Thursday, July 10, 2014

Reflecting on Reflections

Photographing reflections can be fun and produce some very interesting results. It can also be some of the most challenging photography you can do. How many times have you taken what you think is a really cool photo only to find yourself staring back at you in the image? An unintended selfie! So the first piece of advice I have is to look at the subject you are about to photo...I mean really look. Is there a selfie in the making? Move around...left, right, up, down to get the image you want without you being an unintended part of the shot. Once you think you have just the right angle, look again through the viewfinder of your camera.

I use two methods to photograph reflections, a simple manual focus and the other manual focus with f stop adjustment. You remember manual focus, right? Auto focus is great in most cases, but when photographing reflections you will drive your camera, and yourself, crazy trying to get the right focal point. Solution? Switch it off and go manual. 

Image A                                            © David Toczko
This first set of images was taken using just the manual focus method. For Image A, I focused on the window glass to get the reflection of the building across from it. A shallow depth of field, using an f stop of 4.0, made the contents on display in the window out of focus and gave the image a whimsical look. Standing in the same position and still at f 4.0, Image B was focused on the contents on display. This caused the reflection to be slightly out of focus and not detract from the merchandise. * NOTE I used aperture priority to control the depth of field, but to also compensate for difference in brightness of the two by having the camera adjust the shutter speed.  
Image B                                             © David Toczko
 The second set of images employed the manual focus AND f stop adjustment technique. Once again, I manually focused on the surface of the water and, by adjusting the f stop, controlled the depth of field and characteristics of the reflection. These were also shot using aperture priority to control the exposure.
Image C                             f 2.8                           © David Toczko

Image D                             f 4.0                           © David Toczko

Image E                             f 5.6                           © David Toczko

This final set of images used the first method described above, shot in total manual mode and a slightly different focal length from the same position.

Image F                              1/100                        © David Toczko

Image G                             1/200                           © David Toczko

David Toczko is a freelance, commercial photographer and author of several award winning coffee table books of photography. He teaches both basic and advanced photography classes at his local college as well as holds photography seminars throughout the year. For additional examples of his work, visit his web site. For information on seminars and purchasing his work, contact him here.

*All text and photographs contained in this article are copyrighted 2014 David Toczko