Beginner

Tips for Photographing Reflections

Glossary

Photographing a subject and its reflection, or just the reflection alone can be a creative take on a photograph. Reflections can be made in many ways, not just from a mirror. Water can be a great reflective surface, add to the subject itself the movement of water and you’ve now turned an ordinary subject into an extraordinary photograph. Other reflective surfaces include windows, like those that make up the sides of a building, or a store window and shiny metal objects like the surface of a chrome car bumper or even a teapot. Other reflective surfaces could include sunglass lenses. You could also use small mirrors that might be found on objects to create interesting photographs, like those in a woman’s compact or a car’s side-view mirror.

Experiment and see what works for you. Zoom in tight on a reflection only, or compose an image so you see both the object and its reflection; include just a piece of the subject and its reflection; or use a reflection as a background for another subject to focus on. Change your position to make more use of the reflection. When photographing a reflection in a puddle, pond or lake, shooting from a lower position will let you include more of the “real world” in the reflection. Calmer water, when there is no wind will give you better looking reflections. Look for patterns; play with light and shadow, and movement. Choose your focus—the subject or its reflection.

One rule of photography that is often broken when photographing reflections is using symmetry. There’s a rule of composition that says a horizon line should never been in the middle of the frame, but in the top or bottom third. When you’re photographing reflections you can break that rule and place the horizon in the center of the frame, letting the reflection play off the subject.

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