DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY - Point and Shoot Cameras

Pro Tips For Amateur Photographers

Nikon L32, Point and Shoot Camera

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How To Shoot Misty Smooth Water Photo
Daytime, With Point and Shoot Camera

For this photography tutorial we are going to make bubbly river water look misty and smooth. Shooting rivers, streams, or waterfalls to make it look smooth and misty is usually done with a dlsr camera because you can attach the filter to the camera lense to create the misty smooth effect. Since we cannot attach a filter to our point and shoot camera we will simply hold it in one hand and shoot the photo with the other hand. (Best to practice before heading out to take your shots.) It is not difficult to do, but does require some skill.

You can also put your camera onto a tripod which will make it easier to shoot; and is recommended for this type of shot. And, instead of holding the neutral density filter, you can use an extendable selfie wand to attach your filter to. Just make sure your selfie wand extends to the same height as your tripod or the same tripod height your using for this shot. Most tripods extend to about 59 or 60 inches. Put the selfie wand in front of the camera lense, but do not let it touch the front of the camera, about a quarter to half inch from the camera is good.

About The Camera - Nikon L32

The camera used for these shots is a Nikon L32, a point and shoot camera, which sells for about $125-145 canadian. Some of its features include; Scene Modes- Sports, landscape, night landscape, beach, fireworks, portrait, night portrait, dusk dawn, food, closeup. You can adjust the Exposure +-, Flash : auto, sync, background fill. and the White Balance - daylight, flourescent, cloudy, candescent, and custom white balance. It has Self Timer: 2 sec, 10 sec, and Intelligent Mode for face detect and the like. It does not have Wifi.

It does not have an adjustable manual Aperture, or Shutter, or ISO. It does have Sports mode which allows for some faster shutter speed for action shots: Sports mode has 1/250 of a second shutter speed for non zoom and about 1/500 when zoomed to capacity. At these shutter speeds you can freeze slow to moderate movements like; flowers, people, cars, boats and the like. And, you can photo freeze flying birds as long as they are not flying too fast. Hummingbirds you cannot freeze a photo of them in flight at these shutter speeds.
Manual aperture and shutter speed are not usually found on a camera in this price range, although ISO usually is. It uses regular batteries or the new lithium type batteries which allows you to take a lot of photos. With the photo size at 1600x, i am shooting about 2000 photos per 2 lithium AA batteries.

Other features you may want and find in this price range are the Long Shutter(1-15 seconds), and Starry Sky modes(15,30,60 seconds), both are used to slow the shutter speed when taking night time photos of sky(stars), lights, or landscapes. If your looking for a camera with these features in the same price range, you can buy the Canon Elph series, they have several to choose from in the $145-$250 prices, and also Panasonic brand features the starry sky mode usually with 15, 30, and 60 seconds, although a bit more pricey.

Although the Nikon L32 does not have some features perhaps it could of had;(Manual ISO, Manual Long Shutter 1-15sec) it does feature the fireworks(4 seconds for fireworks only) mode and night landscape(1,2 seconds) mode, and dusk dawn mode (2,3 seconds) which is good for night time shooting. And, it offers some faster shutter speeds when using the Sports mode. The camera takes nice pictures with its 20 mega pixels, 5 optical zoom; and it is very user friendly.

Creating Our Misty Smooth Water

In order to create this effect, we need to slow our shutter speed. However, when we slow the shutter speed we let more light into our camera sensor. This is fine if your taking your shot at night when it`s dark, but we are shooting in daylight, and it is going to really over expose our photo. To adjust for this, we must use the neutral density filter to both create our effect and keep our photo properly exposed.

Neutral Density Filters

There are two basic types of neutral density filters; ones that have a single individual stop number, and a variable neutral density filter, that turns like a dial, allowing you to use many stops. This is the one we will be using. You can buy one at your local camera store, or online. Because they are made to fit dlsr cameras, they are available in many diameters. I bought a 77mm on If your planning on eventually buying a dslr camera, buy one that is the size of that camera lens; a 58mm is common for canons and for nikons.

A variable neutral density filter has increments called, stops. To choose one you simply turn the filter one way and the filter lightens and darkens. We will use the more dark, because this will give enough stops so we can create the misty smooth white water effect.

