Reflections of you

“The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.” – William Makepeace Thackeray

“Reflections” is the subject of the next readers Photo Challenge assignment. A reflection can add visual twist to an otherwise ordinary scene. You can use a reflection as a compositional element in your photos. You can use it to create symmetry or you can also make it asymmetrical the choice is yours.

A mirror is the obvious choice for a reflection photo. You can use one to not only capture the plane than the mirror is on but the scene that is reflected within it as well. In September I shot an assignment about high-end homes in the Lodi area. I toured a house for sale with a relator Ryan Sherman and homeowner Phil Crane. Situated in a corner of the master bedroom was a full-length mirror. I was able to capture some of the furniture and ambiance of that corner as well as the realtor and owner in the mirror to make a more complete picture than either scene alone.

It doesn’t have to be an actual mirror to make your reflections, almost any shiny surface will do. From a car window or hood. It tends to work best if whatever surface you use is a dark color. If it’s a window on the building it’s also best if the inside is darker than the outside then the reflections will show up better. Last August I photographed a car show at the Lincoln Center shopping center in Stockton. I spotted a sweet 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air. Its deep black paint was polished to a mirror-like sheen and reflected a motorcycle parked beside it. I just waited for a car enthusiast to come along and take a look at the car and –voila!- a reflection photo!

Standing water also can make for great reflection photos. From a still lake or river to a rain puddle the reflective surface of nearly any kind of body of water can act like a mirror. You have to be sure to shoot on a nearly windless day or find a spot that’s protected from the wind. Even a slight breeze can disturb the water and cause the reflected image to break up.

I recently shot a sailboat on the deepwater channel near Buckley Cove in Stockton. The wind was nearly non-existent, so much so that the boat was moving at slower than a walking pace. While it wasn’t great for sailing, it was an advantage for taking pictures, though. The reflection in the water was almost perfect with only slight ripples caused by the slow movement of the boat.

Any reflection will transmit less light than the original so it will be darker than what is reflecting. Also it won’t be as sharp as the original scene. Even using a mirror there is a slight loss of sharpness. With shiny surfaces there are bound to be some imperfections. Whether its some bumps or pits or a curved surface there will be some distortions but don’t fret that’s ok.

Water, glass, polished stone or a mirror, whatever surface you choose isn’t as important as using the reflection to enhance the composition of your photo.


Here are the rules:

1. Entries can be emailed to Type in “Reflections” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between Mar. 17 and Mar. 30.

3. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (ie: “Weber Avenue in downtown Stockton.”)

4. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown).

5. The subject can be a found situation or a created one.

6. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

7. The deadline for submission is Sunday, March 30. The top examples will be published on Monday, April 7 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day.

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  • Blog Author

    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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