Half-week homework: Mirrors

“Siddhartha stood still; he bent over the water in order to hear better. He saw his face reflected in the quietly moving water, and there was something in this reflection that reminded him of something he had forgotten and when he reflected on it, he remembered.”

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha (as translated by Hilda Rosner)

Having recently finished reading the intensely meditative masterpiece of German literature, Siddhartha, I couldn’t help but take an introspective dive myself. There are many paths by which to do so, but I come now humbly suggesting one germane to our relevant interests.

Your photography challenge this week is to seek out literal reflections and experiment with mirrors. Metaphorical reflection and personal growth are optional, but highly encouraged. Share your favorite shots with us on our Facebook page or on Instagram tagged #mymikescamera #halfweekhomework!

The things we see are all technically reflections of light, with varying amounts of differently-colored light being absorbed by visible objects (thereby giving them their color and visible textures). Mirrors are special in that they pass on almost all of the light cast upon their surfaces; rather than being seen themselves, they provide alternative visions of other objects.

One of my favorite ways to take advantage of this property is to create analog composite photos. With the right angles and careful placement, you can make an image that appears to have had another pasted on top of it. It’s a great opportunity for yin-yang contrasting images or realistic-surrealism.

The fact that you, the photographer, can easily become a part of the image is another complicating factor. If you don’t want to show up, preventing it is an excellent exercise in visualizing the way that light moves. If you do, on the other hand, the unique qualities of a photographic self-portrait become evident (as opposed to the way one would so a self-representative painting or sculpture). You can show yourself with or without the camera, for example, or you can creatively arrange mirrors to create a truly unexpected composition.

Pro tip: it’s usually quite easy to find mirrors of all sizes and shapes at thrift stores. You can get quite creative without breaking the bank.

Non-human subjects can be fascinating as well. Without digitally altering anything, you can distort or transform bits of the world around you to create a vision all your own. Extend scenes of your own devising with artificial still waters, or gang up a few mirrors to create a vision of infinity. (That one creates a particular challenge if you want to stay out of the image!)

So, put on The English Beat or Michael Jackson and get reflective. Can’t wait to see what you all are able to create!

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