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Photographing Reflections

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Category: Landscape and Travel

Photographing Reflections In The Landscape - Want to know how to shoot reflections in Lakes? Read this.

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Photo by David Clapp.


ND Grad Filter


Watch the weather

For mirror-like reflections you need a very still day or somewhere that's sheltered by hills so if it is windy, the breeze can't reach the water. If you have a lake near by that's out in the open still go and take a walk around it even if it's windy as there may be pockets of water which are still while the rest of the water's surface is choppy. It'll also help if you get out of bed earlier as the air's stiller in the morning than it is later on in the day. To smooth out any ripples that are disrupting your smooth reflection try using a slower shutter speed to blur the movement. Just remember you'll need a tripod as you don't want to replace the movement of the ripples with shake. If the weather's just not playing ball you could have a go at adding a reflection in an image in Photoshop.

Interesting cloud formations or the colours of a sunrise/sunset look great reflected on the surface of water but it can take you a while to find the right angle that gives you the sky reflection you're looking for. Even if you can't capture a reflection you'll find the light that's reflected off the water will lighten your foreground, making the overall shot more evenly lit.


When photographed, the reflection that's coming off the water will often look darker than the 'real' scene that's causing the reflection. So, to balance the exposure, you'll need an ND Grad Filter. If you line the darker part of the grad so it sits over the sky and finishes at the shoreline, you'll produce a shot that appears to balance to the exposure of the bright sky/surroundings with the reflection.

Abstract shots

Shooting reflections on their own, particularly if the water's slightly choppy, will result in interesting abstract images. Bright colours and bold shapes such as a line of boats in a harbour or colourful houses dotted along the shore create reflections that are well worth looking a little closer at. Just remember to shoot lots and often as the patterns created by the moving ripples will change quickly.

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