Reflection of Light

Water has become such a fascination for me this year: long exposures, extremely short exposures, reflections, refractions of stream beds, ripples, waterfalls and cascades, embedded rocks and boulders, etc. It provides such a rich environment for experimentation.

This image is one of my favorites from a recent morning shoot on Tonahutu Creek on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any. My technique with these types of images is to use a very high ISO and very high shutter speed to freeze the constantly shifting water surface . I couldn’t care less about the graininess of the image because the graphics are what is important.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?


Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Nikon D610
70-300 mm @ 300mm
1/4000 sec
ISO 4000



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Nice abstract. I’ll have to try this technique.

I’d be inclined to crop a bit from the right to simplify the pattern slightly. That’s definitely a personal preference though

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Thanks, @Nathan_Klein. I appreciate your comment. If you try it, allow yourself to take a lot of images and then patience to self-edit afterwards. It can be a bit time consuming both in capture and editing, but is very fulfilling.

But these types of images don’t take a lot of post processing, which to me is a huge attraction.

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Definitely very interesting, Matt. The glassy look here conveys something that is somewhat ethereal to me. The only thing that comes to mind as somewhat an afterthought is the darker area right in the middle of the bottom edge of the frame there. What is it doing there? What is the message that it is trying to convey? It is certainly not a critique whatsoever.

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Agreed about the spot at bottom, @Adhika_Lie. I think I am in denial that it is a distraction but perhaps I should address it to modify its color to be lighter and its brightness to compliment the remainder of the image.

I have several other images in the same series that have a similar abstract quality that don’t have the dark spot but have less interesting geometry. Perhaps I should blend them, taking the best parts of each. Yes, I think I’ll try that and see if it resolves the issue without adding others.

Thank you for your comment - it has put this image on a different path for me.

Rework comment:
I edited the original to blend images, smooth out the dark spot that Adhika mentioned, and cropped to a 4x5 aspect. Rework is posted above.

I have no cc. Just wanted to pop in a say love the rework of this image. Nicely done!!

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The rework is just magnificent I think. It’s almost like looking at the skin of some mythical creature. Super!

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Matt; I love them both. Each has a different feel but equally as wonderful. Colors, composition and the soft flow are outstanding. Truly great photos.

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Such wonderful and encouraging comments, @Brie_Stockwell, @linda_mellor and @Adhika_Lie. Thank you. I admit that these give me such pleasure to create and share. They enable me to step out of reality for a bit and enter another world of pure aesthetic experience.


This is wonderful, and the rework was well worth the effort. I am fascinated by the “lines” (reverberations?) around the higher and lower areas of the waves. Nature can provide so much in the way of art and it is a delight to find and share it.

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Rework improves the image for me

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rotating the original 90 degrees so that the bit you cropped would be in the bottom right corner might be interesting to look at ?

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Fabulous abstract! Your rework is definitely an improvement, with the elimination of that dark blob at the bottom of the original. I, too, find great enjoyment making these kinds of water abstracts. This one is so interesting, with the way you captured the ripples, giving them a 3-dimensional character.

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Hi Matt,
I really like this image! The rework completely pulled me in and I kind of got lost in it for a moment. I love the colors in it. The only minor thing I would change would be to slightly tone down the black curve at the top of the frame and maybe the very bottom right corner. It’s gorgeous & well done!

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I think your reworked image looks fantastic. I find water is always an interesting subject.

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Thank you for your comments, @Diane_Miller, Thank you. Yes, the lines were mesmerizing and continuously shifting into new patterns in delightful ways as I observed them. It was just fun to be there.

@Nathan_Klein, thanks. Me too.

@mic, thanks for your suggestion. Welcome to NPN! I look forward to seeing your posts and comments. I looked at the image rotated every which way but none satisfied me as this original orientation.

@Bonnie_Lampley, thanks so much for your observations. I don’t know about you, but I find the order and natural variation in the geometry of the ripples are just wonderful to observe. They are calming to me. And I agree, this image is improved without the dark spot.

Thank you, @Christine_Franzen. Yes, the blue-brown-white-gray color scheme in this one is so soothing. Regarding the black curve at the top of the frame could you be more specific or do a screen capture and label it so I know which part you’re referring to?

@Eva_McDermott, thank you. Kindred spirits.

Love the rework, Matt. Not much I can say that hasn’t already been said - wonderful colour palette, a beautiful abstract that really captures the feel and fluidity of water. Print it.

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Matt, I love these kinds of moving water, reflection shots. I too often find that a fast shutter is the way to go, depending on the dof as a mixture of sharp and soft is usually distracting. This one looks great, especially the rework/crop. I do find that there’s more of a sense of flow from left to right in the original, which I also like. That has me wondering how the original would look with the darkest bits dodged considerably. The textures are outstanding.

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The micro ripples on top of the larger wavelets are stunning. I love water abstracts as well and this is just about the most amazing water abstract I have seen. The cropped version is better.

Gorgeous and fascinating water abstract. Absolutely love this Matt

I prefer the cropped/rework version slightly. I think removing most of the harder/darker and higher contrast area on the right really let’s the viewer enjoy the abstract patterns and wonderful tones/color.

Beautiful work!


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