NESPA’s Design Awards Competition deadline is October 14th. As you plan to submit your best pools, spas and water features to the competition, here are 10 top tips on taking great pool and spa photos.
(1) Shoot during the “golden hours.” Professional photographers refer to the hour after the sun rises and the hour before the sun sets as their golden hours. The light is beautiful and diffused with long shadows. It’s the perfect time to shoot your pools. Set the camera up on a tripod and shoot numerous photos to capture subtle changes in the light and length of shadows as the hour progresses.
(2) Draw a square on a piece of paper and, using two vertical lines, divide the photo into three sections. Now take two horizontal lines and do the same. Looking at your drawing, you have four places in the photo where the lines intersect. As you look at the image in your camera, imagine the two vertical lines and the two horizontal lines and where those lines intersect in the image you are looking at—it’s called the rule of three. Most amateur photographers will focus the camera directly at the center of the image and snap the picture. With the rule of three, you may want to snap a photo at the center of the image, but also try setting up the focal point to be at one of the four intersecting points on the image. Often this will create a photo with a “Wow Factor,” something the design judges may respond to.
(3) Use the lines in the photo—such as a line of trees, the vanishing edge wall, lines on the coping, the deck or other areas--to lead a viewer’s eye to the pool, spa or water feature..
(4) Use a tripod to avoid camera shake. If you must hold the camera, use both hands and your body to take the picture. One hand should go around the camera, one around the lens and then you need to hold the camera close to your body.
(5) Go beyond “Auto Mode” on your camera to take the best picture. Get familiar with “Aperture,” “Shutter Speed” and “ISO” and shoot in the manual mode. You will be surprised at the photos you will take.
(6) Use a midrange aperture to take pool pictures. Don’t go to the low end or high end of the aperture range because that tends to cut down on clarity. Get somewhere in the middle like f/8
(7) Get a decent camera to shoot your best pools, spas and water features, not your phone camera. Then, if you will buy only one lens for the camera, get a polarizer lens. This lens will cut down on reflections of pool water, reflections of glass tiles and metal.
(8) Get a sense of depth with your photos. A lot of pool photos wind up looking flat and uninteresting. Add depth to your photos by using a wide angle lens for a panoramic view, then cut the aperture to f/16 or smaller. That way, you can keep the foreground and background sharp and avoid that all too common problem where portions of the photo are out of focus.
(9) Get a simple background in your photo if possible. Many pool photos look cluttered with too many objects in the background. Remove clutter and simplify the photo to capture the pool, deck and perhaps view.
(10) Don’t use flash on your pool. If it is a dark day, wait for a better one. Using a flash creates a harsh look to the photo. Use the widest aperture on the camera to let in the most light if the day is gloomy…better yet, come back on a bright day at sunrise or sunset.