Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nature's Mystical Mirrors

Capturing reflections on still water is one of the most beautiful and dramatic forms of landscape photography. When setting out to shoot reflections keep in mind that you may have to get into the water to capture the image from the best angle possible. So bring along some fishing waders and a waterproof tripod or an old one you don't care about. Know where you're going as well. Take reconnaissance walks to find good locations before you haul out your camera equipment. The best time of day for reflections is in the morning right before and after sunrise, so knowing where to set up shop before hand can put you in the right place at the right time. You don't want to be fumbling around in the dark for a spot that may turn out to be a poor one, so do some homework before hand. Look for places with wind barriers to keep the water calm during your photo shoot, these natural features like logs, exposed rocks and sandbars can also be incorporated into your photo. If you are shooting in shallow water lower the camera position so that the sand or gravel underwater doesn't blend into the reflection.
To shoot reflections you will need to utilize filters to capture the details of the shadows and highlighted areas. A polarizing filter should be used to darken the sky as much as possible which will result in the pool giving a more distinct reflection. A one-stop split neutral density filter can further reduce the brightness of the sky and bright landforms, bringing greater detail to the whole frame. Check the histogram to make sure it is centered and within 80% or less of the total width. A two-stop split neutral density filter may be needed to darken very bright skies or snowy mountains. If this is the case your reflection may be too bright as well, while the middle remains dark. Placing a one-stop split neutral density filter over the reflection while keeping the two-stop filter over the sky and snowy mountain will bring the shadow area in the middle within your cameras sensor range. This is called the filter squeeze just remember to angle your filters with your landscape and reflections.

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