An abstract reflection cast in the James River. The motion of the water blurs the details.
Picture of Stephen Girimont

Stephen Girimont

Owner, The Intimate Landscape, Fine Art Prints

Reserved II

Ripples and eddies in flowing water can often form wonderful abstract shapes when reflections are aligned just so.

To a landscape photographer, clear blue skies are often a problem. That wide expanse of blue nothingness can be a hindrance to composing a scene. Often times I will find myself on such days seeking out compositions by looking down at my feet rather than gazing fondly off toward the horizon. When there is a river at my feet, that just expands the opportunities for compositions exponentially.

An abstract reflection cast in the James River. The motion of the water blurs the details.

The image above is sunlight light bouncing off the Federal Reserve building in downtown Richmond, VA, and reflecting in the James River. The motion of the water has been frozen by a relatively fast shutter speed, rendering the building’s reflection a collection of dots distributed across the water. Photographic Pointillism, to coin a phrase.

A particular aspect of this scene really caught my eye: the bright area of the building’s reflection bisects the image vertically, creating a kind of yin/yang relationship between the two halves of the image. The left side of the image is brighter than the right, as this side is reflecting the light bouncing off the flat south-facing side of the Federal Reserve building. The bright area separating the two halves is caused by the southeast corner of the building, which is bright silver metal, strongly reflecting the sunlight into the river. The right half of the image is darker in comparison, as it is not catching any light reflecting off the building.

I’ve posted another version of this image earlier (here) using a longer shutter speed to blur out the individual points making up the reflection as the water moves past, but I’m rather fond of this version as well. I like the texture and the fact that the faster shutter speed, while creating an entirely different look to the image, still retains the abstract characteristics.

Reserved II was created using a Nikon D800 and a Nikkor 80-400 mm zoom lens. The exposure was 1/125th sec @ f/5.6, ISO 100.

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