The still water of a quiet morning, the shiny surface of polished metal or the window that reveals a mirror image of a far-away subject can help an enthusiastic photographer come home with excellent images. The commonality between these items is they produce a reflection. Interest is added to what may be a common or mundane element. With the reflective surface incorporated into the composition, a more intriguing way to show the primary subject is unveiled. Reflections are found in many places. The first step in capturing great shots of them simply requires one to open his or her eyes to the environment to see them.
Reflections can be found in nature or in man-made objects. Mirrors are the obvious first thought that comes to mind. Find surfaces that act like a mirror, and you can easily expand possibilities in your compositions. The next time it rains, look for a puddle to see the surroundings inverted in its water. If you live in a city with lots of lights, note how they reflect off the streets simply because the surface is wet. Rather than just photograph city lights, include the shimmering neon glow reflected on the pavement.
Any glass surface has reflective potential. Based on the angle at which it’s viewed and the direction of light, reflections can be very strong. Look at any window from different angles to see how changing your vantage point helps emphasize or eliminate a subject reflected in its surface. Use a polarizer to heighten the effect of the reflection, but be careful because spinning it to a specific point can also obliterate it. Be it an image captured in a single pane of glass or of multiple buildings reflecting their shapes into a towering glass skyscraper, use both your wide-angle and telephoto eyes to find the best images.
Water is often used by photographers to create great reflection shots. A still and quiet morning at a lake just about guarantees you’ll get a reflection. Coupled with a gloriously colored sunrise and the potential to come home with a winner is amplified. If you live along the coast, go to the tide pools at low tide to get shots of the sea life reflected in the water that surrounds them. Head outside after a soaking rain and look for puddles. Walk 360 degrees around them and look for potential photographs. Get low to the ground to impact what you see in the reflection. Bring a large plastic bag to lay upon if you don’t want to get wet.
An alert photographer realizes he or she has the option to make an image of just the reflected portion or include it with the actual subject. I suggest you do both, as it’s better to decide which one you prefer when you sit at the computer rather than kick yourself for not doing both and wish you had. By the way, don’t limit yourself to just the outdoors. Play with mirrors and do some tabletop setups. A great product to use is Mylar. Found at most art supply stores, a single sheet will provide hours of photographic fun shooting reflections of flowers and other great nature subjects.