Mirrored Images: An Exercise In Perspective

Can you remember the first time you held a kaleidoscope? Do you remember turning that brightly wrapped cardboard cylinder filled with little bits of colored plastic and mirrors awed by the endless patterns you could create with just a turn of your wrist? While kaleidoscopes may have faded out as children’s toys there is still a powerful message we can gleam from them. Kaleidoscopes are all about perspective. They use mirrors and light to almost endlessly reflect the images of bits of – I hate to say it – junk to create some of the most mesmerizing patterns.

A Tree Grows In Chippewa

A Tree Grows In Chippewa

If you’re like me you’ve gone to art museums, galleries, kitschy shops and a variety other places and have been amazed by some of the things you’ve seen – a sculpture made out of trash that when backlit creates a shadowed image, another made out of rusted nails and screws that you can’t stop looking at because everywhere you look you see something new and interesting. I’ve stared at these things with my jaw on the floor and my eyes alight in wonder – who comes up with this stuff? How do they see that out of a bunch of junk? The answer (as you might have guessed) is perspective. In his new book D30: Exercises for Designers Jim Krause encourages his readers to play, to think outside of the box and one exercise in particular is all about perspective.

Activity 12: Mirrored Images, encourages you to take the pictures you already have and play with them – specifically by reflecting them to create new patterns and perspectives on something that you might otherwise call a junk photograph because it’s blurry, the subject positioning is off, or what have you. With an hour, your hard drive full of photos, and your photo editing software of choice you can gain some much needed perspective, have some fun, and be amazed by what you have just laying around.


Steps 1 – 3

Step 1: Pick a photo, any photo. The more stuff going on the better – I picked a picture of an abandoned rollercoaster’s track by QueenCityDisco.com Photographer, Ronny Salerno.

Step 2: Pick an interesting part of the photo or use the whole thing and get ready to copy, rotate, and be amazed at what you create!

Step 3: Double the length and width of your background canvas size so that you could fit four copies of the photo on the same canvas. Position the photo you’re going to use in the upper left hand corner.

Step 4: Make three copies of this layer and start flipping and reflecting the images. Reflect the first copy horizontally, the second vertically, and the third reflect it down vertically then reflect it again horizontally.

Step 5: Take a step back and admire your work! Isn’t it amazing how an average picture can create something so cool?

Wild Mouse Track Structure

Wild Mouse Track Structure

Step 6: Pick a new photo and start all over again! You’ll be amazed at the gems you can create from some of the old unused photos you have just hanging around.

All Images Used With Permission © Ronny Salerno 2007-2013.


Don’t miss the HOW Design University course based on this book. Register now!

For this and other cool activities check out D30: Exercises for Designers by Jim Krause, now available at MyDesignShop.