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Monday, June 1, 2009

Include Interesting Reflections

Like almost everyone, I've always loved the great photography that is published in National Geographic and I've learned a lot by studying how they were made and what made the shots so special. One of the first National Geographic photos that made a huge impression on me was a photograph of a sunset in a church window in the midwest. I don't recall who the photographer was or where exactly the shot was made, but the photographer did a beautiful job of showing a colorful sunset sky reflected in the simple window of a small-town church. Since then, I've always made it a point to try to find interesting or colorful reflections in windows, especially when the subject itself was somewhat low-key and simple.

The shot here is a worker's shack at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park (see yesterday's post) in Florida. I shot it very late in the day and the sun was behind the building, so that the front of the building was in almost complete shadow. I liked the shot but it was kind of bland from most angles. But as I explored more I began to see that from certain angles the palm trees and a barn behind me were being illuminated by the late afternooon sun and reflected in the shack windows. Beautiful! Once I knew that I wanted that reflection I just kept moving until I got a colorful but simple pattern of reflected light in the window.

And yes, I did boost the reflection's colors a bit in Photoshop using the hue/saturation tool. I used the individual-color pull down menu (at the top of the hue/saturation tool box) and "pushed" the yellow and green a bit to make the reflection pop. There is a tutorial about saturating individual colors on my main site.

By the way, finding the best place to stand to get a good reflection is easier if you remember a little bit of high school physics and the laws of reflection: the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection. If you were to draw a perpendicular line straight out from the center of the window and then stood to one side of that line, whatever you saw reflecting in the glass would be (on the opposite side of that line) at the exact angle that you are standing from the window. Here's a really simple diagram that explains it. And you thought all those hours napping in your high school physics would never come back to haunt you!

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