Capturing the Perfect Waterway Photo - Top Tips

Created on 16/11/2013

Do you always see potential for a good photo when you're out and about on the waterways, but never quite manage to capture it? Take a look at our photography tips below.

  1. Camera settings: Make sure your digital camera is set to take high resolution (large) photos to capture as much detail as possible.

  2. Point of interest: Photos tend to be more interesting if they focus on a feature, whether it's a boat, bridge, lock, or a building. Different waterway craft tend to add the most character and colour to a waterway photo.

  3. Direction of boat: If you're taking a photo of a boat, it's much better to feature the front of the boat rather than the rear of the boat. Likewise boats coming towards the camera make better shots than those navigating away from the camera. Similarly, if you were taking a photo of a person, you would be more likely to take a photo of their face rather than their back.

  4. Time of day: The time of day can make a huge difference to the lighting of your photos. The first hour of light after sunrise, and the last hour of light before sunset is known as the 'golden hour'. During these times the sun is lower in the sky, so the lighting is softer and warmer. The long shadows help to pick out details, adding texture and depth to the image. The exact time varies between seasons but there's a handy online golden hour calculator.

  5. Rule of thirds: The guide proposes that when composing a photo, there should be two imaginary lines vertically and two lines horizontally making three columns, three rows, and nine sections in the image. Important compositional elements should be placed along these lines.

  6. Reflections: One of the things that makes photographs of waterways stand out against photographs of other scenery is the interesting reflections and ripple effects created by the water. Take advantage of this.

  7. The colour red: Photos of the waterway environment tend to contain a lot of blues, greens and neutral colours. A splash of red or other contrasting colour can really make a difference to a photo. This is why a brightly coloured boat can make a photo.

  8. Focus: Make sure your camera is focussed properly on the subject. If you're not sure take a few so that you've got some to choose from. Sometimes it's difficult to tell until the photos have been uploaded to a computer, and blurryness can ruin a photo.

  9. Move around: If you're not happy with the composition of your photo, move around and try again. You might want to climb up higher or squat down. Professional photographers will often go to great lengths to get the perfect shot.

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Blog image: Bridge 80, Bennetts Bridge, Shropshire Union Canal by Mark Welton.

Tags: How-to Guides