Third Thursday Challenge: July

As you know, I am fascinated by the distorted world of reflections. For this month’s edition of the Third Thursday Challenge, I am creating my own version of reflected reality.

All the images in this post were created by “mirroring”  – duplicating, flipping and combining images in such a way as to create a surreal, oddly dreamlike quality. While the images live in the real world, there is something surprising and unexpected about each.

There are many ways to accomplish the mirror effect. Lisa (Lisa Gordon Photography) recently wrote a post demonstrating the mirror effect using one of her fabulous floral images as the base photograph – demonstrating that the effect is not limited to architectural subjects.

The two black and white images in this post were mirrored horizontally. The image below was mirrored both horizontally and vertically, creating a mysterious floating stack – an image with an almost sci-fi feel. I know the abstract nature of these images won’t appeal to everyone. But I am intrigued by what can be created with this method and the uniqueness of the results. Maybe my experiments will inspire one of you to give it a try.

Here are my processing steps:

Photoshop Mirror Steps (CS6)

  • Complete all edits on the original image and save the file.
  • Merge all layers. Convert the Background layer to a regular layer (right-click on Background layer and select the “Layer from Background” option).
  • Expand Canvas Size (Image>Canvas Size). Under the “New Size” section of the menu, change the drop-down to “Percent”, set the Width or Height to “100” and check the “Relative” check-box. The gray square in the center of the Anchor arrows represents the existing image area. Click an arrow to reposition the image relative to the canvas. The arrows point to where the new canvas area will be added. The new area of the canvas will be transparent. These settings will double the size of the canvas in the selected direction.
  • Duplicate the expanded base layer. Transform (CTRL+T) the new layer, selecting the “Flip Horizontal” option (if you expanded the Width of the image) or the “Flip Vertical” option (if you expanded the Height of the image).
  • Using the Move tool, position the flipped layer into the transparent area of the canvas so that the two layers line up and mirror one another. Save the image with a new file name.


Here are the edited images before mirroring:



What is your personal artistic challenge this month? How are you breaking out of your own internal creative boundaries? Share with us, won’t you?

You can read more about the Third Thursday Challenge feature here.  The link will be open through the end of the month so you have plenty of time to participate. I can’t wait to be inspired by your explorations.


Posted on July 18, 2013, in Third Thursday Challenge and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I saw Lisa’s post on this and was totally intrigued – mentally added it to my 3rd Thurs challenges and then promptly forgot. Thank you for the reminder and sharing your steps. I love all of these images, especially the first one and the stacking effect of the second image really does give it a scifi feel. I love how this technique has worked with architecture. Great challenge!

    • Becs – glad to bring this idea back to your attention. Would love to see what you come up with in your own experiments. It is a fun one to play around with!

  2. Well this is rock star cool!! I’m guessing it will work really well with your style. I can see this coming in handy from time to time too. That long hallway, you could totally sell the concept of that being a real hallway by putting the shadows in a different spot. Would be a great compositing tool.
    As always, you’ve got my mind rolling around. It’s finding the time to play. I like all of these, but prefer the BWs. As for the blue one, it gives an optical illsion.
    Thinking about what the hell it is I’ve been doing this month. Yikes, if I don’t know-who does?
    Happy day to you my friend. Thanks for hosting this. I love it.

    • Susan – well, I know I have done something right if you give me the rock star thumbs up! Glad you enjoyed my trip on the surreal side. Would love to see what you could come up with using this technique. Hope to see you join up with this month’s challenge – once you figure out what you have been up to 🙂

  3. Yikes — this really opens up so many possibilities Brenda. I love the blue stacked and the infinity images. This really suits your style so well! I went through a kaleidoscope phase and really enjoyed seeing the transformations. Maybe I’ll try that again. Thank you again for hosting and inspiring us!

    • Gina – I’m glad my experiments have inspired you to do some playing. Kaleidoscopes are fun too – you can really get some interesting and surprising results. Be sure to share!

  4. Oh wow…what a very…creative effect. Love this!!!

  5. Excellent work. I’m especially drawn to the two B&W images–they feel powerful to me, and realistic–that is, they could exist in reality, not that that makes them any better or worse.

    • Anita – that is the challenge with this technique – creating something that looks real within a surreal framework. The optical illusions (like the floating stack) are actually easier because you don’t have to abide by any physical rules. But it is all part of the exploration.

  6. Love these, Brenda. Always love your abstract photography and what a wonderful new tool and process to play and create with. My fav today….the blue pyramid of sorts. Gorgeous!

    Looking forward to diving into this mont’s challenge! 🙂

    • Juli – glad you like my abstract experiments! I look forward, as always, to your challenge – you constantly push yourself artistically and I am eager to see what you will accomplish this month.

  7. Brenda, this is fascinating. Each of your images is an invitation to explore–what’s in the opposite side of the wall? what’s at the very end of the windowed hallway? how can I discover what the blue tunnel is all about? Thanks for sharing such an interesting technique.

    • Wanda – I can’t think of a better compliment than to know my images inspire exploration! I’m glad you enjoyed the mirror technique – I can tell you that it provides plenty of fun.

  8. I’m slow getting around this month, but I made it! I am fascinated with this process. Love them all, but the second one is just simply stunning. My eyes see it two ways, the center being recessed and then the center being the closest point. I like the second way best, It looks like I could step off the center, down the steps, and into the light!

    • Cathy – Oh, I like that you can see the blue abstract two different ways – no one else has mentioned that. That is one of things I enjoy about creating images like these – how many different ways there are to experience the image – how each person see things differently.

  9. Love them all, but especially the last one — very Alice in Wonderland.

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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