To complement the previous post on shadows, here is one about another transient light phenomenon that has always fascinated me – reflections.
The photo below was taken ten years ago with an early digital camera – it had 1.4 megapixels! A blue glass vase in a bay window made intriguing reflections and shadows. The glass itself picked up reflections and held shadows, too, and its color changed from deep azure blue to turquoise reflected light.
Complex reflections that play with other visual cues to mix up an image are fascinating, especially when foreground and background become interchangeable.
Here’s a situation where glass – in this case, a window in a Manhattan museum – simultaneously reflects the surroundings and allows you to see through it, producing an image with many possible interpretations – the street-side tree and fire escape ladder mixing with an enormous, fierce Buddhist deity (probably Mahakala, a protector) – what could it mean?
Here at a botanic garden in New York City, an Italianate reception hall’s windows provided opportunities to think about light and shade, inside and outside, shadow and reflection.
Another Manhattan window – this one made of curved mirrors – provided multiple skewed reflections of me and my friend, who’s barely visible as a stick figure in the background. This is from the 70’s. Right, I didn’t take the picture – but I directed the shoot! 😉
Decades later I took the photo below of my legs and feet reflected in a window at the Frye Museum in Seattle. Behind the window, a courtyard planted with ferns allowed me to do what I love – merge with nature!
Sometimes all you need is light and shadow dancing on leaves and water. (At Spring Lake, a little ocean shore town in New Jersey.)
A cold snap left a chunk of ice on a branch tip hanging over the water of a Long Island, NY lake. Rippled water scattered the branch’s reflection into circular mazes.
Reflections of sunlight on trees over a creek east of Seattle created a purely abstract field of color.
Another color field on the water:
And back to complexity: a Manhattan window, this time in an art gallery, reveals a worker setting up a show inside while reflections of buildings across the street seem to enclose her in a private world.
In the early 70’s I investigated reflections, shadows, and transparency with a pane of glass in a snow-covered field. The quality of the photo is poor, but good enough to document the process – an interplay of the thing itself and its projections; each has its own substance and reality.
And one for fun: Seattle’s Experience Music Project, a museum dedicated to popular culture designed by Frank O. Gehry. Constructed of thousands of aluminum and stainless steel “shingles” set in undulating curves, it always can be counted on for terrific reflections – even on concrete!