'Silky Water Technique'

One of my favorite things to photograph is water. Recently, because I have been able to travel more, I have had the opportunity to photograph and expand my skills on this tricky subject. My go-to technique for flowing water is what is known as the 'silky water' technique. It gives you that movement and etherial quality to water. Below is a list of what you need to make this happen:

  1. A camera - obviously - but one that you can control the settings manually
  2. A tripod
  3. Neutral Density filter 
  4. Polarizing filter (optional) 
This is my favorite way to photograph waterfalls.

This is my favorite way to photograph waterfalls.

This is a technique that is best used in your cameras manual setting (M on the camera) but you can get away using the Shutter Priority setting (TV setting). To get started, first find the spot you want to photograph and set the camera securely onto your tripod. After you have everything framed to your liking, you will need to set your camera's shutter speed for a long-exposure. Each situation is different depending on the amount of water, the speed it's moving and direction and intensity of the light. I usually start with a β€˜one’ second shutter speed and work from there. Then, it's just a matter of trial and error to see how much or how little you want this effect.

Now, to give a brief explanation of the filters I listed above. First is the neutral density filter. Most of the time, to get your shutter speed slow enough for this to work, you need to reduce the amount of light your camera picks up - which is what this filter helps with. The Polarizing filter is something optional, which I use on a case by case basis. What it does is help reduce glare and reflections in the water that can sometimes be distracting. 

I hope this very brief explanation helps you. Now get out there and go shoot like a pro! If you have any questions or want further explanations, please leave a comment and I would love to answer!

Fun tip! I almost always put my camera on a two-second timer. Just to make sure the tripod is absolutely still.

Fun tip! I almost always put my camera on a two-second timer. Just to make sure the tripod is absolutely still.

An example of what using a polarizing filter can do. It reduced the reflections to better see the rocks under the water.

An example of what using a polarizing filter can do. It reduced the reflections to better see the rocks under the water.