Water: The Blue Planet


We live in a world of blue – so much so, that our planet is often referred to as the blue planet.


Water encapsulates our world in many different aspects; oceans surround us, rivers meander through the landscape, and icebergs form dramatic shapes in our polar regions. Rain creates new life and sustains our existence. Without water, life would not exist. The importance of this liquid substance is vital to all life here on earth. Our everyday lives are driven by its existence.


The ocean fascinated and inspired me throughout my life. Living on an island (UK) the coast is never too far away to travel, or too far away from my thoughts. Childhood memories of summer days on the coast remain in my memory. Those who live there always have memories of the coast, both distant and present. Our connection with the sea evokes a sense of well-being, intrigue, and sometimes, even fear.


From a photographic point of view, I approach each photoshoot differently, depending on the conditions offered at the time of the shooting. The winter months offer drama and mood here in the Northern Hemisphere, while summer offers a more peaceful and tranquil scene. Each season offers the photographer creative opportunities for capturing that “special moment.” I’ve always found water inspirational to photograph – the shapes and textures are so appealing.



My personal preference for photographing water is during stormy weather. These wild conditions can create challenges for us as photographers, but the extra effort is rewarding once you get the shot. Battling against gale-force winds and rain can be daunting. Throughout these experiences, returning to the comforts of home has often crossed my mind, even while trekking to our destination. Nonetheless, we are propelled forward in our pursuit of the perfect shot.


I love photographing water, especially waves. Over the last three years, shooting waves has almost become an addiction. Occasionally, I’ve decided to shoot woodland scenes for a change of scenery, only to find myself driving straight past the woods and ending up at the coast shooting waves. There is something so mesmerising about watching waves breaking, it becomes almost hypnotic.


The winter storms are incredible to witness. The majority of the images pictured here were captured during this period. The North Atlantic Ocean can go into a frenzy of activity during the winter. Low-pressure systems develop gaining momentum before embracing the west coast of the UK.



Keeping up-to-date with charts and forecasts and following the progress of these storms as they materialize is important. This extra knowledge helps in predicting the best locations once the storms arrive. The conditions up above are also important. Are there going to be dark clouds? Is the sunlight going to break through? Different conditions will change the appearance of the water. Days with breaks of light are perfect for capturing vibrant colors. Shimmering patterns are also ideal for photography on days with sunshine. Ominous dramatic skies will have the opposite effect, giving the ocean a more sinister appearance. These are my favorite days in which to shoot.


Nature is so compelling and humbling, we often find ourselves lost in the moment. Photography is a powerful tool providing many creative possibilities. Shutter speed is the main creative tool in the camera. We can use slower shutter speeds to blur motion and fast shutter speeds to freeze motion. Both techniques are worth trying out on location for completely different results. If you are shooting in bright conditions, you’ll need a filter for the lens to achieve slower shutter speeds. Neutral density filters are your best choice.



As photographers, while we wish for perfect conditions, nature often has other plans. It’s easy to fall into a negative mindset when things don’t work out how we hoped. Staying positive is crucial in keeping the creative juices flowing. Adapting to the conditions as they are opens up new opportunities.


Here’s an example from my experience when shooting storms; winter storms often arrive with thick clouds and rain. This creates a problem using fast shutter speeds, without a great deal of light to play with. We could increase the ISO or lower the aperture settings to compensate. Both have trade-offs, resulting in loss of depth-of-field or increasing visual noise in the image. In this situation, I’ll often revert to long exposure shots.



Sometimes the storms don’t arrive at all when expected. Instead of returning home disappointed, I’ll shoot water textures on the ocean’s surface or look to find smaller details within the scene using a telephoto lens. Regardless of conditions, there is always something to capture. Sometimes, we just have to look a little harder. I find that color plays an important role in my photographic work, and I rely on Datacolor products to achieve the correct color balance in my images.


Water is truly an inspiration for my photography. We can discover unlimited possibilities when we immerse ourselves in our craft, and water offers us so many opportunities to do so. I’ve become fascinated over the last few years with this subject matter, and I hope you do too.



About the Author – Mark Dobson


Based in the far south-west of Cornwall (UK)


Photography is a full-time passion and career. My professional career started in February 2018 and so far my images of the ocean have been widely published in national photography magazines, exhibited in a London gallery, and awarded in a national competition (Coastal View Winner 2019 - Shipwrecked Mariners Ultimate Sea View Awards)


You'll always find me close to the sea and I organize and lead photography workshops around the coast of Cornwall here in the UK, and further afield in different parts of the world. At present, I'm currently working with other UK seascape photographers and expanding the photography workshops.


Photography Type: Seascape and Wave Photography


Articles from Mark Dobson