Old School Mirror Reflections in Camera.


Old School Mirror Reflections in Camera.

This is an old technique that is really easy, diverse yet always delivers a unique image.

Reflections, or rather reflective surfaces.

I am going to explain or mention several different approaches. Some are very DIY, easy yet full of wow.

Way back in film days we tried to get all the effects in camera. The reflection or mirror images were easy.

You could shoot across the hood or roof of a polished car. The color did not really matter; it seemed to cancel out, but the reflection had a watery effect.

Wanting it on demand we would find a small mirror, square was best, that was about double the diameter of the lens. It would be about 4 inches wide. The width was not overly critical. You put the edge of the mirror to the bottom part of the lens. Hold it on the outside edge so fingers didn’t show.

Looking through the viewfinder, the mirror is tilted up to get the reflective effect you wanted. Moving the horizontal back edge up and down the lens brought a range of different effects, too. Occasionally, we would mist the mirror surface. You can come up close to your subject or back away. It was great for making a messy foreground vanish.


After having a few mirrors break in my camera case I found plexi-glass mirrors worked just as well.

Often, we would bring along jugs of water. Find a slight indent in the land or pavement then dump a skim of water into it. Put the camera right on the ground, lens up to the water to create a great lake look. This will work even in winter time, just work fast before it freezes.

I just recently saw fire being added to the mix. One guy squirted lighter fluid on the edge of the created water “pond”, set up the shot and subjects then lit the fluid for dancing flames. Another used a larger mirror, looked like it was a foot by 2 feet. He placed the lighter fluid around the outer edge, posed everyone, then lit the mirror for the shot. Like with water he got the subjects’ reflection surrounded by flames.

It took less than 2 minutes to set up and get the shot.

Of course, I am from Calgary where bigger always seems the way to go. I started using 8×4 foot sheets of mirror plexi and black plexi. It seemed a perfect use with Donna’s two sets of twins. She so loved the effect she altered the renos to her home’s front entrance to showcase her image.

Most of my water set shots use on this approach. We set up a wood framework with a rubber liner to hold the skiff of water. It gets deeper as we spray and splash my client. I get down low so the wide-angle lens nearly touches the water to get the full mirror effect. I can splash for water texture; add fog, mists and sprays. Amanda’s image as a near white silhouette showcases the effect.

X1076D-0144AW bw ver

I remember the first time I saw the Bow River used as a mirror this way. The photographer had gotten down low to the waters edge, his wide angle lens made the relatively narrow bow river look like a lake or ocean the city was poised over. It took a bit for my mind to register this was Calgary. Somewhere buried deep in my negative files is a few of my versions of this idea.

I have used the same approach with some mountain shots.

Of course now you can buy software like Flaming Pear’s Flood filter to get the effect. In Photoshop you can just flip the image for that instant effect.

I gotta say though, doing it in camera creates a wonderfully organic look that software does not quite give.

Try some of these, you will love the results, nothing can be easier than holding up a mirror to your lens. Can you imagine fireworks with that

_G0R3207 guy process mirror mountain

Leave a Comment

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