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Reflections: Dazzling Red Mount Fuji (with Retouching Tips)

A polarising (PL) filter can cause reflections to disappear, but it helped to enhance this shot! Mount Fuji photographer Makoto Hashimuki shares how he achieved this lovely shot of Japan’s most iconic mountain tinted red by the sunset. (Reported by: Makoto Hashimuki, Digital Camera Magazine)

Red Mount Fuji with reflection in lake

EOS 6D/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 50mm/ Manual exposure (f/8, 1/8 sec)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto
With PL filter
Location: Lake Tanuki, Shizuoka Prefecture
Season/Time of day: Autumn/ Evening


The story behind the shot

Why the location?

Lake Tanuki is the second most popular spot for taking water reflection shots of Mount Fuji. (The most popular is the Fuji Five Lakes.) As an artificial lake, it is rather quiet, and the reflection of Mount Fuji is easily visible.

It is most popular in spring and summer, when many photographers head there hoping to catch a shot of “Double Diamond Fuji”, where the sunrise is directly aligned with the peak of the mountain (“Diamond Fuji”) and the scene is reflected in the lake (hence, “Double”).

Shooting on an autumn evening

In the evening, the sun becomes a front light source that shines directly on Mount Fuji from behind the photographer. This tints the mountain red at sunset, and its upside-down reflection in the lake will also be red.

I felt that the slight water movement in the shot captured the feeling of autumn. As there were many surrounding trees, I used a standard focal length and shot from a low position, which left out unnecessary distractions.

The following two techniques helped me to make the image even better:

1. Using a PL filter
2. Editing the image to make the details of the mountain surface more visible

For more details about them, keep scrolling!


Technique 1: Use a PL filter to make colours more vivid

But be careful not to make the reflection disappear!

I used a PL filter to make the reflection of Mount Fuji look clearer. The reflection could completely disappear depending on the degree of polarisation, but if you turn your PL filter to a certain angle, the reflection will look more vivid instead. Check your Live View  image or EVF to see the effects, and adjust where necessary.

The mountain and reflection are not red enough without a PL filter

Red Mount Fuji with reflection, duller colours


Did you know that you can create cool creative effects with a PL filter? Find out how in:
PL Filter Fun: Crazy-coloured Frost
Plane Window Landscapes: A Graphical Effect with Iridescent Colours


Technique 2: Edit to bring out the details of the reflected mountain surface

This will enhance the colour and dimensionality of the reflection, too

To further enhance the red colour of the mountain, I underexposed the shot. When I edited the shot afterwards, I brought out the details of mountain surface by increasing the following parameters:
- Clarity
- Dehaze level
- Saturation
- Contrast

These edits made the surface of the mountain in the reflection look more three-dimensional and impactful.

Close up of red mountain surface with dull colours and blurred details (before) and more intense red mountain with stronger details (after)


Bonus technique: If you want a better reflection of the sunset, expose for the sunset

Mount Fuji silhouette at sunset

Mount Fuji from the same location, exposed for the sunset

The lake surface is relatively calmer before dawn and at sunset, which makes it easier to focus on the reflection of Mount Fuji. But the sunset itself can be quite stunning too. When you are taking the exposure, think of what you want the main focus of your image to be. If you want a better reflection of Mount Fuji, expose for Mount Fuji; if you want a better reflection of the sunset, expose for the sunset.

More tips on photographing reflections here:
Composing a Shot of an Aurora with its Reflection in the Lake
Tips for Water Reflection Photography: Fun with Puddles!
Reflections: An Endless Seascape at Sunset
Reflections: A Steam Train Rides Off into the Dramatic Sunset

For more tips and ideas on how to photograph Mount Fuji or mountains in general, check out:
Photographing Mount Fuji in Winter: Shooting Spots & Composition Tips
6 Useful EOS R Features for Photographing Mountains with Clouds


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Makoto Hashimuki

Makoto Hashimuki

Born in 1977 in Shizuoka Prefecture, Hashimuki took up photography after purchasing a mirrorless camera in 2012. Fascinated by Mt. Fuji, he later purchased Canon’s EOS 6D and lenses to pursue more serious photography. His shots of Mount Fuji are featured in many publications in Japan, including photography magazines and calendars

Instagram: @hashimuki


Digital Camera Magazine

Digital Camera Magazine

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
Published by Impress Corporation