Photographing water can be as complicated or as straightforward as you like, but it’s better that you have the knowledge to choose between the methods.
Photographing moving water is another right of passage for photographers. Despite being a photographer for well over a decade, it’s still a brand of landscape photography that I really enjoy, and it has a low barrier of entry. All you really need is somewhere with moving water, a camera that can control shutter speed, and a tripod; even modern mobile phones can use these techniques now.
When I photograph water, I tend to go one of three ways. The first is to completely freeze the moment with fast shutter speeds. This is typically used to capture great waves with lots of detail. The second is to smooth everything out with a slow shutter speed that turns moving water milky and blurry, great for waterfalls and fast flowing rivers. The third — perhaps the least common — is somewhere in between the two. When photographing rough seas, I like to capture the movement with some blur, but I also want detail. A middling shutter speed tends to capture most of the scene perfectly clear, but the crashing of the waves with some blurred movement, which gives a sense of chaos.
What is your preferred approach to photographing moving water?