Weigh In: Reflection or Illusion?

Right now, I am editing photos from last night’s lifestyle shoot.  An image that intrigues me is of a reflection in a pool.  I can’t stop looking at it.

I would love for you to weigh in on the 2 “After” images.  Take a look…

BEFORE (straight-out-of-the-camera)


AFTER, version A

I oomphed the color and contrast, “dodged” (lightened) parts of my subjects, then flipped the image upside-down!


AFTER, version B

Same as above, but cropped out the bottom, so all you see is the reflection in the pool.


Which do you prefer:  Version A or Version B?

My thought process:

I took the shot to include the actual subjects’ legs, so that it would be obvious the image is a reflection.

Once I started editing the image, I realized that I preferred the image upside-down, so the reflection looks right-side-up!

The more I looked at it, the more I love the image.  Except now, I’m not sure if I like the legs at the bottom.  With the bottom cropped out, it looks like you’re looking through a window — or maybe through a big hole in the ground (ha ha).  You only realize it’s a reflection when you see the random leaves and stuff floating in the “sky”!  The image becomes more of an illusion when cropped.

Not sure if I prefer the image to look like an illusion, or if I’d rather it be an obvious reflection.

Please weigh in.  I’d love to know your thoughts!

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  1. Cathryn

    I like B but there are clouds on his forehead…the image doesn’t seem like a reflection at least to me when cropped. Image a, well the feet looks funny. This is a tough one.

  2. I love version B. The legs reflecting adds an artsy touch of the image as if you never inverted the shot in the first place. It makes the shot more unique without cropping it.

  3. Hi from an admire in Sweden, love all your work. I prefer version B but maybe if you don t put so much contrast to it and keep it more dreamy like the original. Or at least not add contrast to whole photo..then it will be more obvious it s a reflection…Just an idea 😉

  4. So, I actually prefer the upside down SOOC perspective the best. Since the “after” pictures don’t look like reflections, the leaves no longer look like leaves to me and are distracting because each subject happens to have a leaf–sorry, is there a better way to put this?–in the crotch area. When I look back at the original, I see everything in the water clearly. It looks like a picture of water, and you captured a cool reflection. I’m not sure if this helps. Just trying to give you an objective opinion. I’m a big fan and a new photographer and follow your blog whenever I get a free moment…or find myself procrastinating from editing. 🙂 Andrea Bacle Photography

  5. surprisingly, I also prefer option b, and the cropped version is even better. And since you’re making art, i’d probably edit out some of the distracting reflections (e.g., what looks like the black cloud on top of the man’s head). With option a, it’s obvious what the photograph is. With Option B, it’s not immediately clear, so it really invites the viewer to pause and then the mystery is revealed. Cool!

  6. B is more interesting to me, or should I say a photo I wish I took. With the crop, it’s interesting yet the people (main feature) are clear in the picture. It’s easy to see, but it captures imagination.