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Reflections: A Landscape Filled with Rice Field “Mirrors”

A symmetrical composition is not the only way to use a reflection, and your image doesn’t necessarily have to include the actual subject being reflected. Here is how the reflection of the sky was used to liven up a landscape full of rice fields. (Reported by: Hirokazu Nagane, Digital Camera Magazine)

Rice fields with water reflections of sky

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM/ FL: 350mm/ Manual exposure (f/10, 1/320 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Daylight
Season/Time of the day: Spring/Evening
Location: JR Tadami Line, between Aizu Takada and Negishi Stations, Fukushima Prefecture


Lighting and weather: Shoot in front light; make sure there are clouds

While the effect depends on your actual shooting conditions, generally, shooting in front light can make water bodies look more reflective, better defined and hence, stand out more against the landscape.

The main image above was shot in the evening. There were some clouds in the sky, which actually helped my shot: The evening sunlight shining through them was reflected in the water-filled rice fields, creating shiny, reflective accents amid the reflections of the blue sky.

In comparison, when I shot the same scene in the morning, I had backlight, which turned the trains into silhouettes and made the rice fields glitter. It was a nice shot, but I wanted to showcase the rice fields better.

What happens when there are no clouds?

Water-filled rice fields on a clear day

The above shot was taken on a clear day. It looks rather ordinary, doesn’t it? The mirror-like effect of the main shot wasn’t just because of the lighting direction, but also the clouds.

Also see: Decisions in Landscape Photography: Front Light or Backlight?


Composition: Take advantage of the geometrical pattern and lines

One other thing that makes this scene unique is the geometric pattern formed by the rice fields and the ridges that divide them. Make sure that you frame the image to showcase this!

Expert tip: Be intentional down to the finest details

I included the train to add some interest to the shot, but if you look closely, you will notice the part of the train where the train carriages connect is aligned with the line created by one of the ridges between the rice fields. Here's a close-up of the part of the image with the train:

Close-up of train aligned with lines on rice field

This is no coincidence: It was my intention to align those lines. I feel that it is very important to take care of even the small details.


The location: Looks different during different parts of the rice planting cycle

I shot the images here from Futanuma Forest Park, where you can see the Aizu Basin. While the above images were taken in spring, the spot is also very popular with photographers during the rice planting season (around May), and in early autumn, where the ears of the rice plants turn yellow-golden in colour.

Tip: If you zoom out, you would be able to capture the surrounding Bandai Mountains in the frame!

Yellow rice fields

Shot from the same spot in early autumn. Reflection or no reflection, it can be fascinating to see how different the same scene looks at a different time of the year. Perhaps it is time to pay a visit to the rice-planting village nearest to you!

For more tips on photographing reflections, check out:
Reflections: An Endless Seascape at Sunset
Reflections: A Steam Train Rides Off into the Dramatic Sunset
Tips for Water Reflection Photography: Fun with Puddles!

For more composition tips to add a unique touch to your grand landscapes, see:
Nailing the Shot: A Train Amid a Grand Autumn Landscape
How I Nailed this Shot: Adding Impact to a Grand Forest Landscape
Stunning Summer Landscapes: Scenic Spots in Japan & Pro Photography Tips (3)


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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

Hirokazu Nagane

Hirokazu Nagane

Born in Yokohama in 1974. After graduating from the Musashi Institute of Technology (Currently referred to as ‘Tokyo City University’), he studied under railway photographer Mitsuhide Mashima, who is the CEO of Mashima Railway Pictures. In recent years, he was involved in explaining railway photography techniques in photography magazines, and writing railway photography guides. He goes round Japan taking photos of trains while upholding the motto of “taking photos so true to life that you can hear the sound of the train just by looking at the photos”.