Composition Tips For Water Reflection Photography
Water reflection photography is a great way to add visual excitement to not only amazing landscapes but reflections can be a shortcut to add “artistic impact” if the subject matter happens to be a bit ordinary. There are no rules for reflection photography but these are a few ways to create eye-catching compositions:
#1. place the horizon in the middle of the frame; best if a mirror image can be created. #2. only place the reflection into the frame, so the original subject being reflected is absent – this can result in highly creative, abstract or surreal photographs.
#3. is same as #2 but rotate the image 180 degrees so it is upside down as seen in the image below – this composition may not be so obvious to interpret and can confuse the viewer which is not always a bad thing.
Upside down, creative water reflection photography of Vietnamese village
One of the most creative ways to use reflection photography is by not including the subject being reflected in the composition and rotating the final image 180 degrees so it is upside down. This visual trick can result in eye-catching images that may seem like they were Photoshopped together from two separate photos.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that the tree entering from the left, branches out right at the top left grid cross-hair. The two bottom crosshairs almost perfectly mark the tops of the houses. All these major compositional elements being at their optimal places make this photo in accordance with The Golden Ratio.
Water reflection travel photography of Vietnamese woman washing laundry
When it comes to travel photography gear, there is one universal rule: the photographer can never have a lens that is too wide angle. Vietnamese woman washing laundry in the morning in Kenh Ga village.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that the horizon rests on the top grid line, and the bottom grid line marks the clothes being washed, the body of the woman and the large silver washing bowl. All points of interest in the composition are in place according to The Golden Ratio.
Reflection photography of Vietnamese woman and circular water ripples
I always try to remember – no matter how quickly a scene changes or how unlikely the subject – to shoot pictures in both landscape and portrait formats. Months or years later, there could be different uses and mediums for the photographs that will require different aspect ratios and formats.
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral, we can see that the circular water ripples have a very noticeable aesthetic effect. Some viewers may find that no matter where they look in the composition, their eyes follow these ripples, guiding their attention back to the main subject. The main subject is not only at the end of the Fibonacci spiral, but would also be at a grid crosshair, if we superimposed a Rule Of Thirds lines.
Water reflection travel photography of half submerged boats in Kenh Ga, Vietnam
An interesting juxtaposition of half submerged boats and water reflections of houses and trees across the river. The image could have been even more interesting if there were clouds in the sky, that would have been reflected from the water in the boats.
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral, we see how the boats follow the curving line of the spiral, ending at the most visually dominant, large building. Although the flow depicted by the Fibonacci spiral is not really visible without the spiral, the original image does have a – somewhat hidden – balance and is in accordance to The Golden Ratio.
Mirror reflection photography of cement house and tree in Vietnamese village
Mirror reflection photography is best utilized when there is a large amount of flat water available. The way I centered this composition was by having the top of the tree just touch the top and bottom edges of the frame.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that the grid intersections mark a few important visual reference points in this geometric composition. Top left and bottom left crosshairs mark where the tree trunk branches out, the top right and bottom right crosshairs mark the very center of the porch and balcony area. The top grid line perfectly halves the house and the left grid line perfectly halves the tree.
There are a lot of strong lines and effective geometry in this composition which is clearly is in accordance to The Golden Ratio.
Water reflection photography of tree branches in Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral for this composition may not be 100% fitting but the Rule Of Thirds grid would not be applicable – and the composition in my opinion is according to The Golden Ratio. The thickest branches are at the end of the spiral and the composition branching out does follow the spiral, at least when it is overlaid.
Water reflection landscape photography of limestone mountains and pond
Vietnam is a travel photographer’s paradise as even not too far from touristy areas it is possible to find total privacy and amazing landscapes. Due to the foreground, which I wanted to include, I was not able to create a true mirror reflection composition.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that none of the grid lines or grid intersections really correspond with any of the points of interest of the composition. Nevertheless, I consider this a balanced and visually pleasant composition so the moral of the story here is that the Rule Of Thirds is a guide but its absence will not ruin photographs.
Water reflection travel photography of limestone mountains
A distant limestone in the early morning haze is being reflected in a winding waterway. There are some interesting curved and straight lines that – in my eyes – make this a painting-like composition.
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral, we can see how a mountain with curves creates an oval shape, which is not really a common shape in landscape photography.
Water reflection street photography of house and pond in Vietnamese village
A quiet and beautiful scene – at least for a travel photographer from a faraway land – unfolded in front of me as I was riding my bicycle through a small Vietnamese village outside Ninh Binh.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that there is nothing really along grid lines or at grid intersections. But the strong geometric nature of the composition and the off-center placement of the main house ensures a balanced and visually pleasant composition, even though the Rule Of Thirds was not observed.
Mirror reflection travel photography of woman washing dishes
This quaint little village of Kenh Ga, which is mostly famous for boat tours among beautiful limestone mountains, was a perfect reflection photography destination. The river which cuts thorough the village is an integral part of life here so a simple stroll down the river bank provided countless photographic opportunities.