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Janhavi Asthana

Shooting into a mirror to increase hyperfocal distance

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Posted (edited)

Hello good people of cinematography,

I'm making my diploma film soon and as a student there are many limitations to my shooting, but nobody stopping us from dreaming big right?

So I've decided to shoot with tele lenses and have deep focus, as much as possible. And this is for the shots that I'm taking in the interiors of an apartment which is on the fourth floor. Ofcourse that would require more lights and space to shoot. Since I don't have a lot of liberty for either, I was thinking that I could increase my hyperfocal distance by shooting into a mirror? 

People who have done this before, what are the pros and cons of it? Should I take this step or I can do soemething else outside of the box? Looking forward to hear all of your opinions on this. Thankyou! 🙂


Edited by Janhavi Asthana
forgot to add the image

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It's the same depth of field whether or not you bounce into a mirror 3' away or back up the camera with no mirror at 6' away, either way, the subject is 6' away.

If you're using the mirror because you don't have enough space, you'd need to get a front surface mirror.

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The mirror is also called a "first surface mirror." Wiki link :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_surface_mirror

Take care not to scratch the surface as it's unprotected. I would get a couple for this reason. Accidents do happen.

Here's a link on cleaning as well: https://www.advancedoptics.com/how-to-clean-AlSiO-coated-front-surface-mirrors.html#:~:text=Gently wipe the mirror surface,leave any streaks or spots.

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I'd imagine the challenge of rigging the mirror to get the angle required while keeping it clean and not getting unwanted elements in shot would be tricky. 

The visual gain in look - may well be offset by the effort needed to achieve it. For instance if shot doesn't quiet work on the day, it's going to be more difficult to adjust it on the fly.

Maybe think of other ways to make your location work for you, deep(er) focus can also be achieved in other.

Or if you are jumping through this many hoops to try and make a location work, maybe just get a better location. Sometimes you can get creative tunnel vision once you get locked into a location, where the best option might to take a step back and really think if its best place to realise the scene. 

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Also keep in mind that if you’re shooting the subject in a mirror, then they will be flipped horizontally, which you may not want if it’s not supposed to look like their reflection.

Even if there are no obvious tells like backwards logos on clothing or a distinctive hair part, most people’s faces are not perfectly symmetrical. So your actors may look ‘not like themselves’ in the mirror reflection. That’s ok when it’s obvious they are looking into a mirror, but might be odd otherwise.

If you just want to change the background behind the actor in a tight shot, then a large front-surface mirror behind them on a stand can work well. 

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