples in the wa­ter helped cre­ate interesting pat­terns in the murky wa­ter be­low the bird.”

IM­AGE: JAG cz / Shut Terstock

IM­AGE: JOR­DAN BUT­TERS

IM­AGE: ROSS HODDINOT T

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