Water is part of our daily lives and is one of the most fundamental natural elements essential to human life. Hence, water is a cherished part of human society, and we naturally are appealed to it's nearly spiritual properties. Being photographed in it's many forms, water is a critical part of photography because it's everywhere in the natural and man-made world. So how do you make your snapshot of a waterfall, current, or water droplet become a visual statement?
First you must understand that images of water usually comes in two forms: one that depicts movement through a "milky" motion blur and one that freezes the fluids motion at a given moment, so it looks like shards of smashed glass. The difference is the blur the eye sees present in the water. In going about a water shot, you must pose the question of what emotions you're trying to evoke. I think the spur of the moment feeling that fast shutter speeds capture (that is without a motion blur) create energy. On the other hand, the silky properties of a long exposure evokes a tranquil and meditative feeling. The trick to making your water images stand out is controlling and manipulating those emotions in a way you personally see fit.
Milky motion blur= 1/4 of a second or longer
Frozen moment= 1/125 of a second or shorter
Macro water droplet images= 1/400 of a second or shorter
Images are copyright Peter Guttman.