How To Photograph River Landscapes

Learn How To Photograph River Landscapes: River landscape photography tips

Capture some movement:

Using a longer shutter speed will allow you to capture the movement of the river. If you are doing this you will need to use a tripod to avoid blurring the whole picture. Look for an area of fast flowing or white water to capture. Including some foreground rocks will also help to add some depth to the photograph.

Get your feet wet:

Often the best view of a river is from standing in the middle of it! Try to fill the frame with water, a large rock or a bridge. These can also provide an excellent viewpoint, as can a bend in the river which may offer an open view upstream.

Find a subject:

Decide if you want to capture the whole river or isolate a part of it as your subject. If only a small part of the river is interesting then a tele-zoom lens will pick this out. For those wide sweeping river vistas you will likely need to use a wide lens to include everything. If using a wide angle lens, move around to find some foreground interest, otherwise an image can easily become boring with no foreground focal point. Also, think about your height above the river, as this will dramatically change the view.

Shoot upstream:

Photographing upstream with the water coming towards you normally works best, as it draws your attention into the photograph, not out of the photograph which can happen with a downstream view. Use the shape and flow of the river to lead you into a background subject. This can be a distant peak or a prominent feature such as an overhanging tree. Sometimes shooting directly across the river to a subject on the opposite bank can also work really well.

Join us to capture some river landscapes on our 4 day Landscape Photography Masterclass in Mt Cook National Park on the 13th-16th of September 2019.

About the Author
Richard Young is a full-time landscape and wildlife photographer based in Wellington. He has been guiding groups of photographers in New Zealand since 2010 and founded New Zealand Photography Workshops in 2013.

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