Whether you take photos of reflections in the water during the daylight hours or in the dark ofnight, you need to assess the scene. If you’re working in the sunshine or during the day and the water is still and placid, you can go ahead and take the photo as you would any other. Set up your exposure, keep the camera still and shoot. If the water is choppy during the day and you would like to smooth it out with the understanding that the reflections on the water will become hazy and diminished, you can do that too. Simply switch your camera to Shutter Priority mode, slow down your shutter speed to a few seconds and snap away. Just remember that you’ll need to block a lot of the light that’s making its way to your sensor one way or another or else you’ll end up with an overexposed shot. To do this, you can decrease the size of your lens’s aperture or decrease your camera’s ISO value. Most likely though, you’re best bet is to take advantage of a neutral density lens filter. This type of scenario is exactly what these filters are used for.
If you’d like to take some night shots and capture the reflection of a shoreline, buildings or bridge on some still or mildly choppy water, you’ll definitely need to slow down your shutter speed as well. The process is the same as what you’d follow for any other type of night photography, but in cases where reflections on the water are a special consideration, you want to make sure you’re down as close to the water as possible. That way, you’ll have as much of the reflection as you can get in your shot. Also, you’ll need to assess how much light is available to your camera in your surroundings. If not much at all, slow the shutter speed way down to one, two or even four minutes. Believe it or not, you can still get some wonderful reflections in this type of dark. If you’re photographing a cityscape or a bridge that’s got lights on it, you can use a shutter speed that’s set between typically five and 15 seconds. Experimentation is the key. Also, keep your ISO as low as it will go (typically 100) and set your aperture anywhere from f/8 to f/11. This will give you some sharp depth of field and it will also allow for that slower shutter speed.
Photography is all about light. You need to fist think of your goal and then set your camera up around that. Once you get the hang of all the settings on your camera, you’ll be out there taking photographs all day long. And the reward will be worth it. If you’d like to learn more about photographing reflections on water at night, please check out my post on the topic. Also, if you’d like to chime in with your own tips and tricks for this type of photography, please add to the conversation below. If you have any questions, ask them below as well. Thanks!