How to Photograph Reflections

Reflection of surrounding paintings in mirror at the Palace of Versailles, FranceCanon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series lens @ 24mm. Exposure Details: 1/25 second @ f4.8 ISO 400.

Ever wanted to photograph a reflection? How about a warmly lit, snow-capped mountain top reflected in a tarn or stream? What about the reflection of a bride in a mirror at the family home on her wedding day? These are just a few examples of interesting and visually dynamic opportunities that reflections offer the enthusiastic photographer.

The above photo was made at the Palace of Versailles, France. After noticing the ornate nature of the frames I was drawn to the scene by the reflections projected into the mirror from paintings on the surrounding walls and ceiling. 

The warm/cool color contrast between the golden frames and blue sky added and extra visual element to the scene. I positioned myself in such a way to bring a sense of harmony to what would otherwise be an overly complicated scene.

The trick when photographing a reflection is not to allow your camera's lens to focus on the surface, whether it be glass or water. The reflection is actually occurring beneath the surface so, to ensure it remains sharp, be sure to focus on it.

If you fail to do so it will be the scum floating on the water or smears on the surface of the glass that will draw the attention of the viewer, rather than the beauty or mystery below.

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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru