I recently experimented with using a large puddle of rain water when photographing the Blackford Dolphin oil rig at Belfast’s Harland and Wolff. It was interesting to see how the surface reflection can be used to enhance focus points of an image.
Through experimenting with this process I came to the realisation that our brains can be lazy in how we process what we look at. When looking in puddles we ignore the details of the image that lies on the surface and tend to focus on the murky water beneath. I personally found I had to tell myself to look for a reflection.
The Mournes were fog filled so we stopped at the forest in which the Rams’ Pocket Radio “Love is a Bitter Thing” video was shot. On a walk around I spotted the long trees reflecting on the surface of the still puddle so I tried to capture a balanced reflection of two strips, the reality versus the reflection.
It was an interesting experiment, I had to concentrate to ignore what I was seeing and really focus on the reflection. A small change in the camera angle also had a massive impact on the captured image.
The fold out LCD screen on the X-T1 allowed me to really get close to the surface of the water and still (easily) see what I was shooting. I then started to experimenting with capturing images that blended some of the content under the surface with the detail of the reflection.
It was interesting to see the abstract shapes that could be created by mixing the reflection with the reality of the puddle. It was also remarkable easy to control the balance between reflection and reality by changing the distance between the X-T1 and the water and by adjusting the aperture and thus the depth of field.
As I played with the technique I was so fixated by getting the reflection in focus I didn’t spot a piece of rubbish in the puddle. Fortunately though its existence creates and interesting dynamic with the surface reflection of the puddle.
The process makes for an interesting end result that can lead the audience to question what they are looking at as their brains process the mix of reflection and reality.
The next time you head out to shoot landscapes and find your view is thick with dense cloud and rain don’t see it as a set back, seek opportunities in the puddles.