Let’s face it. We all consider ourselves to be great landscape photographers when we photograph mountains, forests, and cliffs to create the picture perfect landscape but the real problem rises when a river comes along and complicates things. 8 out of 10 of us (I may be wildly exaggerating the statistics here) take the blurriest pictures when it comes to gushing waterbodies that just wouldn’t stay still. Here are some tips that can help, though, so all hope isn’t lost.
Avoid the sky
It is very likely that if you have both the river and the sky in your frame, the sky can very potentially outshine the main subject of your picture, which is why, at a beginner level, it is better to eliminate huge expanses of the sky from your frame. However, if you come across a background with mountains and a river flowing around then it would be impossible to eliminate the sky, so like, choose the items in your frame intelligently in a manner that lets your picture speak about its subject itself.
Involve the sky
Not bipolar, promise. In landscapes where you absolutely cannot avoid the sky and the sky has to be involved to capture the full beauty of the gushing water body, it is best to use a polarizing filter. A polarizing filter softens the bright spots reflected on the water body by the sun rays on a sunny day. Of course, if it’s a cloudy day then you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
You know the sort of pictures which seem like the place is out of a storybook with an overcast day and clouds distributing sun rays evenly on the surface of the river? You can also utilize such gloomy weather to your advantage. Experiment with your camera when the skies are gloomy and the water bodies have that soft hazy hue on them. Doing so, no harsh reflections are created that might ruin your picture but rather, soft touches and a soothing effect is created upon the water body. Casually dropping this picture below for emphasis..
Source: Gibb Wilkins Photography, Flickr.
Various shutter speeds
Water is all about kinetic energy and movement as it is always in momentum (Yes, I remember 8 Grade Science). To capture a blurry image of the water flowing around is not very impressive, although in some cases, it is the blur that adds all the magic. But these are very rare cases. The real magic is when a photographer can freeze water in his/her pictures while still managing to capture its movement. By using faster shutter speeds and capturing the water droplets and waves mid-air you get to create an enchanted image that leaves a lasting impact upon the viewer.
Source: ArtPropelled, Tumblr
Wading into the river
Rivers create a different story with every picture. By capturing it from its bank you seize its beauty from an outsider’s perspective, so, to be different, you must a tell a unique story by wading into the river whenever such safe opportunities arise (please don’t jump into Kunhar or Neelam, we can’t deal with the bad press), and, take a shot from such an angle where you get to captivate the never ending journey of the river. Also, what a fancy bath would that be?