Water is an inherently “tricky” thing to photograph. While I’m not going to get into the science of things, I figured I could share some tips with you for taking pictures of your kids when they are swimming pool. The images you can get will depend on the camera, the available light, and how far away you are.
Toby has been taking lessons at Goldfish Swim School for quite some time. I’m frankly not quite sure when we started, but I know he has progressed through the various classes and loves every minute of his swim lessons.
The facility is very nice, with numerous windows around the indoor pool, so you have a lot of ambient light. This is *great* for taking pictures of your child in the swimming pool. Every so often, I will take some pictures to document his progress — for that memory book I’ll eventually get around to making once I decide what format will be best (Wildflower Ramblings has a nice series on keeping and recording memories).
That being said — you have to get the pictures first. So here are my tips, which I’ll keep simple and sweet.
1. Don’t use a flash if you can help it.
You heard me. Water is so reflective that your flash will illuminate all the water droplets in the air as your child swims; the flash will reflect off the water’s surface too. If you’re trying to capture something underwater, it will not be visible at all. So, if you have the luxury of a well-illuminated pool like ours, or an outdoor pool on a bright day — don’t use the flash. If you can’t get a photo without flash because the pool is too dark, well, then cut your losses. Use your camera’s low light setting, or turn off the flash and see how it turns out. If that doesn’t work, let the flash do its job. Take the photo, deal with the flash being present in your image… and don’t worry about it. Something is better than nothing.
2. Use “Fast” or “Action” settings on your camera.
If your camera has some sort of action setting, this may do the trick. Basically it will have your camera take the picture more quickly (it uses a faster shutter speed to eliminate blur, to get technical). These settings usually have the flash automatically turned off, so you won’t have to worry about that.
3. Use a higher ISO (“film speed”) or low-light scene mode on your camera.
Sometimes low light settings will work too — they typically sacrifice detail, but if you’re okay with a “grainy” photo, then have at it. How good will it look? Well, this depends on your camera. As digital technology has improved, cameras have gotten better at capturing details in low light. So you may find this works …or if you have a low-end camera, it may not be up to par. You’ll have to experiment.
4. Closer is better; get close.
The closer you are, the better. Now, during my son’s lesson, we parents have to sit in the “observation deck” — depending on where my son is in the lane, I’ll be 10-30 feet away from him. So I’ll usually wait until they come to the near end of the lane for any pictures I want to take. If you’re taking videos, it can be fun to document the whole “down and back” swim, but this doesn’t really translate to still photos.
5. Don’t forget about taking pictures when your child is *not* swimming.
While he waits his turn, it’s amusing to watch my son’s antics. I’ve taken some adorable pictures of him at the edge of the pool. Goggle-eyed grins are priceless. As are photos on “graduation day” …or whenever your swimmer accomplishes something new for the first time. Toby gets ribbons from time to time for learning a new skill, and there is nothing more adorable than having a picture of him holding that ribbon, just out of the pool.
So, there you have it! A short and sweet list of tips for taking pictures of your child in the swimming pool. I probably should’ve added a sixth item — don’t get your camera wet!!! But hopefully that’s a given, right?
Do you have any other great tips for taking pictures of kids at the pool, or while swimming? I’d love to hear them.