Reflections are something you can shoot all year round but as bright colours and bold shapes make the most interesting reflections, autumn's the perfect season to try this technique.
You can head to a picturesque area of landscape where you have reservoirs and lakes by the dozen to pick from. You can also stay a little closer to home and take a walk through your park after it's rained and use the puddles that have formed as your reflective surface. If you have a pond in your garden and a tree or two that's decorated with autumn colours, you don't even have to walk to the park as you can set your gear up in your own back garden to shoot these abstract style shots.
Photo by David Pritchard
If you head to a national park area you can capture a few wide shots where you include the body of water in the photo with the tree line and rolling hills sitting along side it. For this, you want an almost mirror-like reflection and this means shooting on a very still day. Better still, do your research and find a lake or reservoir that's sheltered by hills or find one where at least part of it's out of the way of the wind. It helps if you're an early riser too as the air tends to be stiller first thing in the morning than later on in the day. Ripples still a problem? Try using a slightly slower shutter speed to blur them.
You'll need a tripod to stop shake creeping in and a remote / cable release can be handy but it's not essential. You could even start your exposures via a Smart Phone if the camera you're using has wireless capabilities.
When working with slower shutter speeds by lakes, have a look at the distant trees and other objects that can move in the breeze to see if they've blurred slightly. If you do have a problem with blurry trees, try taking two exposures then combined them when you're back in front of your computer. The first exposure needs to be shot with a slower shutter speed and the second with a quicker shutter speed that won't allow movement to be introduced into your background.
It's also a good idea to pack an ND Grad Filter as you'll find that the reflection will look darker than the 'real' scene that's creating it. If you line up the darker part of the filter so it sits over the sky and finishes at the shoreline, you'll produce a shot that balances the exposure of the bright sky/surroundings with the reflection.
Shooting reflections on their own, particularly if the water's slightly choppy, will result in interesting abstract images. You just need strong colours and / or shapes to create shots with real impact and Autumn's oranges and reds are just the shades you need to produce abstract shots that really pack some punch. You can shoot a wider shot of the landscape, as above, then crop in when you're back in front of your computer but it's much easier to just frame up so the water's surface is your main point of focus. Some lenses struggle to focus on moving water so you may need to switch to manual focus so you get a sharp shot.
Just remember to shoot plenty of photos at quite quick intervals as the patterns created by the moving ripples will change quickly.
If you prefer to shoot water flowing and falling over rocks, use a slower shutter speed to blur its motion. As a result, you'll have smooth waves of water that have the autumn shades / colours of the trees dotted along the banking flowing through it.
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