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The Dark Room -- Photo Editing and Picture Taking. Advice, tutorials, questions on all things photoshop, photo editing, and taking pictures of beads or glass.

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  #1  
Old 2012-04-22, 8:40pm
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Default Photographing a Mirror Finish

I was wondering if anyone had any tricks for photographing a reflective mirror finish to eliminate the ability to see the camera or my hands...



Thanks in advance for any and all advice...
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Old 2012-04-23, 4:42am
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Hard

Back right off so you're photographing from a longer distance then crop in in photoshop
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Last edited by PerfectDeb; 2012-04-23 at 4:45am.
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  #3  
Old 2012-04-23, 4:42pm
Mike Jordan Mike Jordan is offline
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You need to keep yourself in the dark. I'm always in the dark, so if I can do it, anyone can.

You need to control your light so that it falls on your shiny surface but not on anything you don't want to show up. You can do it like Deb said and back off. I've done that using a 200mm zoom so I could zoom in on the part I wanted. I'd rather control the light if I can but you will need light that you can control with barn doors, gobos, black cardboard, black cloth or something to block where the light is going except where you want it too. If you are going to use a light tent, you want the hole where your lens looks through to be as small as you can make it. That will be less dark area show up in the image against the white. What I much prefer to do is use a completely dark room and not use a light tent but just light the object. This way it stands out a whole lot more.
This lily is sitting on a mirror in a dark room with black cloth behind and over it and just the flower lit:



It really works to isolate your object.

Mike
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Old 2012-04-24, 6:09am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Jordan View Post
You need to keep yourself in the dark. I'm always in the dark, so if I can do it, anyone can.

You need to control your light so that it falls on your shiny surface but not on anything you don't want to show up. You can do it like Deb said and back off. I've done that using a 200mm zoom so I could zoom in on the part I wanted. I'd rather control the light if I can but you will need light that you can control with barn doors, gobos, black cardboard, black cloth or something to block where the light is going except where you want it too. If you are going to use a light tent, you want the hole where your lens looks through to be as small as you can make it. That will be less dark area show up in the image against the white. What I much prefer to do is use a completely dark room and not use a light tent but just light the object. This way it stands out a whole lot more.
This lily is sitting on a mirror in a dark room with black cloth behind and over it and just the flower lit:



It really works to isolate your object.

Mike
That is brilliant! Beautiful, I've copied that to my notes
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  #5  
Old 2012-04-24, 6:58am
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that picture is simply amazing... Wow!
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  #6  
Old 2012-04-24, 3:45pm
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Thanks, Deb and Liz. The mirror is a large front surface mirror. Most mirrors are back surface mirrors so when you get a reflection it reflects from both the glass and the mirror surface on the back side, causing a double image when viewed from an angle and really noticeable when the object is resting on the mirror. I've been wanting to shoot some glass on it but I've not created anything that I thought would really look good this way. I've bought a few marbles and things from people that used a torch to create them (rather than fused glass like I do) but they were on the small side so didn't work very well. The bigger things, paper weights and globes that some of the torch works have made are gorgeous and would work great, but they are usually a bit expensive to buy just to take pictures of them. So I just keep watching for something or maybe someday I'll fuse something that will look good done on a mirror like this.

Mike
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Old 2012-04-24, 4:17pm
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Beautiful photo, Mike.

If anyone wants to make a photo like the above:

Delphi has a 12 X 16 first surface mirror for around $30.

You can scavenge first surface mirrors from old copiers, not very large
though, and dichroic coated lenses you can melt and make into beads

One thing to note:

The coating on a first surface mirror is REALLY easy to damage
so you have to be very careful when handling or placing anything
on them.

Last edited by Role; 2012-04-25 at 10:22am.
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  #8  
Old 2012-04-25, 4:15pm
Mike Jordan Mike Jordan is offline
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You are correct, Role. You have to be careful putting things on them as well as how you clean them. I use a microfiber cloth to clean mine. The other thing is they are a dust magnet. I was using lens brush on mine to try and keep the dust off the mirror and still ended up having to do some dust spotting in Photoshop. Because most dust is light colored (I think mine was albino dust on the day I was shooting with the mirror) it shows up really well reflecting light against the black. Mine is a little bigger than that (I think 16x1 that I found on the internet on a site that sold mirrors for making Kaleidoscopes and things like that that use front surface mirrors. For those that google for them, they also go by the name first surface as well as front surface.

Copier glass is also low iron so it doesn't have the green tinge that regular float or plate glass has. I've been saving some so that someday I can make another small tank to hold water to place things in to shoot. I used regular plate glass to make my first tank that I filled up with tonic water and then put flowers and fruit in for the bubble effect. It should be better with the low iron glass.

Thanks for the comment on my picture, Role.

Mike
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Old 2012-04-26, 7:09pm
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How about shooting through a "mask" maybe using a black drape cloth between you and object and just the camera lens through a hole in the drape and nothing else showing... But lighting will be critical, try to keep it on object and not on cloth drape... Also move back away from object as much as camera lens will allow...

Dale
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Last edited by Dale M.; 2012-04-26 at 7:11pm.
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  #10  
Old 2012-04-28, 7:18am
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Thanks everybody!! I will try these suggestions!
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  #11  
Old 2012-05-08, 10:01am
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Also use a tripod and remote shutter. Takes you right out of the equation (hands wise that is)
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  #12  
Old 2012-05-11, 5:32pm
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Great tips and a beautiful photo, Mike!
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  #13  
Old 2012-06-06, 6:04am
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I just picked up the book Light Science and Magic to help me with photographing beads and reflective objects. I am not too far into it but it looks like it is filled with great suggestions and ideas.
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  #14  
Old 2012-06-06, 4:01pm
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That is a good book, I've had it for years. Another good one is Still Life and Special Effects Photography. On that isn't as good as the other two but still a decent book is Lighting for still life. There are a number of excellent lighting book available that aren't specific to still life but cover a lot of good information about lighting.

Mike
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Old 2012-06-06, 4:40pm
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FWIW if this is for Etsy, I just read in another thead that Etsy advises people to NOT shoot on a dark background.
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  #16  
Old 2012-06-06, 10:05pm
Mike Jordan Mike Jordan is offline
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I'm not sure why they would advise people of that, Elizabeth, unless it has something to do with how Etsy compresses and sizes the images. Dark to black backgrounds can really bring out the object and show it at it's best. I like a dark background better than white most of the time. Of course it depends on the object you are shooting. Some things will look better on a lighter background and some on a darker. Most people don't know how to really shoot on either though, without getting a gray background rather than white or a muddy object rather than a well lit one on a dark background. It can be tricky if you don't know lighting.

Mike
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