Artistic Photo Trick: Capturing Reflections in Rippled Water

Yesterday, professional photographer Efrain Padro shared his trick on using your zoom lens for artistic effect. (If you missed that one, you can find it here.

Today, Efrain’s back -- this time, with a tip on shooting reflections with an Impressionistic twist.

And, if you thought you needed water to capture a reflection, think again. I’ve included a bonus tip for you below...

By Efrain Padro in Santa Fe, NM

I use this trick to make a truly artistic shot from a reflection. What you’ll need...

*** Your camera
*** An interesting subject
*** Rippled water

Find a nice reflection of an interesting subject. For maximum effect, the water should be rippled, not still.

Then, instead of photographing the subject and its reflection, photograph the reflection only. Of course, you’ll get an upside-down image.

When time comes to process the image, simply flip it, so it looks as though it were captured right-side up.

Here’s how my “Impressionistic” version of the charming town of Bruges, Belgium, worked out:

Now, go find some water, and try it yourself!

[EDITOR’S NOTE: You don’t always need water to capture a reflection. Fellow reader, Dawn-Marie Hanrahan, wrote in with a similar trick using reflections

She stopped her car to capture a dramatic sky with her point-and-shoot camera. She didn’t have her tripod, so she balanced her camera on the top of her car to avoid shake. Much to her surprise, the image reflected off her dusty hood, creating the illusion of a lake in the foreground of her snapshot, rather than the real-life parking lot.

Take a look at her photo, here:

(To illustrate the difference, here’s what the scene looked like without the “lake:”  )

And, Dawn isn’t alone. At a San Francisco workshop some years back, I found myself without my tripod during an evening shoot. Like Dawn, I improvised and used a car hood to capture this landmark shot:

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4 responses to “Artistic Photo Trick: Capturing Reflections in Rippled Water”

  1. Robert Briggs

    I loved all the photos I am glad I don't have to judge which is the best one!
    Robert Briggs Harriman TN.

  2. marie tully

    really loved these photos great idea

  3. David Able

    Love the concept of the reflection off a car hood. I wonder if a sheet of black (ridged) plastic (or similar material) might work too as a prop possibly offering a similar effect. I'll have to try it.

    Funds keep me from traveling with all of you on your many adventures but I keep in constant contact with all of the letters of photographers and writers. Well maybe God will grant me photography adventures in the next life.

  4. Ian Carter

    This technique is good for eliminating unattractive backgrounds, particularly shooting reflections on water. Because the water is at or below ground-level, your subject will appear against the sky.

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