I've always wondered looking at photographs of shiny Christmas ornaments...how were those photos taken without reflecting the photographer or the camera setup?

These days, I can imagine that digital manipulation can easily erase the reflections.

But what about in the old days? In my mind, shooting through a 45-degree angled two way mirror would do the trick, but am I over complicating the setup? How was this done?



1 Answer 1


Unless the photos you're thinking of were retouched, whatever you see reflected in the ornaments is the photographer's setup. The trick is to make that look like something other than a photography studio. That means two things: 1) provide the environment that you want reflected, and 2) hide or camouflage the things (like the camera) that you don't want to see. To accomplish that, you can set up some props such as a bowl of fruit, a vase of flowers, pine branches, etc. to create the environment you want. A studio soft light can be modified to look like a window, or you can just use a real window for light. The camera can be hidden among the props or concealed (except for the lens, of course) behind some black cloth so that it blends into the scene, and a remote trigger can be used to keep the photographer out of the scene.

A long lens can help, too: with spherical objects like Christmas tree balls, reflected objects become tiny very quickly as distance increases. For example, using a 100mm macro lens instead of a 50mm macro lets you get the camera twice as far away from the subject, and that makes the camera's reflection much smaller.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I seem to recall definitely having seen closeups of Christmas tree balls that didn't have obviously (or surreptitiously) camouflaged setups. Thanks for the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – marc
    Dec 27, 2012 at 23:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Caleb, great answer, I love the idea of hiding yourself within the photo! I guess having the camera on timer of using a remote means you just have to hide the camera though! \$\endgroup\$
    – AidanO
    Feb 28, 2013 at 15:47

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