When is the best time to photograph a clear reflection on a lagoon or lake you ask? Well, a few weeks ago a friend and I found out first hand how and we captured this photo on the right. I’ll give you my observations and a few tips so you can take a similar picture.
First, I want to say that we didn’t set out to take this image, it was a complete coincidence, we were at the right time and place.
A few weeks ago, we were out covering the Long Beach Grand Prix. It was Sunday and we arrived at about 7 am. We were looking for the “lagoon area” where we had special VIP tickets to the Tecate Hospitality Tent. While arriving to this area, my friend noticed the reflection of the building and we both started to take a few photos.
I knew it would look good, but really didn’t know how great I would love this image until I reviewed it at home on my monitor. I took a total of four shots, two horizontal and two vertical. My friend also captured the same images, with different settings but similar results.
All my four shots had the following settings:
- 1/2500 sec
- ISO 160
- 18 mm
- Aperture Priority Mode
I list the camera settings not because they played a large role in producing the image, but only for those that like to the know the details. In fact, what played a larger role in getting this shot had to do with timing.
The image was captured at about 7:28 am, this place is next to the marina so we normally get a cool breeze throughout the day. But in the morning, often there is a period for an hour or two as the sun rises when there is no wind. Sound travels easily and there is a distinct “hollowness” to the air. This is the only way I know how to describe this period of the day.
When this happens, the water in lagoons or lakes seem to lay flat. Sort of like water in a glass. That’s what we experienced when we captured the photo above.
It didn’t matter what camera or lens we used (although I did have to fix the horizontal image on PS for lens distortion because I shot it at 18mm). What mattered more was the weather conditions and in order to get a good reflection, the wind and lighting had to be just right.
Remember, your subject in this case is not the sky or building, it’s the water.
Of course it does help to have an interesting subject. In this case the hotel, bridge and zeppelin balloon made for a perfect reflection.
In the end, although we enjoyed taking photos of the fast cars and our friends at the Grand Prix, like Alexia Cortez, Laura Baker and of course the Tecate Light girls, in the end it’s photos like the one above that really stand out.
So if you normally wake up early, then grab your camera and see if you can take a similar photo. Or better yet, plan it out and look for a period of 2-3 days where the weather is calm, clear and be out with your camera before the sun rises. I’m sure you’ll get a good lake or lagoon reflection photo that you’ll be proud to show off!