Something like this image for example. Is this possible without any sort of editing? https://www.instagram.com/p/BcWg4HYgRn8/?taken-by=jadgghorayeb

  • Try it, and then try it again. Repeat as needed. That is how you learn. I have not tried so i can answer you. Have you asked the person whose Instagram you linked to how they did it. ? – Alaska Man Sep 24 '19 at 2:45
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    Looks legit to me. The water exhibits a small amount of ripple reflection and it's larger the further towards the feet/hands which is expected. Nice artistic shot. – doug Sep 24 '19 at 3:11
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    Polarizer would be helpful. – xiota Sep 24 '19 at 9:02
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    Turn it 90-degrees to enhance reflections. – xiota Sep 24 '19 at 11:10
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    That would only work if the non reflected light was already polarized in a single direction 90° differently than the reflection. (Such as two mirrors at a 90° angle to one another.) Turning the filter 90° from the direction in which the reflection is minimized only leaves the reflection with the same brightness as before in comparison to the brightness to the primary subject. (Both will be slightly reduced equally by the density of the material in the polarizer.) – Michael C Sep 25 '19 at 0:36

Yes, it is possible.

The key to getting the reflection to mirror all of the subject at the same size is to shoot at as low an angle to the surface of the water or other flat, reflective surface, as possible.

The higher the camera is above the reflective surface and the larger the angle between the lens' optical axis and the reflective surface, the greater the difference will be between the size of the subject and the size of the subject's reflection, due to the different optical distance from the subject to the camera when compared to the optical distance from the subject to the reflective surface to the camera.

I'd guess that the example image to which you linked was taken with the lens just a few centimeters above the surface of the water. Even so, the reflection of the leg perpendicular to the water is about 3% shorter than the leg itself is above the water.

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Absolutely it is possible. Do an image search for "mountain reflection water", to see countless examples. Here's one of Mount Hood reflected in Mirror Lake, Oregon, U.S.A, from Wikipedia:

Mount Hood reflected in Mirror Lake, Oregon
From Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain from US Federal Highway Administration

Not not convinced they weren't edited to get the effect? Add "Ansel Adams" to the search, to get examples that were done on film about 80 years ago. Adams's Mirror Lake, Mount Watkins, Yosemite National Park is a particularly good example.

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  • Adams was a post processing wizard. Many of the techniques he developed to a high art in the darkroom are the precedents of the tools in our image editing software suites today. Just because it was shot on film doesn't mean it couldn't have been "shopped" in the darkroom. In the 1850s Gustave Le Gray started combining parts of two different glass negatives exposed for different lengths of time to create prints of seascapes with the details of a very bright sky and darker sea both preserved. – Michael C Sep 25 '19 at 1:09
  • @MichaelC Yes, but convincingly "shopping" Mirror Lake to reflect Mount Watkins perfectly (meaning, clear reflection, with the appropriate foreground elements in the correct depth layer, with just the right ripple reflections in certain places) and convincingly is unfeasible with film post processing. Occam's Razor and all. – scottbb Sep 25 '19 at 1:13
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    I doubt Adams did any rearranging of items in that shot, but the capability was certainly there, even with film. By the way, if you magnify that image at the link you provided, you can measure the tallest pine tree in the center and see that the reflection is shorter than the actual tree - validating that the camera was several feet above the water. The tall trees to the right of your example image are about 8% taller than their reflections, again showing the camera's position was above the water. – Michael C Sep 25 '19 at 1:18
  • But that's not a small puddle. – vclaw Sep 30 '19 at 20:51
  • @vclaw well, according to the British, the Atlantic is a pond... ;-) – scottbb Sep 30 '19 at 23:59

Of course it is. just take it with a lower shutter speed like 2 secs or even more if you can. the reflection will be fantastic. Just note that everything inside the frame must remain still for that 2 or so seconds.

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    Can you explain how a longer shutter speed affects the reflection? – mattdm Sep 30 '19 at 14:11
  • While longer shutter speeds will smooth ripples and waves, the result won't be a mirror-like surface. The result will be a smooth, diffuse, milky-like appearance. The only way to get a mirror-like surface on water is to wait for the ripples to dissipate, leaving a smooth surface. In that case, 1/500 second or 3 second exposure won't matter. – scottbb Oct 1 '19 at 0:45

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