Reflections on water

December 15, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Reflections on water can make for great imagery. They can captivate the viewers' attention and make them look at an image for a long time. It is often very difficult to capture great reflections without having the split between the reflection and the actual elements in the center of the image. We can think of this split as the horizon. Now you will remember from the compositional rule of thirds that horizons typically look better on either the top third or bottom third line. Beginners are taught not to place horizons in the middle of the image and for good reason as central horizons tend to just divide an image in two. Instead of having a cohesive image where each part works together to create a great composition one is often left with the mind thinking of an image with a central horizon as two separate images. As photographers grow in the art we learn when to break these rules without harming the composition.

          Reflection in water is one such case where it is perfectly okay to place the horizon in the center of the image. These images still work well compositionally even though we do have and are looking at two images; one of the elements and another of the reflection. Why then does this work with reflections and typically not well with other kinds of imagery? Well because the reflection is a mirror of the non-reflected part of the image which ties the "two" images together. The theme, the colors, the objects in the image, everything is similar so the viewer cannot help but see the "two images" as connected.

Does this image work compositionally? Yes, because the viewer's eyes keep on comparing the two halves of the image. This forces the brain to see the image as one image. Without the reflection, this does not work in the same way and we are usually left seeing two separate images. So don't be afraid of breaking the rules when you encounter a scene where breaking the rules still works. Reflections on water present an easy topic to start experimenting with. Give it a try.


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