Water Photos:
Photographing water in its many shapes, forms, and personalities

Water photography snowflake macro
Snowflake: water in
crystal form

Water photos? Uhmmm, doesn't that sound kinda dull? On the contrary: Photographing water is one of the coolest types of macro photography...no pun intended, of course!

Water, after all, changes shape and goes through different forms depending on temperature. Light bounces around and inside water droplets and ice crystals.

With a little "out-of-the-box" thinking, a clever photographer can add a host of interesting photography subjects to his/her collection.

Water is all around us, and is essential for life. It can, rather miraculously, inhabit four different states: liquid, solid (ice), as a crystal (snow), and gas (water vapor, steam, or fog). On this page, we'll discuss strategies for photographing water, and generate some ideas for new approaches to water photos in macro mode.

Before we move on, here are the other pages in this Macro Photography Subjects section:

Photographing water in its liquid form

Most water that we see and feel is as a liquid. Water photos can feature water as the main subject of the photograph, or it can play a supporting role, adding sparkle to another primary macro photography subject.

Water as the main character

Water photos droplets on a window
Water photos droplets on a window
Water droplets on a window. On the left, shallow depth of field, on the right, greater depth of field reveals the landscape features outside the window.

Water in a supporting role

Water photos, droplet on pine needle
Water photos bubbles with straw
Water drop on a pine needle
Air bubbles on a soda straw

Pictures of ice: photographing water as a solid

Frozen water photos, anyone? Seen up close in macro photography mode, we see that ice is full of imperfections. That's a good thing: they add visual interest and sparkle. And as it melts, ice carves itself into fascinating patterns that will never be seen again. No two pictures of ice are the same!

When making ice photos, I prefer natural lighting. Back-light or side light brings out sparkle from bubbles and other imperfections trapped within the ice.

Water photos ice in close-up
Water photos icicle melting
Ice patterns on a car window
A melting icicle

Snowflake photos: photographing water as a crystal

The keys to making snowflake photos are
  1. Capturing intact and pristine snowflakes, and
  2. Preventing them from melting before they're finished posing!
If you live in an area without snow, you're probably out of luck in this category. Those of us who put up with winter have to have some rewards, and photographing snowflakes is one of them!

When making snowflake photos, you have to capture them as they fall from the sky. Snowflakes gathered up from the ground won't be as pretty as the fresh article.

Here's my set-up for snowflake photography: Set up a macro camera on a tripod in a protected outdoor area during a snowfall. I capture snowflakes on a clear plastic CD cover, then clamp the plastic in front of the lens (you could also place the plastic on a glass-topped table, if you have one).

Experiment with different light sources. The most interesting lighting for snowflake photos is back-light, or, in this case, "underneath light". Try shining a flash light at the snowflake at an angle. You could also place the light source right behind the snowflake, shining directly into the lens. Make sure it's not a very bright light (to prevent lens flare), and place it a few feet away (to blur out any details in the light source).

In the examples below, the light source was behind the snowflakes, at roughly a 45 degree angle.

Water photos snowflake
Water photos snowflakes
Photographing snowflakes is a challenge, but no two snowflake photos will ever be the same!

How do you approach water as a macro photography subject?

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Moss droplets 
All you need is a macro lense and a flash light.I prefer the ring flash lite when I shoot these kind of photos. It's so magic to see all these tiny things …

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