Sun & Moon Reflections Don’t Do the Railway Lines Perspective Thing

You know that perspective rule with the railway lines, where they get further and further apart as they come towards you? Usually stated as the lines getting closer and closer together as they recede into the distance, meeting at a vanishing point on the horizon?
Perspective in train track

Well, it’s not true for the reflection of the sun or moon in sea.*

So please stop painting reflections getting wider and wider in a neat band as it comes towards you, because it doesn’t follow that perspective rule. The distances are too great. The Moon is too far away, and the sun even more so.

Movement in the water, ripples and cross currents, can also have an impact on how the reflection appears. This photo might seem to prove this:

Sunset over the Minch.

But it’s more complicated than that because, when I took the photo, nature was playing optical illusions. The sun is in fact still fairly high above the horizon, hidden by cloud, and what’s reflected in the sea is both the sun and the band of light coming towards you (not getting wider).

Sketching the river at Uig, Isle of Skye
Reflections, ripples, autumnal colours…

*Same is true for reflections of trees, and shadows cast by sunlight and moonlight. Your camera will lie to you and show it otherwise if it’s set on any kind of wide angle. Be aware.

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