Photographing Reflections in Water

I am always on the lookout for a good reflection when I'm out shooting. I find them to be very enjoyable to photograph and interesting to look at and they can also be a good complement to whatever else I may be photographing at the time.

Sailboat Masts

Early morning in the Dana Point Harbor in Southern California. There is usually less wind in the early morning hours which allows for more crisp reflections than when there are small wind waves on the water.

Yosemite Valley - El Capitan Reflection

This is a reflection of El Capitan in the Merced River in Yosemite Valley. It was created in the late fall when the river flows have slowed way down allowing for some nice glassy conditions to form in what otherwise is a very fast moving and turbulent river.

Urban Hints

I created this image at one of our local wildlife refuges. I was there to photograph birds, but when I came upon this scene I had to stop and see what I could do with it. The reflection is of a nearby office tower. As you can see there was a little bit of wind on the water, but I like the additional texture it added.

Crystal Cove

In this example, there is a reflection, but it does not take up the entire frame and is probably not the most interesting or even the primary point of interest in the frame. It does however contribute to and enhances the overall story. My point here is that there are many different ways to work with reflections. Use your imagination. Go out and have fun playing with reflections.

Here's a few tips:

  • Use a tripod

  • Focus manually

  • Use a fast shutter speed, but don't be afraid to play with shutter speed

  • Get low

  • A polarizing filter can help with glare

  • A grad-ND filter will help ensure the sky is not over exposed (if your including the sky in your composition)

  • Go out when the light is best for your desired photo

  • Have fun

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