In this tutorial you’ll learn how to shoot reflections and photograph the world with a new perspective!

It’s very easy to get stuck shooting the same object over and over again, especially when you’re shooting in the city you live in. Even when shooting landmarks, landscapes or city skylines it can look boring and really basic.

That’s why in this tutorial you’ll learn when to shoot with reflections if the conditions are right. The Eiffel Tower in a puddle, a big mountain glowing in a still lake. Reflections can be a really fun way to shoot anything!

Camera position and conditions for shooting reflections

When shooting reflections you need to aim for a low camera angle to catch the best shot. Whereas the weather conditions, it’s ideal to be sunny with a cloud or two in the reflections. 

Best camera settings

1. Set a small aperture

Usually, you’ll want a decent amount of depth of field when shooting reflections to get it all crisp sharp and in focus. Around f/11 – f/16 is ideal.

2. Set your shutter speed

There are two areas of thought when it comes to shutter speed. Shooting with a fast shutter speed ensures that you don’t capture any movement in the water (or anything that you’re using as reflection area) that may spoil your shot. But when using a slow shutter you will capture more soft and subtle reflections. What you choose is up to you and the photo you’re trying to achieve.

When it’s cloudy or grey outside a slow shutter speed will make your reflections all the more dramatic. The longer exposure will flatten out the ripples in the water and smooth things over making the photo more impressive.

3. Set your ISO

If you went for a faster shutter speed in step 2, it’s likely here that you’ll want to increase your ISO value. The higher sensitivity will allow you to work at faster shutter speeds; however, just be aware that the higher you creep up the scale, the more noise you introduce to your images.

If you are working with longer exposures and using a tripod, it’s worth using your lowest possible ISO value in order to keep your images noise-free.

4. Use and ND filter

An ND restricts the light coming through your lens, allowing you to shoot at slower shutter speeds in brighter conditions. You could use an ND filter in daytime, for instance, in order to get a slower shutter speed to smooth over water.

5. Shoot at golden hours

If you photograph reflections at the golden hours they will look all the more impressive because sun is at a low angle in the sky, producing more dramatic light.

Try avoiding shooting at mid-day because that’s when the sun is at its highest peak at that time and the lightning is really harsh. It will also wash out your reflections making them less dramatic.

 6. Set your white balance

Whether you’re shooting city lights at twilight or reflections in a pond in bright daylight, set your camera’s white balance to its Daylight pre-set to deepen the colour of that blue sky and warm up those city lights.

7. Use exposure composition

If you’re shooting a reflection under city lights, don’t forget to dial in a little underexposure to reproduce the dark conditions!

If you’re taking your photo during the day you may find that the bright reflections on the water trick your camera into underexposing.

In some cases this may not be a bad thing, as a little underexposure can help deepen the saturation of your colours. But keep an eye on the situation and increase the exposure compensation if necessary.