Reflections have a special, almost magical place in photography, but it takes a combination of technical understanding and an artistic eye to make beautiful reflective images with your micro 4/3s equipment.
Reflections can be the source of optical trickery to force the observer to look closer while trying to unravel the mystery. They can be a source of confusion and wonder or a way to open up the vista much wider than otherwise possible, such as the city skyline reflected in the mirror-like surface of a nearby lake or canal.
Tips for Reflection Photography
Read on to find out how you can take your reflective photography skills from great to magnificent when you’re next out and about with your favorite Micro 4/3 setup.
The world is full of reflections. The reflective surface of water immediately springs to mind as an abundant source of photographic opportunities. However, everywhere you go, you will notice opportunities such as in a shop window or a puddle on the street after the rain.
Tall skyscrapers of glass and metal provide tons of artistic options for a captivating blend of perspective and reflection, and bodies of water can add extra depth to a landscape image.
Reflections can help you bring a sense of mystery to an image. Ripples can prove useful at warping and distorting a symmetrical pattern that wouldn’t be as impressive on its own. Here are a few more ideas to get you started with micro 4/3 reflections photography.
1. Go Out After the Rain
Soon after the rain has stopped is an excellent time to get out on the streets and take advantage of the many reflections pooled rainwater creates.
When the streetlights have just turned on, a street at dusk creates beautiful stretched-out glows that draw your eye to the center of the photograph. Be sure to use a tripod and a long exposure time to ensure sharpness in your image.
A puddle on the sidewalk can create an exciting composition with focal points at the image’s bottom, center, and top. Sidewalk pavers develop exotic patterns of light and color when you catch the soft glow of neon lights in their reflective sheen after a late afternoon shower.
2. Using Filters
When you’re exploring a city full of glass and steel, you will be surrounded by reflections. If you’re in the mood for landscapes, then bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes, are great locations to find them in nature.
Inexperienced photographers enjoying a landscape photography session may find that a CPL filter ruins any chance of capturing the reflection.
Occasionally, the lighting in a scene may throw you a few challenges. For instance, a landscape reflection in a lake may appear a lot darker than the scene itself. In these instances, you may be able to use a filter to even out the light levels, but never be afraid to experiment.
3. Throw Composition Rules out the Window
Sometimes you have to throw the composition rule book out the window and engage the full force of your creativity to make the best use of reflections.
The most common rule of photography is the rule of thirds – which mostly refers to not placing the subject or the horizon in the center of the image. If you apply this rule to your reflection’s photography, you will miss some great shots. The nature of reflections almost demands you balance the composition along a central line.
Consider an image of buildings reflected in the calm, still waters of a canal. Placing the point of convergence, where reflections meet physical reality, is the best way to achieve a pleasing symmetry. Aim for having as much air and sky above the central line as you do below.
Another point to keep in mind is to be careful to keep the reflection of yourself out of the frame (unless that is in your intention).
4. Experiment with Angles
It’s essential to analyze your shot before you start snapping off images. Try different angles to find the one that will work best. Get down low on the ground or find a high vantage point if the image warrants it.
A mirrored high-rise can reflect a shimmering landscape of the city beneath when captured from a high vantage point.
Architectural shots by the river or lake can create pleasing patterns for the eye with the reflections of buildings in the water rising to meet their physical counterparts.
Best Camera Settings for Micro 4/3 Reflections Photography
The settings you use on your micro 4/3s camera will play a big part in how much of an impact a reflection will have on your image. Here are a few tips on how to set up your camera for the best effect.
Shutter speed is perhaps the most critical setting to pay attention to when attempting to use reflections in your compositions.
If your composition demands a still water surface for a stable reflection, long shutter speeds will help smooth it out to glass-like proportions. Of course, you will need to pay attention to other parts of the composition, as well. Clouds could end up as long streaks, and the sun could create undesirable artifacts.
Landscape reflections work best with reasonably small apertures. The increased depth of fields gives them a lot more impact. Start with f/9 or f/10 and then work up from there if those prove insufficient; you could end up at f/16.
In a lot of cases, you will be working in low-light conditions when experimenting with reflection photography. A tripod will be an essential piece of equipment, and a remote shutter release will prevent vibrations from ruining your image.
If you wanted to try something different with your photography, pursuing reflections may pose some exciting challenges that will spark your creativity while helping hone your skills. From now on, be sure to keep looking for ways to explore and capture images of the world from a whole new perspective.