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Photographing Reflections


Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron lens with Kodak Professional Ektachrome 100 VS film

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M Aspherical lens with Kodak Professional Ektachrome 100 VS film

Photographing this scene was an incredible experience. I was spending the night camping with a few photography friends at the Pink Lakes National Park in Sunset Country 70 km west of Ouyen, along the Mallee Highway, in far North West Victoria, Australia. The Pink Lakes get their name from the deep red pigment carotene that is secreted from the alga on the lakes. The pinkish hue of the lakes is strongest in late summer, particularly when viewed early or late in the day or under a white cloudy sky.

The lakes rarely hold much water and during summer it’s common for the water to evaporate, resulting in salt crusts forming a series of seemingly random lines over the surface of the lake. While these lines provide an interesting design element and a way into abstraction, care should be taken when walking onto the lakebed. A heavy footfall could penetrate the surface and see you sink knee deep in mud. It’s also wise not to lay your camera directly on the ground, which is caked in salt, and to thoroughly clean the outside of your camera and tripod with a damp cloth immediately after each shoot. Salt is high corrosive and on your return home, to prevent your tripod seizing up at its joints, it’s a good idea to work some marine grade lubricant over the tripod. The lakes provided industry to the area with salt being commercially harvested between 1916 and 1975. Abounding with wildlife the visitor may well see Western Grey Kangaroo, Emu, Echidna and a variety of bird life. Springtime sees the emergence of lovely wildflowers.

I made the above image with a Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron lens with Kodak Professional Ektachrome 100VS film. Image processing was done in Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS3.

What makes the image unique is the complete absence of pink in the lake. I visited the park on two occasions. This image was made during my first trip, in winter, with some water in the lake. The image’s incredible blue color is due to a heavy storm that was moving towards me. Rain bearing clouds are blue in color. The more rain they contain, the darker the clouds. The darker the clouds, the more intense the blue light they emit. This variation in the character and color of the clouds is clearly evident in this image. And of course the colors and density of the water is largely a reflection of the sky and clouds above.

Many people espouse the need to place the horizon of a landscape 1/3 of the way from the bottom or top of the image. Like any basic rule in art, it’s a generalization and should be broken whenever the need arises. Ultimately its important to base such decisions not so much on text book rules, but by balancing your own intuitive response to the scene before you with the message you want to convey. In some cases its better to just go with the flow, as it unfolds before you, and let the scene direct your actions. In the case of the above image I wanted to balance the peace and tranquillity of the location with the power of the approaching storm. In the end the need to balance the drama of the sky with the mirror like reflection on the lake required an almost 50/50 placement of the horizon.   

When it comes to the point of focus I would normally focus my lens on the scenes main focal point. My eye was being drawn to the sky, but I wanted to strike a balance between the clouds and their reflection. So, instead of focusing on the clouds (background) I focused on their reflection.

However, for the reflection to be sharp it’s important not to focus on the surface of the water, but on the reflection itself, which lies just underneath the surface of the water. To achieve this with an auto focus system it’s best to switch your lens off auto focus and bring the reflection into focus manually. In addition I had to ensure that my Shutter Speed was fast enough to freeze the movement of cloud and water and that the Depth of Field (DOF) was large enough to provide the impression of relative sharpness from foreground right through to distant background.


Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M Aspherical lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

I love the power of the storm and the melancholy nature provided by the images monochromatic blue color balance. This image has been a favourite of mine for sometime. Recently I decided to print it as a black-and-white image. I think this new rendering has allowed me to see the image in a different way. While it still explores the power and majesty of nature, by removing the color from the image it may more definitively illustrate the quality and luminous nature of light. I’d be very interested to discover which version you prefer.

Copyright All Rights Reserved

Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography


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