Working with reflections: The Practicing Photographer

Published by | Friday, July 19th, 2013

Reflections are something you often don’t want in photography. If you’re shooting through a window, for example, you might attach a polarizing filter to your lens to reduce the glare and reflections of the world behind you (see Chapter 2 in Foundations of Photography: Specialized Lenses).

At other times, though, reflections can add a striking element to a photo. And that’s the subject of this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer, wherein Ben Long reflects on the value of reflections.

As Ben explains, our brains often ignore reflections when we’re looking at a scene. Our visual centers are tuned to focus on real things—like that saber-toothed tiger that might turn us into lunch. Because of this natural editing process, we might miss a great photographic opportunity created by a body of water, a mirror or window, a rain-soaked street at night, or even a puddle. Ben encourages us to keep an eye out for reflections and to incorporate interesting ones into our photos.

Some examples

A reflection might be a mirror image created by a placid body of water, as in this photo I shot of a beach in Northern California.

Beach - Reflections


Or a reflection might be a more abstract collection of patterns and color, as in this night shot of San Francisco Bay and the city’s North Beach neighborhood.

San Francisco - Reflection


You can also make a reflection the subject itself. Here’s a shot of one of my dogs reflected in a wet road. I cropped the photo, flipped it upside down, and named it, ahem, “standard puddle.”

Standard Puddle - Reflections


Watch this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer, then go out and do some reflecting.

Interested in more?

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