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Reflections in Photography: A World to Explore

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In photography, one of the most interesting and fun things to capture and to experiment with are reflections. Whether in the city or out in nature, reflective surfaces are all around us. So why not use them for an extra level of interest in your travel photos? Let's see when and how to use reflections in photography and what may come out of it...

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Why photograph reflections?

There are multiple reasons to look for smooth and reflective surfaces around you in order to photograph them:

    • Use of reflections is one of the easiest ways to add interest to composition. Reflections can be vertical, horizontal, diagonal, multiple... so many choices! They will surely make your photos stand out!
    • Reflections also allow to add a foreground element, which is often helpful if you want to give your view an extra depth and visual richness.

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  • Uninteresting or distracting elements in the view may be "covered up" by reflections.
  • Reflective surfaces can be of any shapes and colours, and may therefore transform your photos into something quite unusual! They may distort the usual view in a fun or unexpected way or add another layer to it.

If these four reasons seem enough to use reflections in your images, let's give it a try and start experimenting!

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How to use reflections?

First of all, we need something to create a reflection. Look for large (or small) shiny surfaces, such as:

    • Water: a sea, a lake, a river, a bay, a puddle after the rain, a fountain, wet sidewalks, even a glass of water - anything works!

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    • Urban surroundings: search for large glass, steel, polished stone or mirror surfaces. These can be shop windows, cars, modern office buildings, monuments and many other objects.

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    • Bring your own: use a pocket mirror or a switched off smartphone: simply hold it in front of the lens, find the right angle and take a photo!

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Practical tips for using reflections

    • Composition: since reflections usually create symmetry, a centered composition often works well. If you photograph a skyline reflecting in the water, place the horizon right in the center of your photo: this will enhance the effect of a double view.
    • Use high depth of field (higher f-number) to make sure that both the view and its reflection are in focus.
    • Wide-angle lenses will produce visually stronger results than zoom lenses.
    • Transparent glass surfaces, such as shop windows, become "mirrors" if you come really close to them. Use shop windows for vertical reflections of a familiar street.

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Most importantly, have fun, explore and experiment, and share your photos of reflections with us!

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About the Author

Nadia Gric

Nadia Gric

Nadia is passionate about the visual aspect of life and the personalities she meets along the way. Living in the heart of Paris, Nadia never stops exploring the City of Light through her camera and readily shares her knowledge and love for photography.