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Photographing water in the daylight

Travel Forums Travel Photography Photographing water in the daylight

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1. Posted by dpatton (Budding Member 24 posts) 9y

I am new to photography and have been trying to take some photos near water while on a recent trip. The water had a slight amount of motion so I was going to use a longer exposure in order to smooth the water in the photo. I dropped the ISO level to 80 on my camera, used an aperature of f8.0 (as small an opening as my camera allows) but as soon as I dropped below a shutter speed of 1/80 sec the camera was literally blinded by the light coming in. I had been hoping to get an exposure of approximately 3-4 sec. I took the photo with a shutter speed of 1/125sec but it shows the choppiness of the water. Is this possible with the camera or do I need a filter to further limit the light entering the lens.

I am using a new Sony DSC-H5 camera set to 7 Megapixel resolution and whitebalance set to cloudy. The conditions were overcast (picture is in my phot gallery - the fishing boats along the dock)

Any help is greatly appreciated.

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4809 posts) 9y

There's really no way that would ever work with your camera. You need a shutter speed of half a second or less for water to start becoming smooth like that (which also immediately means that you need a tripod), which is a difference of five to six stops over the best you could achieve. The ideal of 4 seconds is an additional three stops away.
A DSLR could get you an aperture that's three or four stops better - but you'd need a neutral density (ND) filter to go the rest of the way.

  • googles* Actually, it looks like your Sony comes with a filter adapter - so I guess theoretically you could just get a very heavy ND filter. I still don't know if there's one of the right size that'll give you enough stops for this shot to have worked though. Better, probably, to simply have waited for fading light at the end of the day (or to have been there really early in the day). Usually there'll be less ripples in the water around those times, too. :)

[ Edit: Edited at Nov 18, 2006 11:18 AM by Sander ]

3. Posted by dpatton (Budding Member 24 posts) 9y

Thanks Sander for the information. I couldn't think of any other way to reduce the light coming in. The timing of thge shot though (early morning) is definately the next thing I will have to try doing differnt. Thanks for the help

4. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 9y

Hi David,

I like adding a polarizer when shooting around water as it gives a nice effect. It will slightly darken the shot too (sure there's better professional terminology for that!) and in my experience allows for a slightly (not anywhere near what you are looking for) longer exposure. I'd recommend waiting for evening or taking at early morning before opting for extra equipment too.

I'll post a couple of pictures I took last week to illustrate why I like the effect around water on sunny days :)

5. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 9y

David, here's a good example of what a polarizer can do on a sunny day :)

6. Posted by Brendan (Respected Member 1824 posts) 9y

Are you just using a polorising filter on the lens or something else?

7. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 9y

Quoting Brendan

Are you just using a polorising filter on the lens or something else?

Polarizing lens only and no effects added later on (of course). Pretty big difference huh?

8. Posted by Brendan (Respected Member 1824 posts) 9y

excuse my "slowness".. but i'm not sure what you mean. the lens has a polarisation built in? or you just screwed on a filter on the end?

9. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 9y

Screwed a filter on the end :)

10. Posted by Brendan (Respected Member 1824 posts) 9y

ah ok, thought so. :p