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Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

In this video I’ll show you how to use a mirror to make it reflected portrait in your small home studio. Hello I’m Gavin Hoey, and you’re watching AdoramaTV, brought to you by Adorama, the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers, and today you join me in my small home studio, where I’m going to show you how to turn this household mirror into some amazing reflective portraits. So all I need to do is to get the mirror out of the frame, then we’ll get a light set, let’s get a model in let’s get shooting.

Check me out today, I’ve got the amazing Jas, Jas is gonna be the model for this, and we’re all set up for the shoot, but before I get going, let’s talk a little bit about the mirror, so I’m using a glass mirror. This is just a standard household mirror, if that’s what you’re going to use as well, make sure you do some preparation before your model gets here. Make sure the edges are all nice and soft, just to make sure they are safe. Next is going to be cleanliness, you honestly can’t clean your mirror enough, so make sure you have a cleaning spray and a soft cloth because you’re gonna have to clean this constantly. Next thing to do is, think about the size and shape of the mirror, basically you want the biggest mirror you can get… I’ve got this one, so this is what we’re going to use.

I have a rectangular mirror which means I’ve got two ways of possibly shooting. I can have it either wide or long. Now the obvious answer is to have it wide.. As you can see, this works really well. We have a nice reflection, we’ll talk about the background in a little bit, but you’ll notice that the length of my mirror is quite short… so if I want to get more reflection…. More at the front, I’m actually gonna spin this mirror around. So let’s just rotate that around like that, and I’ll take the same shot again. So now I’ve got a lot more reflection and mirror in the lower half of my frame, but obviously I’ve lost a lot of width, and that means I’m gonna have to crop these shots a little bit tighter.

Personally I prefer it, because the more you have coming towards the camera, the more of a reflection you’ll have to play with. The background in this shot is my white pop-up background, and you probably notice in the pictures, it’s not really coming out white… it’s sort of a muddy grey, and that’s because of the light at the moment. I’ve got a single eVOLV 200 lighting Jaz, but by the time the light travels to the background, it’s lost some of its intensity, and the background is under lit. So if you want a pure white background, and I do, you need to light that background separately. So I’ve got a second eVOLV 200. I’m gonna pop that right behind Jaz, pointing at the background. Now for this to work I need a lovely evenly lit background, and in a big studio that would be fine, but in my small home studio, that could be a problem. Let’s take a picture and have a look. So as you can see in the center, it is beautifully white. That works really well, but by the edges it’s dropping off to a gray vignette, and in the reflection that’s even more obvious, because the mirror is going to reflect all of that background, even the bits that aren’t directly behind Jaz.

So what I’ve done is, I’ve added a third eVOLV 200. So now I have the background lit by two lights, they’re a little bit further back from Jaz, so none of these lights are gonna actually reach Jaz, they’re only gonna light the background and give me a nice even illumination, but how much illumination is the right amount? Well I could do trial and error, but if you’ve got a flash meter, you can meter this exactly, and get a nice clean white background without losing any detail on your model. So the way it works is this, I know that the light on the front of Jaz is f/4, we metered that earlier. How much light is on the back is what I’m really interested in, so I’m going to get my flash meter. I’m gonna meter off the back of Jaz’s head, and at the moment, with the flashes on their lowest possible power, I’m getting f/2. So I want to go up to f/4, so I’m going to increase the power of both of these lights the same amount until I reach f/4….

Bingo. There I am… so with that set, I should have perfect exposure straight out of camera with my very first picture. Let’s have a look and there we are… first picture, absolutely pure white background. Then there’s the position of the main light, I had it in front of Jaz, but of course you don’t have to keep it there. It made sense, it’s sort of a beauty lighting look with a reflector below. But what happens if I move it behind, well this should give a much more intense slightly more shadowy look, which could work really well with the reflected image.

Let’s try it see how it goes, and that gives a very different look and feel to these pictures. So that’s the lighting setup. What we need to do now is to take this basic idea, and mix it up a little bit so let’s do a shoot. Jaz are you ready? Here we go…. You look right down… so you’re going to look right down on top, into the mirror. Okay that will probably two hands in it’s gonna be symmetry in there.

And bring and arm up and lay it out to the side Then the head slightly… With this one it’s a bit more direction of the light is…. behind… by bringing your other hand in as well. For this shoot I spent time getting the lighting right… ages cleaning that mirror, we even had a hair and makeup artist in, so you might imagine there’s very little post-processing to be done, and you’d be basically right, but there’s always something! Let’s have a look…

So at first glance this picture looks great. But look a bit closer, particularly at the reflection, and you’ll notice some odd things like the weird highlighted reflection, and if I go to the right hand side, yep, I missed a large chunk of mirror just there, now both of those problems are fairly easy fixes, using either healing or cloning here in Photoshop. So to do that, I’m gonna go to layer…new layer… I’ll give it a name you don’t have to, but I’ll call it clone and then I’m gonna use not the clone tool, but the healing brush. With the healing brush I’ll check that ‘sample all layers’ is available, and then all I need to do is sample a good bit of the image… hold the Alt key or the option key on a Mac click somewhere where it’s not damaged, and just paint over the top. remember to re-sample, move your sampling point around and build the effect up.

I think what that is is… just a reflection off the glass. It’s the angle of the light and the low quality mirror, and maybe I just didn’t clean that bit well enough, but this area is all down to me, where I missed a large chunk of mirror… bit more tricky to do, but all I need to do is sample the line of the arm… so I’ll sample there, hold the Alt key and click and then I can line that up, and just paint it in, and it should all line up and look pretty good. Again just remove any weird areas like that… Okay, there we go, so that’s fixed, what about the mirror itself, well the mirror I was using was a thin glass mirror, and that means I’ve got two reflections from the glass, and the mirrored surface below other mirrors will have different effects, but when you look close, it doesn’t quite work how I want.

At first, glance it’s okay, but if you look at it, it’s it’s definitely blurred, that makes sense from the double reflection, but it’s not completely blurry, and it’s not completely clear. I want one or the other, so to make that blurrier I’m actually gonna apply an effect, but first thing to do is to remember to either save this image, or if you’re confident just go to layer and flatten it down. Right, filter there’s lots of ways of doing this. I’m gonna use blur and tilt shift. Now this is a really simple filter, it’s got four lines, and I’m gonna get rid of two of them by getting this upper line and dragging it up above my model. That leaves me a Center Point… a solid line and a dotted line. The solid line is zero blur, and I want to line that up really with the models arm, and then the lower dotted line is 100% to the effect that we dial in.

I’d like this just to graduate out a bit like a depth of field effect. Which is what this whole thing is designed to actually make. The amount of blur will vary, depending on the resolution of your image. I’m gonna go for something mid to high twenties something like that, and then just click OK, and that’s it done. The effect takes a moment to apply, and with a few other adjustments and tweaks, there it is. There’s my final reflected image completed. I’ve always thought that having a mirror in a small home studio is a really bad idea because of reflections, but it turns out if you’re using the mirror as a prop, it’s a great idea.

now if you’ve enjoyed this video don’t forget to leave me a comment below, and of course click on that subscribe button. Click on the bell icon, and you’ll get regular notifications of all of our brand new videos, right here on AdoramaTV, I’m Gavin Hoey, thanks for watching. .

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