Introduction: Mirror Images: Making the Most of Reflections

I've always loved looking at reflected images. Reflections are like the other side of the story, and sometimes they actually present more of the story, as when clouds are revealed in the water that may not be visible to the naked eye, or when you get a fresh perspective on the thing being reflected.

Capturing reflections in a meaningful and useful way in photographic images can be challenging, but also very artistically rewarding!

Step 1: Using Mirrors As Reflective Frames

Mirrors are a good place to start, when exploring reflections. In this particular image, the mirror acted as a frame to the image of the parasol, captured at a local Renaissance Festival. Mirrors can also come in handy for portraits - getting a baby to look at someone with a camera is one thing. Getting a baby to look at a reflection is another - and can provide a handy way to get a nice fun expression.

Step 2: Glass Buildings As Mirrors in the Sky

Mirrors can be small or mirrors can be really big, like glass walled buildings. Effects can be straightforward, like the palm trees, or more abstract, like the clouds on the skyscraper. You can come in close and eliminate all frames of reference, as with the palm trees, capturing only the reflected image. Or you can frame your mirrored images with some clues for context, like showing the the tops of the buildings and some fringes of palms in the photo of the reflected clouds.

Step 3: The Art of Broken Reflections

Look for reflections in unusual places - this glass mosaic on the outer wall of an art museum fractured the reflections of the cityscape behind the photographer, but tells a story, too, of the puzzle pieces of the urban landscape.

Step 4: Reflections for Ambience

Reflections can tell a lot of different stories. The beach balls floating in quiet reflection on the still water , a little bit in shadow, suggest perhaps, a recently ended day at the pool. Or maybe the quiet before the splash.

Step 5: Reflections for Abstract Art Effects

Sometimes, especially when you're near water, you can start by looking down, and seeing what there is to see.

Reflections can be their own art, as with the abstract image of the Great White Egret, looking almost like a water color image - which it sort of is! The palm tree looks almost like it could have been shot straight up, at the actual palm, but in fact, it's a very clear reflection of a tall palm. The slight waviness of the trunk and some of the fronds are the biggest clues, but the whole thing again creates this soft water color effect.

The image of the curved root, reflected in the still water along with other reflections of leaves and branches, creates something of a heart shaped image in the center and the great spots of blue from the reflected sky, throughout.

Step 6: Reflections Revealing the Unseen

Sometimes water will act as a polarizing filter and reveal things you can't see otherwise. In this Everglades shot, an enormous amount of cloud detail was evident in the water than could be seen in the sky. Look up and down for the most revealing images.

Step 7: Reflections That Change Perspective

You can also use reflections to change the perspective of an image. In the first shot, the dark clouds mirrored at the horizon, with the angled parallel shorelines, almost eliminate the horizon altogether, and create a sense of water road of infinity.

The glassy reflection of the treeline in the creek, with the bridge in the back, creates almost more of an image of a foot path than a creek bed.

Step 8: Mirror Images in Nature

Mirror images can also just be fun for the pure symmetry of the phenomenon. In both of these images, you almost flip the images upside down and get the same photo.

Step 9: Reflections in Lenses

Glass, mirrors and water are pretty obvious sources of reflections. But there are other shiny, reflective surfaces that can provide some interesting photographic opportunities. Fresnel lenses in lighthouses are striking by themselves, but the inverted images within their depths make for some nice shots, too. And I was so taken by the reflections in this cow's eye, where you can see clouds and pasture and trees,, the scope of the cow's world in the lens of her eye.

Step 10: Reflecting on the Possibilities

Reflections offer yet another opportunity to expand photographic horizons, adding depth and texture to everything from landscapes to portraits, and providing fresh perspectives on otherwise ordinary images.

Happy Imaging!

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