How to shoot great water smoothing photos

What you'll learn

1.What is water smoothing?
2.When you would use water smoothing techniques
3.How to take great water smoothing photos

In landscape photography, water (be it the sea, streams, lakes or waterfalls) always adds an extra beautiful aspect to the scene you’re photographing. This neat technique will help you take your water photos up a notch.

What you'll need

  • Camera
  • Sturdy Tripod
  • Cable Release OR
  • Triggertrap Mobile Kit (Buy Here)
  • ND Filter

A bit of theory!

One way of enhancing landscape scenes with water running through them is to use a technique called water smoothing. Water smoothing does exactly what it sounds like: it gives the appearance of smooth, flowing water.

This effect is easily achieved by using a long exposure (slow shutter speed). Don’t forget to check out our basic tutorials for a quick reminder on how to use Manual Exposure and Bulb mode.

Water smoothing relies on motion blur – typically something photographers do our best to avoid – to create the smooth water effect. The long exposure allows the movement of the water to blur, and as the exposure time increases, the amount of blur that occurs also increases. The longer the exposure, the smoother your water is going to look.

There are some issues when it comes to trying to use this effect, especially during the day. Even at the smallest aperture and lowest ISO available, it’s often impossible to get a slow enough shutter speed to give you enough blur – at least without an ND filter, that is.

An ND (Neutral Density) filter allows you to cut down on the amount of light entering the camera, simply by placing a filter on the lens. ND filters are simply a gray filter that cuts stops some light entering the lens without affecting the colour. You’ll find a whole tutorial on using ND filters here. When water smoothing, you’ll want to use the strongest ND filter  you have available as this will give you the longest possible exposure time.

Setting up

Capturing the photos


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