All photographers who watermark their photographs must consider how opaque or transparent to make their watermark. No one opacity is right for every image or for every photographer. If you're struggling to find the right opacity for your watermark, here are some factors to consider.
Opaque Enough to Be Noticeable
Your watermark should be opaque enough to be noticeable. After all, the whole reason to have a visible watermark is so that it's seen. If no one notices your watermark, then what is the point of having a visible one? You might as well use an invisible watermark that's more difficult to remove.
Making sure people notice your watermark is especially important if you're using it to communicate copyright information, which some platforms strip from images' meta data. Without your details included in the meta data, a visible watermark is the only way to keep copyright information with a photograph. The watermark will only work, though, if it's seen.
It's also particularly important to make sure your watermark is noticeable if you're using the watermark for marketing purposes. If your primary goal in watermarking your photographs isn't to keep them from being stolen but to get your name out, you'll want people to quickly see your watermark when they look at your photos.
Transparent Enough to Not Detract
Your watermark, however, shouldn't be so opaque that it significantly detracts from your photograph. Even if you want people to see your copyright information or name, you also want them to appreciate the beauty of your pictures. If they're turned off from your photo work, it won't matter whether they see that you took the picture.
If you aren't sure whether your watermark is detracting too much from a photo, check whether you see your watermark or the image's subject first when you look at the shot. If the watermark is more prominent, make it a little more transparent.
Of course, looking at a photo that you've taken, edited and created a watermark for with fresh eyes can be difficult. You may want to ask a friend to look at a watermarked photo and ask whether they notice the subject or watermark first.
Visible but Tasteful
In short, your watermark should be visible but tasteful. Many photographers find that an opacity between 20 and 30 percent makes a watermark visible but not too intrusive, but this range isn't the only solution. Some photographers use higher opacities but place their watermarks in areas away from the subject. A few even make their watermark 100 percent opaque, and place it in negative space and match the color to a color in the photograph.
The percent opacity for your watermark will depend on its size and location. You'll need to experiment a little to find out what works best for your photographs and goals. If you'd like to try several different opacities, consider using Water Marquee. The platform makes it easy to create a customized watermark and adjust the opacity to any level that you'd like.