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November 21, 2018 - Reflections

As the calendar grows thin and autumn closes in on winter, we reflect back over the year, giving thanks for our good fortunes. At Waterman Center, we are extremely grateful for all of the support we have received throughout the year with our NHTL blog. We would like to extend a thank you to all of our contributors through photography and writing as well as our readers, without whom we would not have a purpose. Thank you all for your part in helping us to teach natural history through such wonderful images.

Our final blog of 2018 celebrates reflections of a different kind, that of light reflected on a shiny surface.

1. Whitney Point Reservoir

In 2018, in Broome County, New York it rained almost daily throughout the summer and well into autumn. The resulting wet climate caused leaves to die more slowly than previous years and the beautiful autumn colors have only gradually taken hold. This is why Kelly Frederick Sweet was able to capture the autumn glow reflected in the water at Whitney Point reservoir as late in the season as early November. A popular birding location, this > 1200 acre reservoir, located in Broome County, New York is a man-made lake created by the US Army Corps of Engineers to provide flood control. In 1942, a dam was built on the Otselic River, turning this portion of the Susquehanna watershed into a large pool. According to the DEC, the sparse ecosystem has been improved through "a cooperative effort between local sportsmen and the DEC". Efforts included shoreline enrichment as well as improving fish habitat within the water.

2. Blue Hour

Reflections of white, gray and blue were photographed by Gina Vaughan in this next image during "blue hour". The blue hour is a term used to describe the period of twilight before sunrise or after sunset. When the sun is sufficiently below the horizon, the sky takes on a deep blue and the landscape is lit by suffused bluish light. Images produced during this time detect only faint coloration, representing primarily shades of light and dark. Requiring clear or partly cloudy skies, blue lighting is only visible for a short time each day, typically lasting less than 30 minutes. Specific length and times are based on location and the relative position of the sun and earth along the ecliptic plane. To find blue light times in your area, there are a few applications available, including JekoPhoto online or the cell phone application for Android and iPhone.

3. Revealing Reflections

Reflections add a level of depth within a photograph, infusing visual intrigue into an already lovely wildlife portrait. Sarah Darling-Jones captured this photo of a Great Blue Heron in the Adirondacks. Reflections in the water act as a mirror echoing a background not directly visible in this scene. The angle of the light has revealed wildflowers and trees directly behind the heron, making the scene look entirely different than that on the shore.

Other world reflections of a Great Blue Heron photographed by Sarah Darling-Jones

This same technique produces the opposite effect in this image captured by Cheryl Utter. The upper half of this photo is a scene with a tree along the water's edge located in a park near a church. The bottom half is dramatically different. Only tree limbs and none of the surroundings are reflected back in the water. The light rippling of the water provides an impressionistic quality, resulting in a much more serene feeling.

To produce either effect, play with your own angle with respect to your subject to see what interesting scenes you can create within the water.

4. Dynamic Tension

Reflections on relatively still water often provide a mirror-like quality, resulting in abstract, geometric shapes. Diagonal lines add a dynamic tension to this image of a log laying in the water photographed by Gina Vaughan. In art, leading lines are used to draw the eye of the viewer through a scene. By creating multiple diagional lines moving in contrasting directions the viewer feels a sense of unrest. The photo feels alive, as though it is "pulling apart from itself" - Josh at Expert Photography.

5. Water Ripples

The scene above was photographed in calm water. When wind begins to blow, the images reflected back become disrupted, creating interesting patterns. Water ripples distort and elongate the colors of the sky, often resulting in an artistic, painterly effect. In this image photographed by Kelly Frederick Sweet, the ethereal feel of the downy feather is complemented by the soft reflections of sky in the water ripples.

6. Resource Links

Blue hour cell phone app for Android or iPhone.

7. About the Author

An active member of the Waterman Center board of directors, Teri Franzen is a professional wildlife photographer, videographer, naturalist and conservationist working to promote natural history awareness through photography education.  With a strong emphasis on ethics, Teri is passionate about observing and photographing wildlife on its terms, wild, unaltered and undisturbed.


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