Capture Amazing Reflections

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Reflections are all around but you need to tune your vision to spot them easily. A well captured reflection can make a stunning picture that will make your audience sit up and take notice of your work. To take great reflections you need good technique but it also helps if you know where to look, so here are some ideas as well as a few tips.

Glacial Lake Reflection
Glacial lake in Iceland: the icebergs help deaden the surface of the water creating reflections

When shooting reflections, the first subjects that spring to mind are Lakes and Ponds. These can look stunning but it's often difficult to find a large body of water that's still enough to give a good reflection. The larger and deeper the water, the less likely it will create a good reflection. 

There are of course exceptions such as lakes which are well sheltered by surrounding mountains. These can often boasts fabulous reflections but take care not to make your reflection too perfect or people will question whether it is real. The ripples on the water in the image below (caused by a dog in the water) add to the image rather than detract.

Wastwater reflection
Superb reflections on Wastwater in the English Lake District

When capturing reflections on the surface of lakes and ponds, filters are essential. The reflection above used a 0.6 Neutral Density graduated filter to balance the exposure of the brighter sky with the darker reflection on the lake. Without the filter the shot would lose its impact. Remember though, reflections are darker than the subject they are reflecting so you should try to avoid using too strong a filter if you want the image to be believable.

Lowry Theatre
The Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays, Manchester, England

Urban locations can also provide loads of reflections. In this shot of the Lowry Theatre reflected in the Manchester Ship Canal, the surface of the water was choppy. The distance of the object from the camera together with a long exposure and the use of HDR have helped smooth out the ripples to give a reflection.

You don't actually need much water at all to capture good reflections. Puddles and wet pavements are often great for reflections. As the water is very shallow they reflect perfectly and can make good detail shots. In fact you don't need water at all. Many modern surfaces such as chrome, steel and glass are great reflectors. These can often be enhanced by boosting the contrast of the image as reflections have a lower contrast range than the subjects they reflect.

When you take the time to look around there are literally reflections everywhere.

About the Author

Robin Whalley is a UK based Landscape Photographer whose work has appeared in magazines such as Canon EOS User, Photography Monthly and Outdoor Photography. He has been a finalist in both Photographer of the Year and Landscape Photographer of the Year, where his work has been included in national exhibitions. His Lenscraft website is packed with landscape photography and tutorials to help the aspiring photographer.

Written by Robin Whalley

September 29th, 2011 at 10:29 am

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