- Bryan Peterson's Understanding Composition Field Guide
- Bryan Peterson's Understanding Photography Field Guide
- Understanding Flash Photography
- Beyond Portraiture: Creative People Photography
- Understanding Close-Up Photography: Creative Close Encounters with Or Without a Macro Lens
- Understanding Shutter Speed: Creative Action and Low-Light Photography Beyond 1/125 Second
- Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
On average, at least in my experience, every photographer will report that they shot their first reflection within 3 months of owning their camera and more often than not, the reflection they speak about usually involves a large body of water, such as a pond or lake. Why are most of us drawn to reflections, at least initially, such as those found in a lake or pond? Perhaps it is because of the emotional calm that often radiates from these types of reflections, than again, it may simply be that the scene is made TWICE as beautiful, thanks to the mirroring effect of the reflection before us. Reflections on lakes and ponds are soothing and it's fair to say that they are relatively easy to compose, and they do afford one the opportunity to break the rules of compositional thirds, demanding that you place that horizon line right through the middle of the frame.
Nikon D-300S, Nikkor 12-24mm F/11 @ 1/30 second 200 ISO
Last summer, while conducting a workshop in Glacier National Park, my students and myself were rewarded with a vivid sunrise at Lake McDonald. A soothing reflection no doubt. Over the years, I have certainly shot my share of these types of reflections and as nice as they are to shoot and look at, I am of the mind to turn my attention to those other reflections that are far from obvious and over the past few years, I have been paying particular attention to reflections on cars; cars that are parked, I should add!
The challenge of shooting 'car reflections' is not so much in finding a decent and/or compelling reflection. Heck, all one has to do is keep a look out for dark, if not black painted cars that are parked on the street and make it a point to do so on sunny days, in morning or afternoon light preferably.
As you scan the car's hood, doors, bumpers or wheels, you will see reflections of nearby buildings in the cars and with a willingness to now look at these reflections with various lens choices and altering points of view, (in other words, "work" the subject before you) it won't be long until you find yourself exuding a few "wow's" as in "Wow! How cool does this shot ever look! And to think it is a reflection taken from a black Jetta!"
The black parked Jetta was quick to reflect the early morning frontlight that was hitting the brick buiding it was parked next to in New York City. With my Nikon D300S and 24mm-85mm lens, I made quick work of the 'abstract' which is often the case when shooting reflections on cars. FILL THE FRAME with just the reflection and be 'brave' enough to turn the camera at any angle and get in close, assuring that the reflection and ONLY the reflection fills the frame and thus emphasizing the 'abstract'. And after the shoot, be 'brave' once again and consider 'flipping' the image during processing and see if showing it upside down or sideways doesn't emphasize the abstract even further. Here are one examples from this quick morning shoot.
Nikon D300S-Nikkor 24-85mm at 24mm, f/22 @ 1/50 second, 200 ISO
If car reflections can be found in New York City, then certainly they must exist elsewhere? Here are two more; one from Hoorn Holland and the other from the Left Bank in Paris. I have circled that one area where each of the 'abstract' images came from. In both cases, again, I have made it a point to fill the frame with nothing but 'abstract'.
Hoorn, Holland-Nikon D300S-Nikkor 70-300mm lens, f/16 @ 1/60 second, 200 ISO
Left Bank-Paris, France
Nikon D300S-Nikkor 70-300mm F/16 @ 1/60 second, 200 ISO
If there is any real advice I can offer when shooting reflections on cars, it is this: be ready to explain yourself to the car owner's when he or she shows up and demands to know "What the h*!! are you doing around my car!?" Thankfully, most of us are using digital camera's these days so we can be quick to explain and SHOW the hysterical owner of the car WHY we were seen pointing our camera's at it and with any luck, your answer and your pictures will be bring the necessary calm to the scene so everyone involved can go back to believing that the world we live in is indeed filled with photographic opportunity at every turn!
All My Best,
Bryan F Peterson