I like to photograph water, it is fun to work with creatively. The reflective quality of still water can be really beautiful, especially at the edges of the day. Moving water is also fun to work with, flowing water can create interesting textures and patterns to photograph and I love the look of moving water photographed with a slow shutter speed.
Personally, I also find being around water to be peaceful and relaxing. I enjoy wandering around the shoreline of a lake or sitting by the side of stream. Those feelings of relaxation and peacefulness are important to me to try and express in a photograph.
There are a couple of times of year I seem to be drawn to photographing water more than others. One of those is late winter. At this time of year, the landscape is showing the stress of the previous season and I’m ready for a change in color, vegetation, etc. and I’m ready for some color to come back in to the world. The light at sunrise and sunset reflected over a body of water can provide some wonderful bursts of color as shown in the two photos above. These photos were made this winter at the River Pond area of Tuttle Creek lake and were made 13 minutes apart on the same evening. You can see the sunset color just starting to develop in the first photo and by the time I made the second photo, the sky had exploded with red. I like the reflections of the sky in both photos.
The short days in winter also make it harder to get out with my camera, especially during the week. Since I live only a few minutes away from a lake, the shoreline can be my go-to location when I need a quick getaway. The lake also tends to not be very busy in the winter, so I often have the shoreline to myself. It can be very peaceful out there despite the cold (when we have cold) with just the sounds of the water, or in some cases, the sounds the ice makes as it moves around. I also think it’s peaceful to listen to the geese as they come and go at the end of the day. The photo above was also made at the River Pond area at Tuttle at sunset, but looking away from sunset. I was glad to have the geese fly by where I could compose a photo of them in the scene since I enjoy seeing them out there.
Sometimes I get caught up in the idea that I “should” go out and shoot when conditions look like there might be a really dramatic sunset and with the days of winter, my only option is to head to the lake. I am working on minimizing making a photo for any “should” reasons, but I’d be fibbing if I said that wasn’t the case sometimes. When I do go out to shoot at these times, I don’t feel like I produce my best work in any case.
Interesting to see how the water level was changing between my visits, sometimes higher, sometimes lower. As the water level would change what was revealed along the shoreline would also change, providing new compositions to photograph. The first photo above was made at Willow Lake, also below the dam at Tuttle. This was several minutes past sunset and the color was late to develop on this evening. I liked how the piece of wood silhouetted in the lower right corner helped to anchor the composition and provide some depth to the photo.
Most of the time I’m photographing into the sunrise or sunset, which is something I enjoy doing. Shooting right into the sun can produce some challenges with exposure and dynamic range, but also produce some dramatic conditions to work with. Color at the ends of the day can be found all over the sky though, and one thing I have to be careful about is to not get tunnel vision and forget to look around me. This next photo was made on an evening when the sky to the south produced the most dramatic colors.
We are well into spring now and my attention (the fickle thing that it is) is shifting to the prairie and the wide open spaces of the Flint Hills. The spring burns seem to be largely completed and the hills are turning an amazing, vibrant green. I’ll be spending most of time out wandering through those hills over the next few months, but come late summer, I’ll start ending up at the shoreline of the lakes again. Once fall arrives, I’ll start to spend more time out on the prairie again, but then at late winter, I’ll be back to the water’s edge waiting for the end of the day and watching the geese fly by…hopefully just because I want to.
As always, thanks for reading this post. If you would like to see more of my water themed photos please visit my photo gallery “The Stillness of Water” and “The Energy of Water” and if you would like to be notified of new blog posts, shows, events, print sales, etc. please sign up for my email list.