How to work with reflections in the water

Here is a photo I took last summer in Arizona and I framed the reflection in a triangle. I also made sure not to include the landscape that was in the reflection. I wanted to show the observer how the landscape was without showing both. I know that somethings it is better to show both, however in this case I did not. I was looking for ideas next time I see this, happens a lot so I will get another try. 38mm iso 500 1/30 at f/20. I think I did not have a polarize filter.

I find the composition to be too busy. I think part of the reason is the bright light which creates countless small shadows which break up the major shapes in the composition. I do think the overall composition is fairly strong and I like the green wedge in the Llc. The vertical branches on the left side add some welcome complexity to the layered design (and a sense of depth).

Thank you Igor, Do you think a later afternoon would have helped here. I wondered also if there too much from the overhead tree that got into the reflection made it so busy, actually I almost passed on it. Do you think cropping in a portrait work help?

Lovely colors and I like that both the dry land and reflections are in focus. Sometimes that’s quite difficult to do. I’m in agreement with Igor on the bright light. Yes, perhaps later in the day, or even an overcast day, would make for less busy-ness. If the afternoon (or early morning) sun lights up the background hills, but leaves the bank in shade, that would be better, I think.

I like seeing the large cacti in the reflections only here!
For me there are too many branches coming into the frame at the edges. I think indeed that a vertical composition might eliminate some of that, maybe zooming in a bit more next time? I agree with shooting with softer light which will change the scene and contrasts hugely.

The trees coming in from the right are the bigger problem. You could do a portrait image of the left half because there are some good vertical lines in that area. It would still look busy to some but I would then put it into the “controlled chaos” category with a good, more complex composition. That would also bring more attention to the saguaros. I don’t find the branches hanging from above to be offensive. This is all just my opinion. Others may like the right half

So I cropped the image and raised shadows a bit and pulled hi-lights back a bit. Not much I can do with lighting other than go back which I might so since it rained recently and water is in the creek again. I think the crop worked better



Really like the colors, contrast and details throughout - although as mentioned, it’s pretty busy.

Thanks for taking the suggestions and reposting the vertical crop. For me, that’s the way to go with this scene; the crop really simplified things - and yet I think you still get to accomplish what you wanted - not including the real landscape as the source of the reflection. Another thing the crop does is bring more attention to the saguaro, which is a big plus.


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Thanks Lon, I looked and I took this in May after a heavy raining season in AZ, the crop did save the photo.