Swim Photos: It’s “all about the water”

It is a commonplace among photographers that a remarkable photograph is “all about the light.”  That is certainly true for the most part, but I find that when I take photos of swimmers, it is also, to a large extent, “all about the water.” Take a look at the following three photos. The first shows the marvelous swirls that are often churned up in unpredictable, frothy patterns. How it came to be that the swimmer appears to have a halo of water surrounding his head is guesswork. Also note the reflection of that halo and the cap in the water just under his head. Click the photo to see a larger image.

In the second photo, which was taken at a slow shutter speed, we see drops of water flying in different directions as well as a fan-like pattern behind the swimmer. The drama of the swimmer’s butterfly race is seen in his expression and the movement captured in the photo. It is also seen in these water streaks.

In the third photo, the water itself is mostly invisible as the surface as very smooth. But it profoundly affects this image by magnifying the swimmer and refracting the light in various ways as if it were a modernist sculpture of the swimmer, not a literal representation of her. This is also one of those photos where the colors are extremely rich, which was likely due in large part to the use of a polarizing filter on a very bright day. And, finally, the bubbles make the image even more striking.