by Sara Coffman

Water photo effect

Water photo effect

I wanted to capture the mistiness of this stream that I came across on a hike with my daughter. I stood in the edge of the stream and shot at an angle up the stream.

There's two things that strike me about Sara's photo - the first is the water photo effect (the water has a hint of mistiness), and the other is the vignette.

And if you don't know what I mean by those, let me explain...

The moving water - this is a great water photo effect, and it doesn't need to be limited to a stream.

Have you ever seen photos of beaches where the water appears like mist? Or a waterfall where the water seems to be replaced by mist?

They, and Sara's photo, were all taken in the same way, and it's quite easy to do.

Here's how to create a water photo effect in your photos:

  • First, find some moving water!
  • Set your camera up on a solid surface (a tripod would be ideal, but a rock, a bag, anything reasonably solid will work)
  • Set the camera to manual, and set a long shutter speed - say, 10 seconds to start with (you'll need a small aperture to make sure the image isn't overexposed. Read more about understanding exposure)
  • The set the self timer to make sure the camera isn't moved when you press the shutter.
  • Press the shutter, wait for the self timer to kick in, then stand back while the exposure happens.

How does this work? Well, it's a trick photography technique, a bit like painting with light (light trails). What happens is that, while the shutter is open, anything in the photo that is stationary comes out in sharp focus, anything that moves (like the water) comes out as a blur.

So, back to Sara's photo, the water moves, so comes out blurred like a mist, but everything else looks normal because it was stationary when the shutter was open.

Which only leaves the vignette...

If you don't know what a vignette is, it's basically the dark edges on a photo. They can be added deliberately, or, in Sara's photo, I'm guessing, it was caused by the aperture being so small, in order to cut out the light, so she could have the shutter open a long time.

The dark edges can draw the viewer into the photo, and it can create a slight 'dark and moody' atmosphere.

All in all, lovely photo! And it gives me an opportunity to talk about water photo effects too.

Thanks for the submission,


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