Take time to re­flect

Lakes pro­vide the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to pho­to­graph twice the beauty of a land­scape

NPhoto - - Road Trip -

Un­ex­pected beauty comes in fits and starts in every­day life, but to find some­thing spe­cial and then dou­ble it is even rarer. Calm lakes, ponds and even a pud­dle all have the po­ten­tial to pro­vide mem­o­rable images. If you find your­self out on a still day, it’s al­ways worth look­ing for wa­ter.

Half­way through my week-long road trip I pulled up at Loch Garten, which is renowned for its red squir­rels and crested tits, two very rare an­i­mals in the UK. I’d come here in hopes of find­ing some, and I knew they wouldn’t get too close, so I grabbed the long­est lens I had, my 70200mm f/2.8. As I chased the echoed calls of the tits I found my­self at the edge of Loch Garten. Frus­trated I couldn’t find ei­ther an­i­mal, I took a mo­ment to calm down and looked out across the wa­ter. It was then I no­ticed how calm the wa­ter was. It was as if some­one was hold­ing a mir­ror up to the edge of the trees. I lifted the cam­era up to my eye, ready to take a snap, but I hes­i­tated. I nearly fell into ‘au­to­matic tourist mode’: they rock up at a won­der­ful lo­ca­tion and the first thing they do is get out their smart­phones to take a pic­ture. Then they walk on with­out re­ally tak­ing the scene in. I dropped the cam­era back down to my side and asked my­self, “What am I look­ing for in this re­flec­tion?”

What­ever I pho­tographed here was go­ing to be dou­bled by the wa­ter, so I scoured the loch look­ing for in­ter­est­ing shapes and pat­terns. I soon re­alised that more dis­tant moun­tains and tree lines, although vis­i­bly re­flected, be­came blurred and un­de­fined in the wa­ter’s sur­face; trees right at the wa­ter’s edge, though, were crys­tal clear. It must have been to do with the re­frac­tion of the light as it passed through more at­mos­phere be­fore reach­ing the wa­ter.

With this in mind, I picked a sec­tion just op­po­site me where a tree had fallen next to the shore­line. This pro­vided a di­ag­o­nal el­e­ment in a scene dom­i­nated by verticals. I then broke a fun­da­men­tal rule: the rule of thirds. The rea­son why this photo works is be­cause of its sym­me­try: the tall Scots pines are flipped per­fectly up­side down, and to em­pha­sise that sym­me­try I had to achieve sym­me­try in the im­age. I did by plac­ing the wa­ter­line in the cen­tre of the frame. Now, I’m not en­tirely happy with this im­age – the bank runs at a slight an­gle from top left to bot­tom right in the frame – but some­times we have to live with ‘near enough’. To make that bank straight I’d have had to place my­self par­al­lel with it, and that would’ve put me 400m out into

the loch. My lens choice wasn’t per­fect, ei­ther: the 70-200mm I brought with me to pho­to­graph the squir­rels wouldn’t have been my go-to for re­flec­tions, but the lim­its of the fo­cal length range forced me to fo­cus on the de­tails. I pushed in to 135mm to crop out any­thing that wasn’t for­est or re­flec­tion. Then I set my aper­ture to f/2.8 and ISO800, to en­sure a fast shut­ter speed of 1/320 sec. This, in com­bi­na­tion with the 70-20mm’s vi­bra­tion re­duc­tion (VR), meant that my hand­held re­flec­tion shot came out pin-sharp.

the great

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