Water is an ideal reflective surface for photographers to experiment with. If you have the right approach, a creative imagination, and the bit of patience you’ll need for trial and error, you can get some amazingly interesting shots with water reflections.
When you photograph reflections, you take ordinary subjects an turn them into something surreal, memorable and highly unique because you’re showing them in a totally different light to your audience. This makes reflection photography a winner and definitely worth your time, any way you cut it.
Fundamental Shooting Considerations
Depth of field is always important, but it takes on some added importance with water-reflection photography. Begin by ensuring that your f-number is high: shoot for at least f/8. This is going to work wonders when it comes to leveling out the subjects of your shot, thus allowing your audience’s eyes to see them in closer proximity. As a result, the neat reflection effect in your images will be heightened, much to your delight and that of your audience!
Next, you’ve got to deal with focus. The distance between the body of water and your actual subject is key here. Begin by focusing first on your subject; then, move on to your reflection in the water. This is going to give you subtly different results, nothing too drastic, but enough for you to decide which style you like better. You’ll make your decision based on the degree of attention you wish to draw to the reflection.
Reflection Minus the Main Subject
Have you ever thought to yourself that reflection photography doesn’t always need to have the actual subject in the frame? If so, you’d be right, and not having the subject in the shot can make for an even more interesting experience because it adds an element of mystery to the frame! Your viewers trying to figure out exactly what they’re looking at in the water reflection can be an extra hook to your imagery.
Lights at Twilight
There’s just something innately magical about darkening conditions, light and the water that really produce memorable images that pop.
Reflections in Still Waters
Even just the different conditions of a body of water will lend a unique feel to any reflection photograph. Taking shots of calmer waters with reflections lets you show ideal symmetry in your images while taking shots of more turbulent waters gives the picture more character, as textures in the water come to the forefront.
Reflections in More Turbulent Waters
Now, let’s look at the opposite: taking shots of turbulent waters. When you have ripples in the water, you get a shot at a different kind of beauty in reflection. Abstraction will occur because of added texture to the water’s surface. This will make whatever subject you have reflected appear more surreal as well.
Note that you don’t even need to wait for some wind to churn up the water a bit. Just shoot with a longer exposure to duplicate this effect successfully. A longer exposure allows for extra time for the water to move as the shutter is open. At the end, you’ll get a dreamy, abstract appearance in your photograph.