Composition Ideas & Techniques for Water Photography

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Composition of your water photographs can vary from wide landscape shots that are half water and half sky, to close-ups of plants reflected in the water, to action shots of animals or crashing waves that convey water’s energy. Keep your mind and your eyes open to the numerous possibilities that are there for you to find.

Composing your photographs in and around water will often determine whether or not to include clouds if there are any in the sky that day. Excluding a cloudless sky will eliminate a boring element from your photograph and make it better. If the sky does have clouds, including them in your composition will add color and light, particularly if you shoot at sunrise or sunset. You will find shots that look best with a 50/50 split of sky and water, with both elements taking up half the shot. Sometimes, even in the 50/50 shots, you will want to include another element, such as something that is in or on the water, such as a boat, a person, rocks, or trees. For other shots, you will zoom in close and tight on a foreground element, such as marsh grasses, silhouetting them against the sunrise reflecting on the water in the background. The possibilities are there for you to find if you keep an open mind and truly see what is around you.