The Art of Water

Copy others to learn, but then go your own way. Photography, like in many things, usually means seeing what others have done and are doing and copying them at least a little to understand why they’re doing it and why it works. At some point, though, to continue growing we have to head off in our own direction.

I’ve become fascinated by looking for the artistry in more or less abstract images of water. The most common technique photographers use for images of flowing water is a long shutter speed which gives that soft, “cotton candy” look. While I like that and think it works well in some situations, I wanted to explore the opposite – using faster shutter speeds to freeze the motion.

Depending on the situation – lighting, how much water, how close you can get, background, etc – freezing the motion gets you a whole lot of nothing. Part of the learning process is figuring out which situations work and which don’t, but also how to work in the situation to get good results. For example, it could be by using a different lens or using a flash or reflector to control the lighting.

One type of water photography I really enjoy is detail shots of rivers and brooks. What got me thinking about it were some gorgeous photos of ocean waves. I don’t have a waterproof camera and the waves along the coast here in New England aren’t as spectacular as in other places. We do have plenty of rivers flowing over rocks, though. Why not try getting closeup shots of mini waves?

These photos were taken on two different days at the Sewall’s Falls area north of Concord. I used to live near there and always enjoyed walking the trail along the Merrimack River. I’m still refining the look, learning how to get what I’m envisioning, but I’m getting closer. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

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