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How Do You Keep Yourself And Camera Out Of Bathroom Mirrors?

Published: 09/11/2016

mirrorguyMike in Southern CA says:

Okay I have a question for everybody. When shooting a bathroom some of them are covered in mirrors. How do you guys get rid of the camera in the reflection? Or work around it. I hate Photoshopping my camera out of a mirror

Yes, it's a nuisance to Photoshop things out of images but the reality is, to get the best shot of some bathrooms Photoshopping the camera out of the image is the best way to go. It is not difficult. I find that by spending 5 or 10 minutes in Photoshop, I can get a much nicer, straight on shot of some bathrooms that I like much better than shooting from some wonky angle to get my reflection out of the mirror.

Sometimes you can put something, like a vase of flowers in front of the camera, but that's a long shot. If you are thinking ahead to your post-processing, you can simplify the job of just taking the camera out of the shot.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. When you are setting up the shot, think carefully about what you can do to simplify your job in Photoshop.
  2. The trick is to make sure there is a simple background behind the camera so the camera can easily be cloned out.
  3. If there is a simple blank wall behind the camera it makes it easier to just clone from the surrounding area.

Does anyone have any magic formulas for bathroom mirrors?

Larry Lohrman

19 comments on “How Do You Keep Yourself And Camera Out Of Bathroom Mirrors?”

  1. Another trick not mentioned is to put the camera outside of the bathroom and just to one side using the doorway as a frame. It isn't required to show every bit of every fixture. All you may need is enough to show if it's a powder room or full bath.

    Getting good and fast with erasing the camera from the mirror is just one of those things that an RE photographer has to have in their tool box. Keep the background behind the camera simple if possible. If there is no way to position the camera so it's against a blank wall, the turn-around photo technique isn't all that hard. You can also cheat!. If the background is a piece of furniture, it might be possible to turn that into a blank piece of wall without anybody being the wiser. While it's great to be accurate, the subject of the photo is the bathroom and fudging a little on what's behind the camera is rarely, if ever, going to be noticed. Leaving the camera reflected in the mirror is sloppy.

    4. In a bathroom with several mirrors, do your best to limit the number of camera reflections you will need to remove.
    5. Use the center column of your tripod to raise the camera up to the desired height rather than the legs so there is less to remove.

  2. Mirrors have fascinated me with the classic 'Realtor lean in - flash' they publish in MLS and see it as a way to stand out. Adding to what Ken said...self timer or remote trigger is your friend, avoiding having to Photoshop yourself out. Experiment with camera placement for both background easing your work cloning out, and in the event of multiple mirrors, hide within the edges. Lighting is a whole different issue and one of the few times I may use HDR if multiple shot masking isn't possible. Also, changing the perspective. I have been know to get down in the tub, rising as far as the mirror will permit and with the DOF range of an UWA lens, having the tub controls in the foreground.

  3. Another trick I do is if you have a bathroom with large mirrors that meet in a corner, I'll position my camera to be right in that corner of where the two mirrors join. Then, I'll just use something in the bathroom, or something in the house that will block it, like flowers or some other decoration placed on the counter where those two mirrors join.

  4. I have a love/hate relationship with all mirrors. If I must shoot straight into them I use my timer and get out of frame so there's less to Photoshop out.
    Most bathrooms can be shot from the doorway. I'm big on showing relationships between rooms, and this is how I usually shoot baths.

  5. Some bathrooms are easy some are impossible.
    I hate them and there is no one size fits all solution.
    Many of the baths I photograph are huge (250 sq/ft+) and those are actually the easiest.
    It is the tiny ones that require more effort than the hero images. A Cam Ranger is a huge help.
    HDR layered onto a flash images is possibly the best solution for lighting but in the end one still has to clone a camera out of the shot.
    Too low, or too far back makes the room look weird IMO.

  6. If I can't get a satisfactory angle or easily photoshopped background, then I shoot as low as possible to minimize how much of the camera is showing, if at all.

  7. low angle for bathroom shots I think are OK. here is a sample from a shoot the other day where the bathroom was very small but even at this low tripod height there was still some reflection. 1 turned the camera a little more to the left in the 2nd image to remove the reflection. And although i hate to have door jams or hinges in i think the photo serves its person in a base package.

    click on my name to see the samples.

  8. @Gavin - To me low angle bathroom shots are unacceptable ... rather not shot it. I If a bathroom is worth shooting (and some small ones are not) then it's worth taking a few minutes removing the camera from the mirror.

  9. In my opinion more than 90% of the time you can deal with this by lowering the camera.

    Honestly, yeah it may not be the best composition, but these are bathrooms with a toilet sticking out. I just don't see them as selling points. People can see the tile still, they don't need to see into the sink. The cabinet under the sink becomes overly prominent but like I say it's just not an image to spend any time on at least 90% of the time.

  10. @Larry. What is acceptable to us photographers with a critical eye is often not the same for an agent. is it how I want to shoot the bathroom? No. But on the low-end packages I'm not spending extra time in post removing reflections when I can correct on-site.
    An agent gets an 8 shot package of a 2 bed condo of about 800 sf, they want the master bathroom in it however small. I actually prefer the lower angle over the image in this article. It shows the cabinetry and the bathroom as a whole (even if it highlights the toilet). The image in the article imho is not a bathroom shot, its a shot of a bathroom mirror and the sink.

    @Andrew. agreed 100%

  11. The low angle often enables you to show the tile too. I actually like "showing" small bathrooms from outside looking in and showing some of the room it's connected to. You can usually see everything you need to and it's not a closeup of a toilet.

    The shot at the top I'd rather have just moved over to the right and shot the same thing with no need to clone.

  12. My solution is to directly photograph the bit of the room that appears in the reflection - from an incident angle, and then quickly cut and paste this into the mirror frame (after flipping it in PS, and adjusting the scale/perspective accordingly). Trying to retouch out a tripod/camera combo for a basic job would force me to end my life.

  13. I have been doing this for 16 or so years. Take the image of the bathroom with you in the mirror. Turn the camera around in front of the mirror and take an image where you were standing. Now paste this image over where you were standing. It helps to stand in a doorway so the background is not an issue. This way a clone stamp is not needed.

  14. A lot of times, what's in the reflection is not important. I just select the doorway and fill it with a gradient using the color in the refllection area.

  15. If the mirror isa hanging type, try to tilt the mirror up by crumbling up some toilet paper and put it behind the mirror at the bottom or side. This allows me to shoot at a higher or more advantageous angle. Same if it is a medicine cabinet, open the door just a bit. It isn't noticeable and will Keep you out of the reflection

  16. Shot 1: The main bathroom without being concerned with the reflection: yourself, flashes, hot spots etc. can show in the mirror. This opens up many flash positions.
    Shot 2: The reflection without being concerned with the main room. Stand beside the mirror but out of the reflection and flash into the wall ceiling joint above the mirror lights. (flash on stick)
    Shot 3: Bright ambient to brush out any problem areas.
    PS: Polygonal lasso to mask in the mirror shot and then brush in the ambient as needed. Clone if necessary. If there is a simple scene behind the camera (wall) I've had good luck with selecting a square above the camera reflection and using the free transform option to spread the selection over the camera. It's a lot of work for a small bathroom, but if you need a good shot it's worth it.

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