This two-part article by Philip Dunn first appeared in his column in Amateur Photographer Magazine.
PHOTOGRAPHING REFLECTIONS IN TOWN
When we are taking photographs in town, reflected images seem to be everywhere we look, even more so in our modern cities with their glass-sided office towers. There are reflections in shop
windows, pools and puddles – even the polished paintwork of cars can reflect interesting images worth photographing.
These days architects have a fixation with shiny stainless steel surfaces – take a look at the outside Birmingham’s New Street Station, for instance – it’s a gift for photographers.
Intriguing contrasts can be created when these new shiny buildings reflect older architecture.
PHOTOGRAPHING REFLECTIONS ON WATER
Perfectly still water can mirror buildings, people and landscape, but lightly rippled water can sometimes produce even more interesting photographs – back to those abstracts again.
I try to persuade my students not to get too hung-up with the importance of depth of field, but it really is a vital factor to consider when photographing reflections, and, for maximum depth, the smallest appropriate aperture should be used. It is not just the object reflecting the image that needs to be in focus, but the reflection itself, which could be some distance away.
For maximum depth of field, focus on a spot about one third the way between the nearest (the reflector) and the furthest (the reflected images) points which need to be sharp. The depth of field preview button on your camera can be very useful for checking that everything will be in focus.
With most reflections, except those on metal surfaces, a polarising filter can intensify the colours and clarify the reflected image. It does this by removing indirect light reflections. In effect, the polarising filter removes the ‘film’ of reflected light from the surface of the reflector (the water surface), so increasing the clarity of the reflected image.