Are these reflections real or Photoshopped?

Started Aug 16, 2014 | Questions thread
Mark K W Senior Member • Posts: 1,641
Re: if it is artificial, how is it done??

richardplondon wrote:

These look to me like copied and "flipped" representations only, done up to look vaguely like reflections. Perhaps there were some real reflections in the scene which were considered not mirror-like enough, and replacements faked up in post; but I'm inclined to guess they were simply made up altogether.

Because real reflections show in a different angular perspective, than the direct view does.

For example: say you are standing 50 feet away from a person, and both your eye-point and the subject's face are 5 feet above a mirror surface. You are photographing the person's face straight-on, but photographing the reflection of that as if from a position that is 10 feet lower down (located below, instead of above, the mirror).

You therefore expect to see more of the underside of the model's chin, and less of the top of the model's head, and there'll be more vertical foreshortening, etc. Also the person will be seen very differently against the more distant background - in the reflection the head would be silhouetted higher up, against the sky, instead of being seen positioned in front of the horizon. And so on.

There's no way to turn a direct representation into a reflected representation systematically, by a 2D transform. And whenever you don't see those differential 3D changes of angle in a photo purporting to show a reflection, it looks unnatural and uncanny - however carefully done - the moment your attention is drawn to it.

These images do show 3D shifted alignment. Look very carefully as annotated by me below (and I have looked at several of his similar images and they show similar 3D perspective to the reflections). He has done some tidy-up of antennas, etc., on the sky line and not in the reflection, but look at the detail 3D relative references inside my red circles. It is clearly not a simple 2D reflection.

Of course this kind of slightly disturbing visual effect may have been the photographer's intent here; but if so, it's IMO a rather slick, gimmicky and contrived way to make an impact.

How is it done then, taking into account these 3D relative shifts?

I agree it all looks somewhat false and CGI, but I wonder if it is a real reflection made by some liquid he has poured to a surface he has just swept clean, and then he has both touched up e.g. the real sky, as well as emphasised the reflected surface luminosity and clarity/sharpness. Other of his images are also showing that the water is suitably translucent. Also the images all have a very early morning still and day is just starting feel. So - on balance I think he gets up early in the still morning, pours or finds real still liquid on a clean surface, and then tidies it up and emphasises it in post-production.

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