Digital Reflections of Rotterdam

I often see them in photo groups on Facebook: photos of Erasmus Bridge, or other iconic buildings located near the river, reflecting in the mirror-like water surface of the river Nieuwe Maas.

Erasmus Bridge and Wilhelmina Pier in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, under a dramatic evening sky, reflecting in a digitally generated water surface
Erasmus bridge reflected


But the Maas is never smooth like a mirror. Rotterdam is the location where the water of the river meets the flow of the tides from the Northsea. As a result, even in completely windless weather there are always big and little waves. In reality, the Maas therefore is hardly more reflective than, say, the turf in stadium De Kuip or the new pavement on Coolsingel boulevard.

Digitally generated water reflection of railway bridge De Hef, Erasmusbridge and the Unilever building in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in the river Nieuwe Maas
De Hef, Erasmus bridge and Unilever


So how are those mirror photos of the Maas made? The answer is of course: with a little help from modern technology. With Photoshop for example or, if you want more control over the waves, with 3ds Max.

Former cruiseship SS Roterdam and the Euromast observation tower, reflecting in the digitally enhanced water of Maashaven harbour
SS Rotterdam, Euromast and a digital harbour

Behind the scenes

The image below provides a look behind the screens, or maybe I should say in front of them. A camera low above the digital water surface, the wave dimensions and other characteristics of which can be varied. And behind it a screen with the scene to be mirrored.

Looking behind the screens at the virtual film set, making a water reflection image of Feyenoord stadium De Kuip in Rotterdam, The Netherlands using 3ds max
The making of De Kuip reflection


You can call it kitsch, you can call it cheating. You can also use words like atmospheric, picturesque or surreal. Call it what you want, without this kind of special effects these pictures could not be made.

A digital water reflection of Noordereiland and Kop van Zuid skyline in the river Nieuwe Maas in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The island, the skyline and the virtual river

Station Canal

It becomes rather funny when this technique is used to reflect buildings in rivers or canals that don’t even exist. Such as the Central Station, of which one of the nicknames, the Shark’s Mouth, is even more apt when mirrored.

Digitally generated reflection of the Central Station in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in a fictional body of water
The Shark’s Mouth and the fictional canal


I created a whole series of water reflections of Rotterdam icons and set up a special room for them in my online gallery. Fourteen images and counting. Feel free to look around; there are, like often a gallery, price tags but viewing them is absolutely free…

Please note: shipping only to the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France. If you live anywhere else on the planet, check my international gallery. With the added bonus of curtains, pillows, duver covers and other household items with these images printed on them!

Duvet cover with a print of a surrealistic image of the Maastunnel ventilation building in Rotterdam reflecting in the river Nieuwe Maas at sunset

Requests for new pictures are also welcome, just tell me in the comments below!

Image of Erasmus Bridge and Kop van Zuid in Rotterdam, reflecting in the water of the river Nieuwe Maas, framed aboven the couch in a surrealistic living room under water
Erasmusbridge under water…

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