A combination of theoretical perspectives is used to create a rich description of student reasoning when facing a highly-geometric electricity and magnetism problem in an upper-division active-engagement physics classroom at Oregon State University. Geometric reasoning as students encounter problem situations ranging from familiar to novel is described using van Zee and Manogue's (2010) ethnography of communication. Bing's (2008) epistemic framing model is used to illuminate how students are framing what they are doing and whether or not they see the problem as geometric. Kuo, Hull, Gupta, and Elby's (2010) blending model and Krutetskii's (1976) model of harmonic reasoning are used to illuminate ways students show problem-solving expertise. Sayer and Wittmann's (2008) model is used to show how resource plasticity impacts students' geometric reasoning and the degree to which students accept incorrect results.