Mirrors are sometimes the subject of a photo; you can see a mirror-like effect within a scene striking enough to be the subject itself, and sometimes, mirrors in photography are a tool of the trade used in creating lighting effects within the photo.
Sometimes you are shooting mirrors. and the challenge is all about controlling what is reflecting into them. Allowing the light to gradate across the surface of the mirror, helps the viewer to understand they are looking at a mirror. This is made even more challenging when they are surrounded by metallic reflective surfaces! This is fun technical shooting of the highest caliber. Thankful for that degree about now!
Sometimes you are out shopping on Olvera Street and find the craziest silliest mirrors that you would just LOVE to hang on your wall, even though you have no idea how it would ever work with your understated vintage feel???!!!! Love these!!!
Sometimes you find yourself looking into the most beautiful natural mirror while hiking through Yosemite and cannot move, engrossed in the parallel visual experience. I actually sat down here and attempted to draw this, and I am a photographer?! Stunning!
Sometimes you can use mirrors as a lighting aid as well. When photographing a subject upon which you would like to be able to add a highlight in the shadow area, use the mirror to:
- add the perfect defining line around the edge of the subject, by reflecting your light source (shown here as a small strip light) at the incident 90 degree angle to the lens. See in this final photo the effect in all the left side highlights in the water and on cubes. All reflections on right and top are from strip light visible in the shot.
- or just add a pop of light in the dark areas by reflecting the general light direction to the lens . The quality of this mirror reflected light is very different from a white card. The quality of “shadow edge transfer” is different and the effect provides more contrast, and more definition within the subject, bringing out the texture in food for example.
- substitute additional light source! It’s more economical and can work very well when low on available light or light sources. They are light weight and easy to carry in a small kit.