How To Photograph Pond Life

Last Updated on May 5, 2021

pond in Georgia at sunset

Ponds offer an abundance of interesting scenes and subjects for the prepared photographer. From birds, to fish, insects, foliage, and the reflective surface of the water, the photographic options are endless.

Pond Life Photography Guide

With the right gear and technique you can capture amazing nature shots at a pond and in this article we will go over everything you need to know to get started photographing pond life.

What Gear Do You Need


A good nature camera will allow you to take great pond pictures. This choice will depend on your experience with photography as well as your budget. Digital cameras are the most popular choice for nature photographers.

DSLR cameras are the best choice among professional and amateur photographers and are considered the highest quality type of camera. If you want to stick with a point-and-shoot camera, be sure to get one that has a tripod mount for more stability when shooting in long exposures.


For landscape shots you will want to use a wide aperture for a shallow depth-of-field, but for close up shots you want to use a wide aperture with a shallow depth-of-field. The lens choice will also depend on your experience and budget.

Telephoto lenses are used to get closer shots, but have a narrow field of view which means less will fit into the frame. Macro lenses are great for shooting small subjects as they focus much closer than standard zooms. This is great for insect and foliage shots.


A tripod is necessary for taking long exposures as the camera will need to be stabilized. They are also needed for any shots of moving water, such as a waterfall. Keep in mind that the tripod will have to be able to withstand you getting close enough for good nature shots. A light one will also be helpful if attempting to hike with it.


Filters can be attached to your lens and are useful for taking nature pictures. These include filters for reducing the amount of light that hits the camera, creating a starburst effect, and removing unwanted light.


A flash is good for taking shots of small subjects, but should be used without in-camera flash to get better results. They are also useful for filling shadows created by bright sunlight when using a wide aperture setting. Be sure to use off-camera flash if you want to control it separately from the camera.

Tips For Photographing Ponds

If you are photographing an area with tall grass or plants try to keep your body as horizontal to the ground as possible. This will help prevent having unwanted elements in the frame.

Try moving closer or further away from your subject to adjust the depth-of-field of the shot. If photographing a bird or other small, fast moving subject, move towards it a little bit and then quickly swing your camera back down for a motion blur effect. This will help freeze any stationary objects that are in your shot.

Try to avoid photographing ponds at midday. This is the time that has the most direct sunlight and will result in harsh shadows, blown-out highlights, and low contrast. Instead try to shoot during the Golden Hour which is one hour before sunrise or after sunset.

Another alternative to not getting good images at midday is to shoot a silhouette of your subject against the sun. A silhouette will remove any unwanted elements and provide you with a very clean looking image.

When photographing birds, try to get the bird in the center of the frame to prevent unwanted elements from appearing on one edge. Try getting close with your lens and then slowly zoom out until you get a good composition.

Shooting directly into the sun can leave you with a silhouette, but it can also result in lens flare if shooting at an angle. If you do decide to shoot directly into the sun, try to get a dark silhouette instead by using a polarizing filter or by turning off your auto-focus feature.

A good way to make a natural looking water reflection is to have some blurred motion in the reflection. You can get this by shooting the water with a slow shutter speed of about one or two seconds.

If you are shooting insects, start by standing up and looking down at them so that they don’t get scared away. From there you can move in closer and use a macro lens if needed.

Bottom Line

Photographing ponds is easy once you have the right gear and techniques. If you want your efforts to pay off with better pictures, there’s no substitute for good technique! It is not enough to buy a camera or a lens. You must learn how to use it or it will be of little use to you so practice practice practice.