Whenever I’m taking photos with my iPhone, I’m always on a lookout for something interesting and unusual that would make my pictures stand out. Quite often I find that in unusual reflections, which always add an interesting dimension to otherwise simple photos. Reflections are responsible for many of my favorite and most popular photos. In this article, I will explain how I created some of these reflection shots.
In order to create a reflection photo, you must first find an appropriate surface that is glossy and reflects light. Water (and wet surfaces in general) produce some of the most beautiful reflections, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find them elsewhere. Glass, mirrors, metal surfaces and shiny cars can all be used to your advantage.
Even though any calm body of water will produce a great reflection, many of my favorite reflection shots come from puddles on the street. That is because most pictures of lakes and rivers, however beautiful, look more or less the same. However, there is always something new and interesting in the reflections you can find in simple street puddles.
Once I find a good reflection surface, I start exploring the scene. I walk around, squat, get higher or do whatever else I need to find the perfect perspective and composition.
Both of the images above were shot with my iPhone being just a few centimeters above the water. That way even a small puddle can look huge, and the image becomes more dramatic in general. Of course, you can also get interesting results shooting from other perspectives or even from the top of the puddle as seen below.
There are no hard rules in iPhoneography, so feel free to experiment with different perspectives and compositions. However, do pay attention to the subject of your image. Ask yourself what it is that you are capturing, and make sure to show that in an interesting way. The photo above would be rather boring without the lamppost, its main subject.
While puddles are great for taking interesting reflection photos, you can go beyond that with unusual wet-surface shots. Do you remember the last time the sun was shining shortly after rain? This does not happen too often, but when it does, every human-made surface is beaming with unusual light, just waiting for you to take spectacular iPhone photos.
Unlike in paddles, where the reflections are generally sharp, you can get less accurate and thus more interesting reflections on uneven surfaces after rain.
One of my favorite techniques shortly after rain is shooting against the source of light. This results in high-contrast scenes with beautiful silhouettes. These images are particularly interesting if the light is coming from both the sky and the wet surface (as seen below).
You could only find this type of light in the precious moments when the sun starts shining shortly after rain. I’m sorry if you live in an arid area.
This is one of my favorite photos ever (created with ColorSplash). The light is coming from the wet tarmac, thus creating a beautiful high-contrast scene that is only possible because the surface is wet.
Finally, let’s look at how you can take photos of glass reflections. Always keep an eye for large glass surfaces, which are omnipresent in many modern cities. Of course, simply taking a photo of a glass wall will not always work. Instead you have to carefully look around and experiment with light, composition and perspective until you find your perfect shot.
Most glass surfaces are flat; one notable exception is car windows. If you do it wisely, you can use the curvature of a car window to alter the contents of the reflection in a very unusual way. Let’s look at the following example.
At first you may not even notice that the entire image is a reflection in the back window of a car. However, if you look more closely at the right side, you will notice that it is bent upwards in an interesting way. This effect would not be possible without the reflection (at least not with the standard iPhone lens).
These are some of my favorite reflection photos. I hope they will inspire you to go out and search for your own unusual reflections.