How to best use Reflections in City Photography

In city photography using reflections is certainly the easiest way to get creative in your composition.  Move a few feet and you get a completely different photograph.

When walking with your camera in city streets try to pay attention to reflection in building windows.  Reflections are always unpredictable.  Additionally, reflections are often partial, we see what is being reflected and partly through the windows.  These situations create great opportunities.

We have seen time and time again these street photography pictures leveraging reflection and transparency.  They are strong picture.  The third dimension, which is usually gone in photography, is predominant in these pictures.

Reflection helps showcase Architecture Contrast

Reflection showcase contrast old versus new Architecture.

How I use Reflections in this City Picture?

While wandering around in Munich, I found multiple striking examples of old versus new architecture.  When I saw this old building reflection in a modern recent one, it deserved a picture.  This picture is interesting for a few reasons:

  • These windows are on a recent building.  The design is modern;
  • The reflected building is at least century old;
  • The very large windows of the modern building is contrasting with the small windows of the reflected one;
  • There is two persons in the window looking at the older building. They are drawing our attention to the reflection.
  • Looking in this windows is just like looking through time;
[bctt tweet=”Reflections in #CityPhotography create Stunning Pictures”]

When I took the picture in Munich in 2009, I did not saw these two persons looking at the old building through the window.  All my attention was on the old building and its reflection in the new one.  Should I have noticed these two, I would have compose it differently, I would have move to my left.  Doing so, these two persons would have been more visible and their contribution to the picture more important.

Our visual system is very advanced.  When our attention focus something distractions are non-existent.  This is why it is so important to take the time to look for more details that are in the scene and that contribute positively or negatively to the picture.  Doing so, you can avoid distraction or leverage some details by taking these into account.

Look for reflections when taking pictures in your city walk.

  • By purposely looking for reflections, you will find dozens of opportunities for pictures that you would not get otherwise. Find these large windowed surfaces and while moving, try to include in these interesting buildings, peoples, shapes or colors.  Doing so, you will take dozens of additional pictures.
  • Take the time to understand the variable ratio from transparency to reflection based on luminosity and the angle of the reflecting surface.
  • Use a Circular Polarizer and control the ratio of reflection for a proper equilibrium. Then the final image will convey the interest that it deserves.

Here are some nice examples of leveraging Reflections in City Photography

Looking for more ideas?  Use Water Reflections as part of your photography.

Credit goes to Ray Scott from Visual Art Photography Tutorials
City photography is mainly the art of leveraging compositions of city elements to create interesting picture that depict the city in all its shapes and lively movement.