When To Shoot

If we tryed this shot on a nice sunny day the surrounding and background foliage in the image would not look so good, because the camera would lighten it too much. To create the best exposure scenario, best to head out on a cloudy day; find yourself a bubbly running brook or river, or even better, a nice waterfall.

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Photo 1
how to create misty water shot

For our first photo, Photo 1, we simply took a photo of this small river stream, using SCENE MODE- landscape mode, no flash was used, hand held the camera, and we did not zoom in at all. As you can see by looking at photo1 I am about 4 or 5 feet from the water I'm shooting.

Photo 2
creating misty water with neutral density filter

In our second photo shot Photo 2, we used the neutral density filter, and put the dial at about half; so the filter was somewhat darkened as shown in this photo of the filter. Our water now has a misty look to it.

neutral density filter, variable, digital photography

Taking the shot
I held the filter in my left hand (I`m right handed), and the camera in my right hand. I rested the bottom of the camera on my left hand thumb to give some support, while at the same time using my left hand fingers to hold the filter. If you find it easier, just use a tripod for your camera.(recommended)

Composing Photo 2

To compose your photo;

add your camera to a tripod if you have one,

variable neutral density filter, polaroid

keep the neutral density filter dial to about half;

put the density filter just in front of your camera lense but not touching your camera,

Use ; SCENE MODE - landscape mode, no flash, no zoom.

Put or keep the white balance at AUTO mode;

There may be a bit of glare on the filter, if so turn it to adjust it,(not the dial just the filter itself) left or right,up down, to eliminate the glare.

To take the shot; press your shutter halfway to focus the shot; then press the shutter button to capture the shot.

As you can see in Photo 2, our water has some misty look to it, and the foliage to the side and background still looks green, similar to our first photo.

However, we want to take another photo, because we want the water to have more of the white smooth misty look.

Compose Photo 3

For our third photo, we will adjust our neutral density filter so the filter is darkened at the dark end of the stops as shown in this image.

stops on variable neutral density filter, polaroid

Composing Photo 3
To compose your photo; keep the neutral density filter dial at the darkest stop;

Use ; SCENE MODE - landscape mode, no flash, no zoom.

Put or keep the white balance at AUTO mode;

There should not be any glare on the filter at this stop.

To take the shot; press your shutter halfway to focus the shot; then press the shutter button to capture the shot.

Photo 3

Photo 3 has more of the misty smooth water look; however, our foliage to the side and background has diminished somewhat, not quite as green as our first two photos. It is what we call in photography - over exposed. Sometimes an entire photo can be over exposed or as in this photo only a section of the photo is over exposed.

To add more green, and make the foliage in Photo 3 look more like the first two shots; we will need to adjust our exposure bias graph(exposure values), then take the photo again.

Composing Photo 4
Adjusting the Exposure +_ Value

exposure button, Nikon L32 Camera

This is easy to do. The exposure is something you can adjust for just about any photo you shoot, and almost all cameras allow them to be adjusted manually. The exposure bias has increments. of 3 or 4, to either lighten your exposure or darken your exposure. If it is at 0 means it is neutral or even exposure; and all camera modes have it at 0, unless you have changed it yourself. To find it, look for +- symbols next to your menu, flash, or self timer buttons, on your camera.

exposure bias button Nikon camera, 2 stops negative

So we will use less exposure, meaning we want to minus our exposure by a number of stops,(increments). Move the exposure to the - negative. Three increments to the negative side is good. Prepare your neutral density filter as you did for photo 3.

Shoot the photo.

Photo 4

Photo 4 now shows the foliage as more green and overall, the misty smooth water is very similar to photo 3, but looks smoother.

Photo 3


Bringing Along Your Tripod

In most camera shots like this, a tripod is recommended because it will prevent blur and keep your image sharp. Although I didn`t have to walk far to get to the waters edge, the rocks and terrain were a tad challenging, so i didn`t bring along the tripod, although having one would make shooting this photo easier because I would only have to hold the neutral density filter.

It you don`t use the tripod, make sure to enable your camera built in image stabilizer. Most modern day point and shoot cameras have the image stabalizer feature. And, you can also hold your breath, take the shot, then breathe. This is known to help steady the shot.