Simple tips to take great reflection pictures when traveling

One on my favourite photography techniques is to capture reflections. The beauty of reflection photography is that it can provide a new perspective on an old subject, and if well composed can bring a pleasing sense of symmetry and balance to an image. There are a number of mediums that can be used to create a beautiful reflective image including water, glass, mirrors, and polished metal surfaces. The greatest bonus of using reflections in your travel photography is that it moves away from the cliché tourist site photos and allows the creation of a more unique arty image. 

 
 Mobile reflection, fuel tanker somewhere in Arizona, USA. Canon EOS 600D, 55mm, ISO 100, f10, 1/250sec.

Mobile reflection, fuel tanker somewhere in Arizona, USA. Canon EOS 600D, 55mm, ISO 100, f10, 1/250sec.

 

What girl doesn't like big shiny things? Okay, so a big metal fuel tanker may not been what you had in mind, but this is one of my favourite pictures from my most recent US road trip. The reflection of the Arizona landscape on the shiny metallic rear end of the tanker was a great opportunity to take a selfie (of sorts anyway). If you haven't already guessed, this was taken through the windscreen of a car. Rule number #2 when on the road always ensure you have a clean windscreen, it's really not just for the benefit of the driver. If you're wandering about rule number one? Well, it’s always find good coffee, a road trip is not a road trip without coffee. Anyway, I digress, ideally use a zoom lens to enable a safe traveling distance for taking this kind of shot, and ensure that the driver is focused on what they are doing. This kind of picture is all about being in the right place at the right time and always having your camera on hand and ready when travelling. Bright light also helps to ensure that the landscape in the reflection is well lit to capture the detail, and to enable a fast shutter speed to prevent motion blur (remember you are dealing with two moving objects). What more could one ask for than a giant, flammable mobile mirror - simply a travel togs delight!

 
 Car side mirror reflection, Canon EOS 600D; ISO 200, f5.6, 1/250sec.

Car side mirror reflection, Canon EOS 600D; ISO 200, f5.6, 1/250sec.

Mirrors are a really fun medium for capturing reflections. The great thing about smaller mirrors is that they are portable and can be used to create a reflection when there isn't any other pre-existing reflective surfaces. Using the side view mirrors of a car is a novel idea that I picked up off of a travel buddy and has since become something of a road trip tradition. It does pay to put the window down when taking these kind of pictures to prevent any unwanted reflections, then it's just a matter of focusing on the mirror and taking the photo. Adjusting the angle of mirror can help to compose a better image, if required and a faster shutter speed can be used to prevent motion blur (if moving). The above image was taken from a stationary vehicle with a shallow depth of field (f5.6) to give a blur to the background outside of the mirror.

 
 Minlaton, South Australia. Salt water wetlands reflection. Cannon EOS 600D, 50mm, ISO 100, f11, 1/200sec.

Minlaton, South Australia. Salt water wetlands reflection. Cannon EOS 600D, 50mm, ISO 100, f11, 1/200sec.

 

This image was taken at a small seasonal wetland area in South Australia's Yorke Peninsula. I had been up early to try and get a sunrise image of a canola crop in full bloom, which I just couldn't get right. Not wanting to write off the morning completely I was driving around looking for something else of interest and realised that the land, and sky was reflecting perfectly on the calm waters of the wet lands. It was just lucky that the conditions were right to get a good reflection on the water. To get a clear reflection a still body of water is required, this could be a lake, dam, or even a puddle. Calm weather is important to prevent ripples, and use of a faster shutter speed will also help to prevent any movement. The reflections tend to be stronger when the sun is at a lower angle in the sky, as such, early morning, or late evening are the best times to capture great water reflections. Choose a small aperture to support a greater depth of field, and keep all of the image in focus, meter off the brighter areas of the water to achieve a good exposure. A tripod may also be required to help ensure tack sharp focus.

 

I have provide some examples of reflection photography using different techniques and mediums, now it's time to get out and about and have a go at some reflection photography. Join the Lensing about Australia Travel Togs private group and share your images to the reflection album, I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with. Happy snapping!