Photograph an optical illusion using a magic mirror

Optical illusion portrait using a magic mirror
(Image credit: James Paterson)

Reflections are a great way to add intrigue to your images by offering a glimpse of the scene beyond the edges of the frame. Whether it’s a reflected mountain in a lake, a street scene caught in a shop window, or a landscape glimpsed in a car wing mirror, reflections show the world beyond the edges of the viewfinder, a natural frame-within-a-frame. And this makes it all the more captivating when we see an unnatural reflection like the one we’re showing in the mirror here. 

Two photographs were used to create this image: one of the model, and the other of the empty scene. (Obviously, you need an interesting location – a blank wall won’t do!) By putting the camera on a tripod, we can ensure that both frames are perfectly aligned. It’s then possible to remove the face of the mirror in Photoshop, revealing the empty area beneath. The result is a striking portrait that forces you to look twice.

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James Paterson

The lead technique writer on Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, James is a fantastic general practice photographer with an enviable array of skills across every genre of photography. 

Whether it's flash photography techniques like stroboscopic portraits, astrophotography projects like photographing the Northern Lights, or turning sound into art by making paint dance on a set of speakers, James' tutorials and projects are as creative as they are enjoyable. 

He's also a wizard at the dark arts of Photoshop, Lightroom and Affinity Photo, and is capable of some genuine black magic in the digital darkroom, making him one of the leading authorities on photo editing software and techniques.