Thursday, October 10, 2019

Photographing Reflections

One of my favorite things to photograph is reflections.  They can add beauty and interest to any photograph.
Lone Tree Reflected in Water photo by mbgphoto
The photograph  above shows reflections in a nearby lake.  It was taken early on a foggy morning.  In this post I will review reflection photography techniques and show you some of my results.

Where Can You Find Reflections

The good news is that reflections are everywhere.  As a photographer you just need to train your eyes and camera to look for them.  You can find reflections in water, metal, glass, ice and many other surfaces.  A rainy day when many people might avoid photography can also be a great time to photograph reflections.  

In researching tips for this article, I found many different ideas of how to shoot reflections.  In fact some were contradictory to each other.  So here is my best advice on taking reflections.

It matters more on how you look at things than the type of camera you use.  I have taken good reflections photos with my DSLR, a point and shoot and even my camera.  Train yourself to look for reflections in everything and Practice, Practice, Practice.  In doing this you will learn what works best for you.

Reflections on Water

Trees Reflected in Water photo by mbgphoto

Water reflections on a still, foggy morning can really add interest to your photograph.  As you can see in the photo above the air was very still and the water was like glass.

On the other hand a little movement in the water can add an interesting abstract quality to your photo as in the photos below.

Trees Reflected in Water photo by mbgphoto

Trees Reflected in Water photo by mbgphoto

Water reflections are also a great way to capture a different view of landmarks as you see in the photos below of the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
Gateway Arch in St. Louis Reflected in Water photo by mbgphotoGateway Arch and Trees Reflected in Water photo by mbgphoto

Reflections on Buildings

The cities are full of buildings  with lots of windows and other reflective materials.  When you are taking a photo of a scene take the time to look at the nearby buildings and catch the reflections in them.  In this photo, I was shooting the Old Courthouse in St. Louis.  I turned to go and noticed the reflection of the courthouse in the nearby building.  I think it gives an interesting look to the photo.
Reflection of the Old Courthouse in St. Louis photo by mbgphoto

Glass Reflections

Glass picks up lots of reflections.  As I looked in store windows in historic St. Charles, I noticed the interesting reflections I was getting of the street and historic buildings along with the items in store fronts.  I did have to be careful as I shot so I did not capture unwanted images in the reflections.
Historic Buildings Reflected in Current Day Store Windows photo by mbgphoto

Here is another interesting reflection in glass.  I was shooting a glass full of jelly beans.  When I look at the photo, I noticed the reflections of the jelly beans in the top half of the glass.  To enhance this look, I played with the sliders in Photoshop Lightroom to bring out the reflections.

Glass of Jelly Beans photo by mbgphoto

Unwanted Reflections

Did you ever take a photo and capture yourself reflected in the item you were photographing?  Sometimes this is good, but mostly it is unwanted.  To prevent this you need to be aware of items that will cause these images and move so that you will not be in the photo.  Here is a photo I took of some Mardi Gras ornaments and captured myself in one of the ornaments.  It was not the look I was after.
Christmas ornaments photo by mbgphoto

Enjoy Yourself and Experiment

I do think that getting great reflection photos is a matter of taking your time, looking at your surroundings and experimentation.  So relax, enjoy your self and happy shooting!!

Zazzle Products from My Reflection Photos

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. You always have excellent photography tips, Mary Beth. I especially love that reflection on the water on a foggy morning photo. I once wanted to take a picture of a cat sleeping in a store window in my daughter's St. Louis neighborhood, yet the sun was keeping me from being able to see inside the window with the camera. So my daughter and I stood directly in front of the image I wanted to capture (cat) and used our bodies as the reflection to block out the sun. It worked.

  2. While it is true, often I don't want reflections in glass, you have certainly presented several photos where the reflections add depth and interest to the photo. The store front window is an example of one I might not wish to capture, but would certainly appreciate once I really looked at it. I am also fascinated by the top photo. In the reflection in the water, I can see a park bench that I never would have picked up on in the fog. Very cool! The court house in the building windows is also really awesome! This isn't the first time I have seen your photo of the St. Louis Arch reflected in the water, but it is just as beautiful now as it was when I first viewed it. All of your photos are lovely.

  3. This review is just what I needed to see. While away on holiday, I managed to take a beautiful picture of the clouds reflected on the lake we were hiking. It was an accident, but a very happy one indeed! I will have to keep my eyes open to what I see and what there really is to see. Thanks for this Mary Beth. I may yet be a photographer of sorts.

  4. Gorgeous photos! I've never sought out reflection photos, but I sure will now. Absolutely love the ones you've featured. Like you said, we need to train our eye to see them. I've never considered them in photos, yet when we see them, we're in awe. I'm going to be trying this.

  5. Mary Beth, such beautiful photos! I have always noticed reflections - whether the unintended reflections in photos that others take or in trying to get reflections in my own photos. Your article encourages me to keep trying to improve my photography skills.

  6. Love that courthouse reflection and composition. Thanks for the great tips, as I truly enjoy photographing all kinds of reflections. I do have a reflective photo of the Arch.

  7. I agree I absolutely love photos with reflections. (Except when taking a food photo and I end up in the photo because of a reflection!)

  8. I always enjoy your beautiful photos! I love all of these and can't pick a favorite (although I tried!). Thanks for the tips and inspiration!


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