The water surface looks so smooth and the lights have the rays coming out. What are the techniques to get such image? What kind of camera settings a dslr camera should have?

enter image description here


3 Answers 3


This looks to be a fairly standard long exposure. The shutter speed needs to be slower than the 'period' of the waves (or 1 over the frequency) - this will cause the water to look flat. The colour suggests that the scene is largely moonlit which is why it's quite bright. With most 'sea' waves, you're looking for a shutter speed of about 10 seconds (or more) for smooth water.

The sharp focus on both the bits sticking out of the water, and the city, suggest a larger depth of field - which suggests you'll also want a small aperture (larger number). Although I expect the aperture was mainly made small to give a longer shutter speed.

To get this type of shot you'll be needing a tripod, and you'll want a low ISO and possibly a neutral density filter infront of the lens to lengthen the shutter speed even more. You'll also need some patience and practice along with some very good light. Shots like this come from spending many days stalking the perfect light conditions, in the cold and dark not just from knowing how to use your camera when you get there.

  • You need to shoot such a scene just after sunset or just before sunup when there is still just a bit of light in the sky.
  • You need to use a very long exposure time to smooth out the water and give it that ethereal feel. At a very minimum you should expose for 15-20 seconds. Even longer is usually better.
  • You need to use a fairly narrow aperture (high f-number) to get most of the scene in focus. Just be careful not to go so narrow that diffraction starts to be noticeable (probably around f/22 with a FF camera, f/16 with an APS-C camera). If you can get by with f/11 (FF) or f/8 (APS-C) and still have the DoF you need then all the better). Use the hyperfocal distance at an aperture that allows the nearest pylon to be just inside the depth of field.
  • You need to use a low sensitivity, such as ISO 100, to allow a longer exposure.
  • You need to have the camera immobilized to prevent blur caused by camera motion. A tripod is typically used for this type of shot.
  • You may also need to use a graduated neutral density filter to get the sky and the water approximately the same brightness.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Alternatively, you should shoot it just before dawn, or possibly with reflected moonlight. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2016 at 18:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ The sky looks too bright relative to the city lights for even a full moon to have enough light to balance them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jul 12, 2016 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree for this specific image, but in other similar images, it might be sufficient - my main point was about dawn. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2016 at 18:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I suspect you may need to wander into the diffraction territory to achieve the star shaped highlights. F/22 or thereabouts. \$\endgroup\$
    – MirekE
    Jul 12, 2016 at 18:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I also suspect that the bright sky is a result of exposure blending (daytime + nighttime). The standalone building left from center looks sunlit. \$\endgroup\$
    – MirekE
    Jul 12, 2016 at 18:41

I would prefer to use Adobe Photoshop. If I won't be having such smooth surface . I will use surface blur and some blend modes to appear to like this.

Hope you know what I meant to say

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The OP wants to take photos similar to this, not to fake the image in PS. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve Ives
    Jul 13, 2016 at 13:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ By the way I'm not a photographer. I just know how to use Photoshop😂😂😂😂 \$\endgroup\$ Jul 13, 2016 at 13:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Aman, wellcome!. The photoshop experience is wellcome, but the idea of the forum is to answer very specific questions :0) There are some questions regarding Photoshop so stay tunned. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Jul 13, 2016 at 14:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes okay .. but how do i find them.. do tag me in that... for sure \$\endgroup\$ Jul 13, 2016 at 16:57

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