What is Reflection Photography?

Reflection photography, also referred to as mirror photography, is when you use reflective surfaces to create an artistic echo of a scene. This type of photography can add an interesting spin to locations that are hotspots for photographers such as oceans, lakes, puddles, and even rain drops. They’re all subjects that are commonly used to create brilliant reflection photographs. Of course, less traditional resources such as metal, tiles, mirrors and anything with a shiny surface can also be easily incorporated into this type of photography. Read below to learn some of my best tips for mastering the glorious art that is reflection photography.

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Quick Tip
If you need some inspiration to get you started, check out BeFunky’s Pinterest page.

Scout out The Right Location

The most common reflective surface is water, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to only water-based locations. Reflection photography can be created anywhere with a little forethought. Even if you didn’t set out with the intention of creating reflective photography, it can be inspiring to take a moment to look for reflective surfaces.

Arrive at the location early enough to check out cloud coverage and the sun’s position. Since reflection photography is all about the light reflecting off of objects, these are important aspects to take into consideration before shooting. Observe your surroundings for any polished surfaces that catch the eye. As the sun moves across the sky, note how the angles may change. Sometimes photographing the same location at different times of day can give you different results.

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Quick Tip
Once you uncover a good location, take the time to view it from different angles and find the best approach.

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Use the Best Equipment for the Job

Having the right equipment on hand makes any photography job easier. Become familiar with your equipment, bring a manual and your cell phone as reference materials. When you encounter problems in the field, Google can be your best friend. Here’s a list of 10 great photography accessories under $50, if you’re working with a tight budget. BeFunky’s Pinterest also has a spiffy board devoted to all kinds of gorgeous cameras, if that’s your kind of thing.

Equipment: 

  • DSLR Camera
  • Wide Angle Lens (recommended but not necessary)
  • Tripod
  • Shutter Release Cable
  • Camera Bag
  • Cell Phone

Technically, any lens will work for reflection photography, though a wide angle lens will allow you to capture more in your image. You may find that a zoom or a fixed lens may be better suited for the job though, depending on what you plan to photograph, so it’s a good idea to keep a couple of different lenses on hand. It’s also worth it to invest in a high quality fixed lens, a zoom lens and a wide angle lens.

Props are also a great way to breathe new life into overly photographed areas. For instance, a glass orb can be placed in variety of locations to create a spherical reflection. Use a small rice bag or bean bag to hold the orb in place while you shoot. Antique handheld mirrors are also a great prop to bring a whimsical feel into the frame.

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Quick Tip
When all else fails, check out your local antique store or flea market for reflective surfaces. Even your cell phone can be turned in to a prop by turning it off and using the screen.

Master your Camera Settings

It’s takes a combination of creative juices and technical know-how to master the art of photography.

Reflection photography isn’t much different from landscape photography. There are a few things to take into consideration before shooting. For instance, wind will affect  calm bodies of water —if the water is rippling, then the reflection is going to be blurry. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it will show up as more of an abstract reflection. Early morning with an overcast sky is the ideal condition for water reflections.

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When working with water based reflections, you want the whole landscape to be in focus, even though the reflection should be the focal point. Switch the camera into aperture priority mode with a small aperture of f/14 or smaller. Use the lowest ISO settings that will still allow for a shutter speed of 1/50 or faster, and perform fine-tuning adjustments until the desired result is achieved.

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Quick Tip
For some additional guidance, check out our post on Understanding The Art Of Exposure.

Composition and Editing

First things first, throw the rule of thirds out the window. Reflection photography is composed with  subject matter all over the place. The point of the reflection is to create an echo effect, so the subject doesn’t need to be off center in order for it to be interesting. Leveling the horizon and placing it in the center of the image will help give the piece symmetry—a design principle which always accentuates your photos.

For all the images that didn’t quite hit the mark on the camera, there is always the magic of…*drumroll*…post-processing! BeFunky has got your back with their awesome Photo Editor tool. You won’t be disappointed with all the features available to crop, enhance and do just about anything your heart desires in the editing department.

For instance, adjusting bad lighting with BeFunky is simple as heading to the Exposure section, where you can do everything from making your photos light, bright and airy to correcting low-light photos and more:

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Quick Tip
If you’re looking to make manual adjustments to your exposure, you can also use the Levels tool to give your photos a little extra touch of drama.

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