Creative Field Techniques - Telephoto Lens for Intimate Waterscapes

I often take my canoe into a wetland prairie to photograph waterscapes at sunrise. A sunrise shoot usually lasts no more than 30 minutes, but I am not ready to go home. Instead, I put away the wide angle lens, get out the telephoto lens and look for those tiny waterscapes. Above, you can see my camera and lens sitting on the tripod and pointing down toward the water. The camera is positioned vertically, the lens zoomed out and the LCD panel swiveled out so I can view the scene from my canoe (I am sitting in the canoe, the tripod legs are in the water next to the canoe). You can also see it is an overcast day and the sunrise was long past. This is perfect for the type of photographs I was going after. With cloud cover, there is no severe glare from the sunlight and the lighting appears more even. This is important when you want to photograph something up close and personal. The diffuse light evens out the tones and you can avoid those blown out brights and burned out darks. Here's one image from that morning.

For these scenes, the small mangrove seedlings or grasses sticking out of the water work best. I can isolate them from their surroundings and almost always, there is no wind to disturb the water. The scene below is an example where the sun was still low enough to cast a golden glow on the water. Attracted to the sharp patterns of the grasses, I set up my tripod in the water and composed  the scene.

So you can see there are so many interesting tiny landscapes that can be composed. Reflections, including clouds are wonderful to capture as you can see in this next image.

You can play with the water and add ripples to create interesting patterns, like in the image below. So, after the sunrise shots, look around for those intimate shots. The best part is, you can do that just about anywhere; a city garden or park, along the beach, hiking through a forest. All you need to do is slow down and observe and bring your big lens.

You can see how I capture these types of scenes in my YouTube video titled "photographing Intimate Waterscapes from a Boat."

Thanks for looking on and if you are interested in receiving tutorials in Photoshop or individualized workshops in the field, please check out my website and feel free to contact me at