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Reflections

by Brooke Tasovac (follow)
Blog (286)      Tutorials (58)     
Photography is one of the very few ways reflections can be captured. Beautiful compositions can be made from a scene being reflected in water such as lakes, rivers and rain puddles.

However, any reflective surface such as glass, shiny metals like chrome, and of course mirrors and mirrored surfaces can be a possibility for capturing reflections in a creative way.

There are lots of factors that can change and warp the appearance of reflections - the direction and quality of the light hitting them, and the position and angle with which you view them, and the actions of wind and weather upon them.

So there are quite a few things you need to consider when photographing them:

1) First, you will notice the closer you get to a reflection, the smaller it gets. If you get too close, you might also find yourself caught in the reflection. So to capture the full potential of a reflected scene, you will need to place yourself at a distance (unless you want to be visible like the image below).


2) When composing a shot of a reflection you need to decide what elements you want appearing in the composition. This might be a reflection of something sitting on the surface (such as a boat), the surroundings (such as trees or buildings), people sitting or standing above the surface or even interesting shadows cast from overhead.

Examine the reflective surface from every possible angle until you have the elements you want in the reflection appearing the way you like. Do this by getting up higher or down lower, and walking around it, until the objects you find most pleasing are positioned perfectly. If there is too much clutter, or lines are cutting across the scene in ways that detract from it, try zooming in to crop out some of the distracting elements.


3) The time of day will change the quality of a reflection due to the direction of light rays, the atmospheric conditions and the quality of light hitting the reflective surface, such as in sunny or cloudy conditions. Try returning at different times of the day, and try out the effects of varying weather conditions.


4) When capturing reflections in water, the weather conditions will have a huge impact on the quality of the reflection. To capture an almost glasslike, mirrored image of a scene, you need the water to be perfectly still, hence you will need a very calm, windless day. The best time of the day to get mirror images is usually early morning when conditions are often calm. Winds tend to be slight, and there is less activity about on the water to cause ripples and stirring up of the surface.


You can even capture reflections at night, when coloured lights are reflected in a scene. However youíll need to use a tripod and a long shutter speed to capture them without blur, no matter what the weather conditions are. The benefits of this technique mean that even with movement in the water, the long shutter speed will create a smooth, silky appearance to the reflection, such as in the photo below.


5) You may want to get creative with some amount of water movement breaking up and distorting a reflection in interesting ways. This will only work if the movement is minor. Once the current is too strong or the water too choppy, the reflection will be destroyed completely.


A reflection can also be distorted in glass or reflective surface when the reflective surface isnít straight, such as when glass is broken or when it it is shaped unusually, like in the lines of the building in the photo below.


6) Sometimes it is interesting to try and capture both the reflection and what is going on beneath the surface of the water, such as showing the reflection of a childís face peering into a pond at a fish swimming in it, or showing what the reflection outside the window on the pane, as well as what is happening behind the window. For example, in the photo below, you can see both the reflection of the trees and the lily pads floating just under the surface of the photo. This is tricky to capture but can be done by using lens filters.



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