Chris Burkard is a California-based travel and surf photographer. As a staff photographer for Surfer Magazine, he spends a lot of time taking photos in and around the water. After just a few minutes of looking at Chris’ work, you can tell that his love for the ocean runs deep. Today, Chris shares one of his favorite ways to take photos of water. Be sure to follow him on Instagram to see some incredible shots from all over the world! Thanks for sharing Chris!
Exposing Water by Chris Burkard
Tripods can be cumbersome and tough to lug on trips. Or they can be small and awesome like Joby. I have attached my Joby tripods onto boats in Alaska, atop a military vehicle in Russia, at the base of the waterfalls in Iceland, and used in many places in between. The tripod is great for run and gun shooting when you want to stay light and mobile. One of my favorite applications of the Joby tripods are around water when I am looking to shoot slow shutter speeds.
Shooting around water gives you a lot of creative options. You can freeze the action of the water with a high shutter speed resulting in great detail making every water droplet sharp. Aiming for the opposite, using a shutter speed 1/25 or lower, results in an image that has a milky blurred water trail. To me it’s a bit more dreamlike. It’s also a great way to convey the movement involved in a setting like a waterfall. I’d recommend placing the GorillaPod at a low angle to convey the magnitude of the waterfalls and landscape. I’d also recommend shooting either early in the morning or around sunset for light that isn’t as harsh. This image is taken about a half hour after sunset. I used a wide lens and an exposure of 6 seconds. I also used a lamp to cast some interesting light on the subject.
You can apply this same technique to rivers and the ocean. In this river shot, the long exposure showcases the flow of the water. The river is true to its mood with the mossy rocks still as the water moves around them. I shot this with a wide lens and an aperture of f13 to keep the background in focus as well. This helps to showcase the entire scene rather than just the river. The exposure was 2 seconds.
This image of the shoreline looking out across the ocean is shot at a lower angle, giving a dramatic sense of scale bringing you closer to the water. With long exposures you often can shoot well after the sun goes down. Often times water moving around objects will make for a more interesting image. The exposure was 30 seconds.
On all the shots I try to keep my ISO low, under 200 and adjust my exposure depending on the water movement. Have fun trying your hand at photographing water in your area and on your travels.