Many fluid flow applications, for example shock wave propagation and jet flows, involve variation of thermodynamic state variables such as pressure or density of the fluid. In order to fully understand the dynamics of the flow, quantitative information about the variables is desirable during experimental measurements of these applications. The background oriented schlieren (BOS) method is a relatively new quantitative visualization method that uses a digital image correlation algorithm and a numerical solver. It has been applied for measuring the density variation in gaseous fluids. In this paper, the main focus is to apply BOS to the study of shock dynamics in water and provide a detailed protocol for such a method. The experimental results indicate that this technique is a reliable and robust way of probing pressure variations in water for shock impact events.