Digital Photography: Reflections On Water

Grand-Tetons-Reflection-dp-Reflections have always been one of my theme topics that I enjoy shooting. Because it is a theme, I’m always on the lookout for reflections wherever and whenever I’m shooting. The reflections I shoot generally come in two types – either moving or still water. Even within these two categories, there are various ways reflections can happen.

Let’s look at some examples. If you are not used to shooting reflections of water you might ask ”How many different ways can you show reflected water?” The answer is quite a few, for example:

  •  wet roads or parking lots;
  • puddles;
  • rain drops hanging from leaves or branches;
  • a pond;
  • still water;
  • slow moving water;
  • rippled water and the list goes on and on.

Basically, when you are around water, train yourself to look for reflections. They are all over once you start looking for them. The subject will, of course, have to be nearby so it is reflected on the water unless you are shooting white clouds in the sky and then the subject is not close by (but it makes a great reflected photograph).

Lit subjects at night reflected in a puddle, wet road or parking lot can be quite dramatic. The trick is to get out there right after the rain has stopped. The air is usually clean and crisp, since the rain washed away most of the pollution particles in the air, and no areas have started to dry up yet. This can create huge surfaces to catch reflected subjects.

One reflected subject many photographers miss are reflections in raindrops hanging from leaves or branches. While you generally have to use a macro or other close-focusing lens and have your camera mounted on a tripod, the curved surface of a raindrop lends a different look to reflected subjects. Normally we are used to seeing reflections on flat surfaces and not convex.

Probably the most common reflection image most of us are used to seeing is a subject reflected on a glass-smooth surface of water as in the image of the Grand Tetons in this blog. In this reflection situation, there are three normal ways to shoot it:

  • a mirror image reflection of the subject to the point where you can turn the image upside down and not tell which is the subject and which is the reflection;
  • a reflection of the subject and the subject, but not mirrored;
  • just the reflection of the subject.

With a smaller surface of water, such as a pond, you may also want to include edges of the pond depending on its size. In larger bodies of water, such as lakes or seas, you might not have any shoreline showing at all.

The last category is photographing reflections on moving water. One of my favorite situations is a light ripple on the surface and very green shrubbery on the shoreline. I’ll photograph just the rippled reflection, sans subject, creating more of a French- impressionistic artistic-type image. This makes a great abstract-type image for micro-stock purposes or to use as a non-distracting background in Power-point presentations.

Slow moving water, such as a creek or river, also can create an image with an impressionistic feel, but this subject generally works better if you include the subject. Show the subject clearly and the reflection blurred.

With all reflection images, using a tripod is a must. Many of your images will have great depth-of- field as you want both the reflection and subject tack-sharp. In moving water images, you still want the subject tack-sharp, but the reflection will be slightly blurred due to shooting the moving water with a slow shutter speed. The well-focused subject along with the blurred reflection makes for a very striking image.

If you are looking for something different to add to your image collection, reflections could be just what you are looking for. Reflect on it for awhile to determine if the reflection theme is something you want to add to your repertoire.

This entry was posted in Digital Photography Tips, Digital Photography Videos and tagged , , , , , .