I am aware that this question might be labelled as off-topic, but the issue bothers for some days now, and I figured my best bet to get an answer is here on this site.

Whenever I look at pictures I have taken on bright, sunny days, I feel like shiny patches on water or hard shadows enhance the perceived brightness of the picture. Often to a point where it feels exhausting to look at.

See this picture I took in Inverness as an example: enter image description here

Are such conditions something to avoid if I am still a beginner? What to look out for?

Edit: This question partly adresses the issue, but a polarizing filter only reduces the effect. The hard shadows and little blown out patches on other surfaces remain.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi and welcome to Photo.SE! I think there's a good question somewhere, but at the moment I find it hard to understand what you're concrete question is. Are you looking to prevent these reflections when shooting? Or are you looking to soften this when editing the photo? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 19:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SaaruLindestøkke: Mainly how to avoid them when shooting, however, advice on how to handle it during editing is also very welcome. \$\endgroup\$
    – pat3d3r
    Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 19:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this answer your question? How to "NOT" photograph reflections on water \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 20:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @pat3d3r: Its a very big difference. You can under or overexpose 2,3 or 4 stops. It can be difficult to blend them and make it look natural though. Personally I really like reflections in the water, I think it makes a really nice background for people shots. \$\endgroup\$
    – Orbit
    Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 9:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You have mentioned that a CPL (polarizing) filter is not what you are looking for, but have you checked if a GD filter might work for you, maybe in conjunction with a CPL? \$\endgroup\$
    – ATG
    Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


The answers to the linked question address two technical problems, angle of incidence and polarization associated with specular highlights.

You should also worry about the clouds, they are way too overexposed and you can't recover details in post.

Here's the aesthetic part that answers the last part of your question:

Shooting landscapes when the sun is high in the sky is generally NOT a good idea. You will have these specular, shiny highlights on water you can't fix (unless you use clone stamp to erase them altogether in post but that's messy).

If you want to shoot pretty landscapes you have two choices of time for far superior light, sunrise and sunset. Both these have these 3 phases Blue Hour (comes before sunrises and after sunsets) - sunrise - golden hour Golden hour - sunset - blue hour

For every location these times can be calculated so you can plan your shoots. apps like Photo Time can help.

Blue hours are the best for diffused, colorful, soft light that elevates the mood. Sunrise and sunset cast soft, directional light with amber tinge that brings out texture on surfaces and lights up areas you don't even notice at other times of the day.

If you shoot the same landscape at either of these hours, you'd junk the picture you posted here, it'd be that different and that good.

  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, thanks for the explanation! \$\endgroup\$
    – pat3d3r
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 9:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ What's kind of amusing, if you don't know the geography, is that blue hour in Inverness this time of year will be at about 12 - 3am as it doesn't ever quite get totally dark. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 10:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ The blue hour time are specific to your location. The app uses GPS to take the location and then tell the sunrise, sunset times for that location. \$\endgroup\$
    – raviputcha
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 11:09

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