If rivers and streams are the noisy adolescents, lakes have got to be the wizened old grand dad whose porch you'd like to sit a spell on. They've got a whole different feeling to them, and it's a rare one indeed that doesn't make you wish you had your fishing pole with you… and your folding lounge chair… and a cold drink.
Snapping a photograph or two to bring back and show the family can even make your ride through the desert seem ten degrees cooler. And getting a good one shouldn't be too difficult as most body's of water are quite photogenic.
However, there are a couple of points that you need to watch for when you point your camera in their direction. They are most often characterized by their quiet beauty or reflective charm.
ReflectionsWhile you are trying to focus on the water, actually take a moment to LOOK at it; what do you see IN it? I mean besides the ducks. Often it's the reflections in the water that make a photograph stand out.
Capturing reflections of the sky or a prevailing weather system is often done most effectively at dawn or dusk – the colors are more dramatic and the body of water you're shooting is more likely to be still.
If you have a little bit better camera than a point and shoot, it's definitely worth trying out a filter or two to help you control and enhance the reflection effect. For example a polarizing filter helps control the surface shine and darken the sky for contrast. And a graduated neutral density filter can tone down exposure on a very bright sky.
Find a SubjectThe actual lake can be the subject of the photograph but sometimes, even often, a lake is even more grand when it is a bit understated, allowing the viewer to "discover" it themselves. A boat, an animal, a person a lighthouse – all make great focal points for a photo while allowing the lake to show context or scale.
Focus can be use to provide interest by making the reflection sharp and the original slightly blurred. You can look for something a bit out of the ordinary to use as a focal point; or, frame the lake through trees or other objects. In lower light objects or people can be used in silhouette against the water.
Capture Something UniqueAnd, just as in any photo you take, you should at least consider your location and surroundings. Is it possible to get a better shot from just a little further to the left, or closer in? Trying different angles can help you decide how to get the shot in the best possible light and framing.
Take a look at how these photographers below have put all of this together – then go back through the lakes you've already visited and think about planning another ride.