The use of reflection as a visual device is not easily pulled from a photographer’s kit bag of tricks like other creative tools. It is possible to control your choice of many visual techniques, like how to frame a subject or how to select a dominant foreground and contributing background. But using reflection requires specific situations where subject matter and reflective surfaces intersect.
Water, glass and mirrors are excellent material to capture reflections and incorporate into photographs. Who hasn’t seen a photo of India’s Taj Mahal or the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument mirrored in their adjacent reflecting pools? The most photographed peaks in North America, the Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colo., are rarely seen without the mountains and aspens mirrored in Maroon Lake.
A successful photograph of a reflection depends on the clarity of the reflective surface and the placement of the reflected subject in the frame. The fun with reflections is finding them in unlikely places and framing subject matter in unusual ways. Here are some tips:
• Photograph a subject in a reflective surface that is surrounded by nonreflective subjects. Puddles of water or a small mirror are good examples.
• Emphasizing the reflected image as the main part of your image will allow you to take advantage of the unique qualities and texture of the reflective surface.
• Many surfaces are more reflective than you might think. Move around surfaces to see how light affects reflections. Taking a low angle with many polished surfaces can reveal reflective qualities.
• Keeping a portion of the original, nonreflected subject in the photo helps a viewer grasp the relationship between the subject and the reflected surface.
• Taking a lower angle and getting the reflected image closer to the camera will emphasize the mirrored image in relation to the non-reflected subject.