Reflections of Rotterdam at Windforce Zero

It look like the months have a theme this year, in terms of weather. In January it has been foggy for days on end; in February, we were hit by storms Corrie, Dudley, Eunice, and Franklin. And in March the theme apparently was dry, sunny and windless, as if nature needed to catch its breath after all those storms. It was a great time to walk along the old harbor basins of Rotterdam, hoping to capture some beautiful reflections.

Reflection of the facade of the Hogeschool buidling, with the word "Rotterdam" in the water of Wijnhaven harbour in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Reflections of Rotterdam


Sunny and windless, those are ideal weather conditions for creating reflectifications. That’s what I call photos of buildings, trees and other objects, mirrored in slightly undulating water.

Reflection of the apartment buildings 100 Hoog and de Coopvaert in the water of Wijnhaven harbour in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Highrise reflected in Wijnhaven harbour


It’s been a few years since I made an extensive series of reflectifications, after which I wrote this blog post. Painting with waves, the water as a canvas and coincidence as an artist, impressionistic scenes with oil-like qualities, I used those poetic words to describe it at the time.

Reflection of the Cube Houses by architect Piet Blom in the water of the Old Harbour in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The cube houses in the Old Harbour

Flipping the reflection

The method is as follows: I take a photo of only the reflection, without quays, revetments or other context. I use a very fast shutter speed; the images in this blog post were taken with a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second. I then flip that photo around its horizontal axis, with the alienating effect that you seem to be looking up from below the water’s surface.

Historic barges and modern residential buildings, reflected in the water of Wijnhaven harbour in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Boats and buildings

Wind force zero

The right conditions are very rare in the Netherlands. Preferably the wind force should be zero and it almost never is. Moreover, it must be sunny, which produces the most beautiful colors. Reflections of objects in the shadows tend to become a bit gloomy.

The tower of Saint Lawrence's church and the city heating power plant in the water of Delftsevaart canal in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Saint Lawrence’s Church


Of course, the depth and size of the water feature also has an impact on the result. As well as the degree of shelter around it. A pond in the park can often use a breath of wind, but a canal or a harbor provide the most beautiful reflections when it is almost perfectly windless.

The twin towers of the Erasmus medical center, reflected in the water of a pond in Museumpark in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The Erasmus MC Twin Towers

Ducks and coots

These types of photos don’t have to be completely without context. In fact, that is almost impossible; there are almost always twigs, leaves or duckweed floating in the water. Or, less magical, a plastic bag or paper cup. And otherwise there is a duck or a coot that messes up the reflection with its swimming. But actually that can also add something to the picture, provided that it is well timed and/or compositionally sound.

A coot and several buildings at Katendrecht in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, reflected in the water of Maashaven harbour
The Maashaven Coot


And on rivers with a strong current and a lot of shipping you can forget about those reflections. For example, I have never seen cool reflections on the river Nieuwe Maas. All photos with Erasmus Bridge or Hotel New York mirrored in the Maas are fake. But that’s okay, I make those digital reflections as well.

Reflection of a historic vessel and the recently completed residential tower Our Domain in the water of Wijnhaven harbour in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Residential tower Our Domain

New arrivals

Since that previous hunt for reflectifications a few years ago, a number of remarkable buildings have been added to the city. And of course the question was whether they would create interesting reflectifications. With the Zalmhaven Tower, that was certainly possible; we see it mirrored here in Wijnhaven, Scheepmakershaven, Westersingel (3x) and in a pond in the Park.

Collage of the Zalmhaven tower in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, reflecting in various canals and harbours
Six times the Zalmhaven tower


As mentioned, the perfect conditions, with just the right amount of waves, are extremely rare. A mirror-smooth water surface usually does not produce a very exciting image, but with a little movement in the water it quickly becomes too abstract. However, sometimes also an abstract picture has a mesmerizing beauty.

Abstract image, created by the reflection of a quay wall and the adjacent building in the water of Rijnhaven harbour in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Rijnhaven quayside reflections

Instant nostalgia

In the meantime it has become April and that month seems to have adopted the cold, wet and windy theme. This gives these pictures an instant nostalgic value. A beautiful memory of a time, so recently, when spring seemed to have started. Fortunately we still have the photos.

Reflection of the Cool Tower, under construction, in the water of Leuvehaven harbour in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The Cooltower under construction
Rotterdamse verspiegelingen / Reflectifications of Rotterdam


And if anyone is interested in one of these Rotterdam reflections to decorate a wall, they are available in various materials and sizes in my online gallery.

Cosy but somewhat humid living room under the water surface, with on the wall a photo of the White House in Rotterdam reflecting in the water of the Old Harbour
Under the water surface…

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Spam-controle: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.