Photographing Window Reflections

Old Mormon Schoolhouse  in Capitol Reef National Park
Old Mormon Schoolhouse in Capitol Reef National Park

As photographers, we all are always looking for interesting and even arresting images.  Mary has written here before about capturing water reflections.  Another interesting situation are window reflections.  You need to have some ideal conditions, but when you do, window reflections are easy to get and provide a lot of creative options.

Here is the scene we walked into.  It was bright out, but the giant walls in Capitol Reef kept the schoolhouse shaded.  As Mary walked around the small school house, she noticed the reflections in the windows and played with different compositions and exposures to get different effects.


You need the ideal conditions…

In order to get these kinds of clear mirror images from a window, you need some ideal conditions:

1.  The window must be in the shade

2.  The “subject” of the reflection has to be brightly lit by the sun.  It must be brighter than what is “behind” the window

3.  You will want to use manual focus to make sure you focus on the image in the reflection and not necessarily the window, itself

This schoolhouse is near the visitors’ center in the village known as Fruita within Capitol Reef NationalPark

In the images above from Capitol Reef, Mary was able to get a bright sharp reflection AND a “ghostly” background from the interior of the schoolhouse.

As many of you know, Mary and I are avid photographers of the California Missions.  In the images below, we found interesting subjects reflected in the various windows around the missions and their out buildings.

La Purisima Cconception
Mission La Purisima Cconcepcion
Santa Barbara 12
Mission Santa Barbara

So, while you are out and about shooting, especially buildings, look for interesting reflections.  These all look pretty realistic.  Another option is to create more abstract looks. These final images come from various trips to downtowns with tall glass buildings.

Downtown Tucson
Downtown Tucson
Center City in Las Vegas
Center City in Las Vegas

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