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Mirror My Image

by Nick Jenkins September 20 2017

Earlier this year I gave a talk about the inclusion of reflections in photographs. My main point was that reflections add to the ‘value’ to the image by not only enhancing the end product but also adding value to the viewer by the addition of more interest.

Recently I had two opportunities to revisit this theme – in spades. My first foray was into the forest of Llanwonno, about 20 minutes from where I live and I had never visited it!  My second was to Cardiff Bay, an area I have photographed quite a bit before, but always return to.

1. Llanwonno – The journey started with a search for the reservoir, known as Clydach Reservoir. After a bit of ‘walking around’ I found it. Quite remote and absolutely people free, this jewel was my playground for some time. The day had started cold and there was mist rising, but by the time I had arrived at the reservoir the sun broke through onto a reservoir that presented me with a still body of water which created the beautiful mirror I was in search of. Setting the camera up on the trusty Benro tripod, I selected the 24-70 mm lens and used the polariser – NOT to diminish the reflection but to enrich the colours. Polarising filters can do this well by under-exposing the image. I opted for quite a few differing compositions, but my undoubted favourite is below.

Clydach Reservoir in the Llanwonno Forest south Wales

Clydach Reservoir in the Llanwonno Forest south Wales

2. By contrast, later in the week I visited Cardiff Bay. Again, a sunny and bright day but the difference in the environment could not have been more marked. After realising the bay was not going to give me the reflections I was looking for, I ventured into the ‘city’, and this time I had clear reflections of buildings in the waters of what was once one of the busiest docks in the world. Again, I used the 24-70 mm lens and again I ‘tripodded’ the shot. No polariser this time as I wanted to keep the shots brighter and not so saturated. Not as 'sharp', perhaps, as the reservoir image as the water was rippling under a light breeze, but still very worthwhile, and there were some lovely, and slightly surreal, ripple effects too.

Cardiff Bay Apartments reflected in the waters of one of the old docks

Cardiff Bay Apartments reflected in the waters of one of the old docks

So, what is it about reflections that captivates me?

Well, daft as it may sound, I have this idea that two of anything in a final image doubles its value. Also, there is just something so special about reflections that I simply feel compelled to include them in my photographic portfolio.  Where I can, I frame or crop the shot to show as much symmetry as I can – remember, I am making, and not just taking, an image. This isn’t always possible, but where I can I do. And the inclusion of a good reflection will always enhance the image and hold the viewer's eye.

Remember, reflections can be found in many objects big and small, from puddles and pools to the sea itself.  As you can see in my images, perfectly calm water isn’t always needed, some ripples can add a distortion that adds a unique feel to the image. So if you want to grab and hold the viewers’ attention consider going on your own reflection finding adventure.

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