Mastering reflections and best places where you can find them
Panorama Photography Nature Photography Travel Photography
July 26, 2019

A famous Persian poet by the name of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi once stated that “The beauty you see in me is a reflection of you”. Reflections play a significant role in our daily lives and it is the same in the case of photography. A beautiful station where life and photography meet is actually calm in the chaos. The phrase “calm in the chaos” upholds its literal value in reflection photography in the sense that the best reflections can be captured on the still waters; once all the chaos of ripples is done with. Photography pundits out there are continuously on the lookout for symmetry and reflections in their images. Between an image of a normal cityscape and a cityscape with reflection in front, there is considerable daylight. Reflection acts as the spices in a curry. The curry can exist without the spices but will it actually be a curry worthy of making you salivate? Reflection completes an image. Let us take a look at the different ways to master reflections and the best places to find them…


Image courtesy: IBMastery

Think outside water bodies!

Whenever we talk about reflection photography, we see a water body flashing in front of our eyes. While great shots can be achieved with the help of the water bodies, we need to think beyond that too. You can get wonderful reflections on wet and shiny surfaces. Some wet stones on the city streets can actually reflect the city lights and provide a different perspective. Distorted reflections can be obtained using window panes. The distortion is actually the spice here. However, you need to be careful while shooting window reflections since the clarity of the reflection should be top-notch.

Yes. Water bodies.

We cannot complete a reflection blog without mentioning water bodies. We have all seen numerous reflection shots on the water bodies. Yet we are left waiting for more. Whenever you are shooting such reflections, make sure that the water body is still. This may not always be possible though. The sharper your reflections are, the better your image will be. Our ultimate motive is to try and equal the clarity of the reflection to that of the actual subject.


A location scouting is mandatory for reflection shots. There are a lot of glass buildings nowadays. Many corporate offices are actually using highly reflective material. Such buildings can be used to get creative shots as well. 

Using a crystal ball.

Crystal ball photography is quite glamorous. When you are doing crystal ball photography, you normally get the inverted picturization of the actual scene. Once you can shoot the reflection of the crystal ball, you will get back the original scene. This can lead to some really cool images with an inverted perspective in the ball and the original in the reflection in front. 

Look around for puddles!

I am sure that you always come across puddles. You actually do not need to travel a lot in order to get great reflection shots. Use the puddles near your home. Puddles are still water bodies and hence great reflections can be obtained. The city life can be shown through the reflection on the puddle. Try to shoot from the ground level as this will make the puddle look more significant. Even wet streets can give you fantastic reflective images.


Yes of course! It is the mirror at your home, office, shopping malls, etc. Echo portraits can be shot beautifully with the help of a mirror. Make sure it is crystal clear. Spots on the mirror can ruin all your efforts. Arrange for some light source that suits your composition. A sharp portrait with the echo in front can add a different dimension to your portfolio.

There are several other places where reflection shots can be made. This may be a thousand kilometers away from your home or even in the lane around the corner. 


Camera settings and mastering reflection shots:


Any camera-lens combination is good enough to shoot reflections. A tripod is actually a must in order to get crystal clear reflections. A wide-angle lens is often preferred. A polarizing filter can come in handy as well.

Camera settings:

For smooth reflections, you need to keep the camera shutter open for some time. This is a kind of long exposure photography. Slow shutter speed is required. This will not only help you in getting clear reflections but will also capture all the drama in the sky. However, in case you are looking to use the puddles to show the city life, a fast shutter speed will be required to freeze the actions. The aperture will depend on the depth of field that you want in the image. In the case of mirror portraits, you will need a shallow depth of field. An aperture of f/2.8 should be good enough. In the case of cityscape reflections, f/8 seems a decent aperture to start with. Always keep the ISO to the minimum to avoid any sort of noise. Use manual focusing while shooting cityscapes and autofocusing while shooting your echo portraits. 


A tripod will be mandatory if you want the long exposure shots. In case of action shots, however, you can shoot handheld with fast shutter speeds. As a suggestion though, use of tripods can improve your images by some extent.

Composition and post-processing:

Reflection and symmetry need to go hand in hand. The rule of thirds need not be followed here. The reflection of the entire subject should be in sharp focus and this symmetry should be the primary attraction. No special post-processing skills are required to process your images. However if you want to improve the clarity of your reflection and introduce foreign elements, image editing skills will be required. Although that will be more of digital art than pure photography, such images do look unbelievably dreamy and surreal. 


Reflection photography is clichéd as on today’s date. However, all clichés can be broken into pieces and re-jumbled together to make a new art form!

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