Palm Trees in Car Hood, Tempe AZ

It can be a tricky business, taking photos of reflections in/on car surfaces. There’s the interpersonal side of things: Not everyone is happy to return to their parked car to find a stranger apparently peering into it or taking a photo of it. And restricting my art to our vehicle is so constraining. 

And then there’s the optical side of things: there often seems to be a larger reflection hidden deeper (in the hood especially). A larger reflection that is inaccessible from any angle I have open to me. Here is one such.

Unmodified photo of reflectionin car hood to show composition problems
What I saw.

No matter how I tried to scrunch lower or stand taller, I could not see more of the palm trees and less of the distracting bits.

Cropping helped some, but not enough.

Collage of reflection photos to show compisition problems
My cropping options

And then, of course, there are the location-specific challenges. Although our part of Arizona is usually blessed with clear air and blue skies, it’s also usually cursed with dust-covered car hoods.



  1. barbara

    The third one has that vertigo you get looking up at a plane underneath a palm tree.

    (Enjoy that clear sky, hot sun — today we are in whiteout conditions. Snow top to bottom.)

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Barbara – I know what you mean about vertigo. I get that sometimes if I bend back too far to look up at trees – and I don’t think it’s the bending as such but the visual wrongness of the view.

  2. An excellent study, plus a good commentary conveying the frustration of internal vision overcome by external vision. Although the cars in the original photo are a bit distracting, they are also usefully informative. Beats the snow that fell here last night on every count!

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Judith – Yes, sometimes the bit I don’t want actually make it clear that it *is* a reflection – and what the source of that reflection is. Always with the trade-offs. 🙂

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