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How To Photograph Reflections in Nature – Part 1 – ‘Get Down & Dirty’

How To Photograph Reflections in Nature – Part 1 – ‘Get Down & Dirty’

This is part one of a series of tips on how to make visually stunning photos of reflections in your nature photography.  It is a follow up to my wildly popular (LOL) article The Power of Reflection.  Upon re-reading the Power of Reflection I was somewhat ironically forced to reflect upon the almost complete lack of practical tips for aspiring landscape and nature photographers in that article – hence this short series of posts came about.

So here’s my first tip for photographing reflections – be willing at all times to get up close and personal with the ground when pursuing reflections in your images.  Sometimes you have got to go low in the quest for a great reflection.

How low? It totally depends – but you should be willing to go lower than a pimped out gangsta-mobile and lie like a flat fish if it makes for a better photo.

Going low vastly increases the scope of possibilities for making reflection images – this works in a couple of ways.

Firstly, if you are willing to grovel around in the dirt and mud you are able to utilise much smaller reflective surfaces for making mirror images.  Small ponds and dirty old puddles may look like something to crop out of your shot when viewed at standing height, but this same puddle may transform into a silvery reflecting pond when viewed from near ground level – check it out in this image of Aoraki Mt Cook.

The pond in this shot was actually no more than a glorified puddle about 3 inches in depth.  Getting low achieved two things in this photo firstly it transformed a small puddle into a reflecting pond for New Zealand’s tallest mountain.  Secondly it allowed me control over the placement of gravel bank that runs through the centre of shot.  From standing height the gravel killed all reflection of Aoraki Mt Cook.

Aoraki Mt Cook Reflection Lake Pukaki New Zealand

Aoraki / Mt Cook Reflected in Seasonal Pond. Lake Pukaki New Zealand

Secondly, the lower the camera position the larger the reflected image area will be – this means that you can include more reflected elements into your shot.  The image below of Mitre Peak, Milford Sound is a good example of this principle at work.

This shot would not have happened without getting my knees wet. From standing position the reflected clouds would not have been in shot. The additional benefit of getting low is that you have scope to include additonal elements to a shot – in this case the reflection defines the sand ripples in the shot.

Sunset Milford Sound Mitre Peak Fiordland Reflection New Zealand

Sunset Reflection. Mitre Peak, Milford Sound Fiordland New Zealand


Finally, practicing getting low is critical because it gives you creative options and control over the nature of how a reflection is represented in your image.  I think it is always good practice to try new angles and new view points in a scene.  Like all things photographic – getting low is not compulsory and it is by no means always appropriate (or desirable) – but you should be willing to have it in your repertoire.

Thanks for reading this – if it was of interest please spread the word – tell someone else (it can be lonely out here on the internet :)

Next up – not all reflections are mirror images…..

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