Water in all of its forms is one of nature photography’s greatest subjects. It can be the main focus of an image, or it can be a complimentary add on. Water of course can be clear like a looking glass, or a mirror. It can be frosty and opaque. It can be tiny as a drop, or as big as an ocean. It can be a solid as in ice or snow, a gas as in clouds or fog, and of course a once again a liquid. One that I drink every day with my meals.
Photography of the natural world, and sometimes man’s world, would be dull and lacking in much of its natural art without water.
I could of literally, not virtually literally, posted thousands of images in this post where water, in one form or another, is visible.
I cannot fathom a guess, as to how many times I have used water to reflect a scene while making a photo.
The Maroon Bells of the Colorado Rockies.
There is no better time (s) like sunrise/sunset to use water for reflections.
Here we have clouds (water) reflecting in a Lake Michigan tidal pool (water) at sunrise. I always lived for moments like this.
Here we have more sunrise clouds, this time reflecting into a small lake. This was made from Brockington Mt., in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Reflections in still waters can be so intense with certain subjects, this one being autumn trees in Morgan Creek in Wisconsin’s Chequamegon National Forest, that they can almost become surreal. This is as straight forward of an image as possible. My job was to compose what I found, and this was what came of it.
I always looked for intense moments of reflectivity with still waters when the colors around the water were powerful. Whether the subject is autumn leaves, flowers, mountains or otherwise.
The Lake Michigan surf at sunrise.
Water, in the forms of both clouds and lakes, when they come together, make powerful statements.
I do not remember making this image but I can imagine how much I wished or prayed for that tiny break in those storm clouds at sunrise.
Water can be animate via the use of what else…….animals.
This gull looks lonely and pensive as it appraises the rising sun and the crashing surf.
Of course detail is not necessary when you have the opportunity to use water with rhythmic ripples, along with the colors of the rising sun, and the obvious shape of a duck. Together they not only colorfully show shape and form, but motion. Water was necessary to create this image. Water is the photographer’s friend.
Here water creates a mirror for a double image of a Muskrat.
Water reflects color as we saw in the fall image earlier, and those colors can be a beautiful blue sky as well as anything else. This male Greater Scalp made beautiful rings in the water as it searched below the surface for food. What really makes this image is the drop that is dripping from its bill. The drop is of course made from my featured subject for the day……..water.
Of course snow and ice are water and this immature Bald Eagle is flying low over frozen water while looking for an opening in liquid water so it can find a fish.
Water in the form of mist or fog, can turn a humdrum scene into a spectacular one. In many ways it is what you do not see, or the mysteries that are held, that makes photos of water at sunrise powerful.
Water in the form of clouds, can provide nice visual contrasts with blue skies.
Liquid water when confronted with downhill elevation changes, no matter how big or small, will by necessity seek the lower ground. So much the better for photographers. Waterfalls, whether we interpret them literally or abstractly, are a gift to the art of photography.
The sun in the first photo, and the lack of sun in the second, help make each image better than it would otherwise be.
Frozen water, in the form of ice, snow or frost, is another gift for photographers.
When I came across this scene, I was enthralled by the amazing and artful way that water in the solid form of ice, and in the liquid form of falling water, came together poetically to create a contrast, not of light or color, but of rigidity and fluidity. Sometimes you just get luck I guess.
More imagery of soft water and frozen water together.
Water, both as ice and as snow.
As frost and as snow.
Back to warmer days.
As most of you know, I dedicated much of my photographic life to “dewy things” in the morning. I have countless such images. All one needs is the willingness to get up early, and then crawl around in the wet grasses and carefully set up a tripod and compose and meter an image without shaking the dew off of the subject. A piece of cake.
The orb web and dewy dragonfly below were among the thousands of gifts that greeted me on damp mornings in spring, summer and fall.
Water can also be an aide in creating abstracts. This rising sun came up on a misty (water again) morning. There was mist in the air, with a watery (lake) and a reflection of that sun. I used a fairly long lens of 300mm, and an f stop of f9, despite the fact that I could have shot at f3.5. That combination of mist in the air, water in the lake, and the lens aperture, caused the sun to visually bend around the lens opening. In some ways the sun appears to be melting before our eyes.
There are many ways to interpret a scene. One does not have to recreate scenes in the digital darkroom at home or use trick filters while at the scene. A little knowledge, a willingness to be visually astute, and the help of some water in any of its various forms is enough to fill any portfolio.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
May God Bless,