ProTips and Gear Advice for Capturing Water Footage
A top-selling contributor in our video marketplace, Chris Chitaroni has a lot of experience capturing water on film. We asked him to share his favorite tips and advice for filmmakers looking to work with this fun—but sometimes tricky—element.
I’m not sure why I ever chose to shoot as many watery scenes as I have—but when you look at my stock footage portfolio it becomes evident very quickly that I’ve spent a lot of time getting wet. Liquid is an awesome element to have in front of the lens. It creates unique lighting situations, gives extra movement to an otherwise static scene, and can create some really incredible effects when shooting at high frame rates.
Of course, when capturing water footage you really need to respect the element, especially because you’re working with expensive electronics—one wrong step and you’re going to be left without a camera (but with a really fancy paperweight). But in my opinion, it’s usually worth the risk!
Purchase this clip of a beaver swimming in the water.
While I don’t often shoot underwater, I was lucky enough to be able to shoot some beavers last year. Usually I like to take advantage of water from the dry side—I love the way the water can act as a light source of its own, and depending on how you position yourself in relation to the sun, you can completely transform your scene. It’s easy to create dynamic silhouettes of subjects on the water .
Purchase this clip of a wakeboarder doing tricks.
Water also provides a fantastic colorful background for your footage. It can mirroring the blue sky, distinguishing typically beige or brown subjects (such as a people) from the background.
Purchase this clip of a backflip into the water.
I’m also a huge fan of shooting water with high frame rates—and when you’re shooting for slow motion, nothing shows up quite as well as water droplets.
Purchase this clip of a man on a water slide.
Finally, shooting water footage also gives you a great excuse to get out on the water with your friends.
Purchase this clip of women having fun on the water.
The important thing to remember for anyone capturing water footage, is that the most difficult part of shooting on the water is that your exposure can change quite drastically in the blink of an eye—especially if you’re on a moving boat. You’re going to be fighting with shadows and reflections more than usual—and artificial lights aren’t always an option. Your best bet is to invest in a good reflector—or even a big piece of white foam core to help bounce some light onto your subject—as well as a large flag to keep your subject out of the direct sun.
Finally, it’s really important to make sure you secure all of your gear. I can’t stress this enough. I made the mistake of filming wakeboarding hand-held off the back of a boat with no strap. The rider crashed, causing slack in the line to bounce up and wrap around the screen of my RED Epic. When the rope handle landed back in the water it pulled the rope taut and almost pulled the camera right out of my hands—it happened in the blink of an eye! Luckily, I held on and just got yanked out of my seat, but I still have nightmares about that to this day.
But despite the risks, I definitely recommend getting out there and capturing footage on the water—at the very least you’ll spend a beautiful day by the lake, and you might capture your next top-selling clip, too.
Check out the rest of Chris Chitaroni’s contributor portfolio in our video marketplace. Or discover more of our water footage.