Water photography: blur movement like a pro for a classic effect
Light (or rather the lack of it) is the main reason that you see many pictures of water taken using long shutter speeds.
All of this means that using a low ISO setting for the best quality and a small aperture for maximum depth of field means that using long shutter speeds is the only answer.
So, the blurring effect on the water is simply a by-product of the lighting conditions. This necessity for long shutter speeds has produced a whole photographic style though, with many photographers now using Neutral Density filters to achieve extremely long shutter speeds in bright light.
The amount of blur you will get depends on three main factors – how fast the water is moving, how much of the frame the water takes up and the shutter speed that you choose.
The speed of the water is out of your control, so you need to discover how your choice of viewpoint or lens and shutter speed will affect the appearance of the water in your image.
The faster the movement of the water, the shorter the shutter speed you will need to produce a super-smooth surface. For a calm sea you’ll need to use a shutter speed of several seconds for a similar effect.
The smaller the water is in the frame, the less obvious the movement will be, so you’ll need longer shutter speeds to achieve the same amount of blur than if it takes up more space in the frame.
To completely blur the whole surface of the sea you’ll need to use shutter speeds of 20 seconds or more, which can be difficult to achieve in most lighting conditions. The answer is to use a strong 10-stop Neutral Density filter, such as the Lee Big Stopper.
PAGE 1: Water photography tips for freezing movement
PAGE 4: Blur movement like a pro for classic effect
PAGE 6: How to photograph reflections like a pro
PAGE 9: How to remove surface glare from your water photography
PAGE 10: Get creative with the fine details