How to photograph smooth water (Part 1)

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

It’s Easter Sunday, 2020. Unfortunately we are still in quarantine worldwide. I thought I’d go out to get some fresh air and to take some photos to keep myself creative.


We currently live in an apartment that has no garden, only a balcony. It's still too cold for me to sit out there, as the sun is avoiding us. Maybe summertime we will bring some sunshine.


Not far from our apartment--about two minutes walk--we have a little swamp. Oh yeah, I can already be very happy about that. As the water fills the swamp given, all the goodies come with it, like small plants, trees, mushrooms, moss--all these things make me very happy indeed, compared to living a quarantined life.


I grabbed my camera, my mask, my rubber boots, and aimed at the swamp. My goal with today’s photography is to create a smooth, smooth water surface.


As always, I start with the end product. This became one of my selected images that I retouched.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II, f/6.3, 1/540sec, ISO-100, Lens: Canon 24-105


The weather outside was partly windy, but fortunately there was sunny weather outside; it was 10°C / 50 Fahrenheit.


What's in my bag?

Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II, Canon EOS 700D

Lens: Canon 24-105, Canon 50mm 1.8, Sigma 70-300 Macro

Filter: ND filter - Ice Optical Glass ND10000

Tripod: YoTilon ultralight travel tripod, Joby mini tripod

Canon EOS 700D, f/5.6, 1/250sec, ISO-800, Lens: Sigma 70-300 Macro


I first walked around our little muddy swamp to decide what I was visualizing in my head, before memorializing it on my photograph.

Canon EOS 700D, f/1.8, 1/400sec, ISO-100, objektív: Canon 50mm 1.8


In order to be able to take photos with a long shutter speed during the day (because this will make the surface of the water mirror-smooth), I will definitely need a filter. An ND filter.


If you know what an ND filter is good for, feel free to skip this section.