Magazine article Communication World

Revealing Reflections: Mirrors, Water, Glass-Any Shiny Surface Can Reflect an Image or Light, Expressing Ideas in a New Form and Stimulating the Viewer's Imagination

Magazine article Communication World

Revealing Reflections: Mirrors, Water, Glass-Any Shiny Surface Can Reflect an Image or Light, Expressing Ideas in a New Form and Stimulating the Viewer's Imagination

Article excerpt

Reflections are ubiquitous. They appear in mirrors, in water, on glass or on any shiny surface. They can often alter reality, transforming it into the stuff of fantasy. Another form of reflection occurs when light itself is thrown back at us to create a different meaning.

As photographic storytellers, we can use reflection to express ideas in an entirely new form. We can also use them to abstract our subjects and create images that will stimulate the imaginations of viewers.

Reflected light often goes unseen, taken for granted. We must train our eyes to notice reflections, recognizing their potential meaning, and then use them as another way to communicate ideas.

My first example (right) symbolically represents the renovation of a Denver, Colorado, school built in 1904. The school has been shut down for the last 30 years. It is a ghost. Now under private ownership, it awaits a new life in Denver's booming Golden Triangle neighborhood. I noticed the morning sun glinting off one of its third-floor windows. By exposing this bright reflection with my spot-metering mode, I deepened and enriched the school's color. It seemed as if that reflection was pumping blood into those four massive columns, creating a symbol of the better day that might yet eventually come. The glint of sunlight reflecting back at us becomes, in its own way, a beacon of hope.

My second example (opposite, top) uses a reflection of another kind to tell its story. In June 1815, England and Prussia routed the Grand Army of the French emperor Napoleon in a decisive battle near the Belgian village of Waterloo, forcing him into abdication and exile. Nearly 200 years later, Napoleon still haunts this battlefield. I found his bust sitting in the window of a Waterloo souvenir shop, surrounded by racks of postcards. …

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