Intro: Make Your Own Claude Glass or Black Mirror
I liked the idea of the Claude Glass, having a large collection of film cameras myself, I thought it would be the ultimate hipster way to take a picture.
This is a very simple instructable, and as you can see I got some nice results.
- If you read to the end, there is a bonus 'Quick & Easy' method too.
A Claude glass (or black mirror) is a small mirror, slightly convex in shape, with its surface tinted a dark colour. Bound up like a pocket-book or in a carrying case, black mirrors were used by artists, travellers and connoisseurs of landscape and landscape painting. Black Mirrors have the effect of abstracting the subject reflected in it from its surroundings, reducing and simplifying the colour and tonal range of scenes and scenery to give them a painterly quality.
Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools
- An old overhead projector lens
- Black Spray Paint
- Masking Tape
- Methylated spirits
- Portion of felt (optional)
- Stanley Knife (boxcutter)
- Lint free cloth
- Camera equipment (I was using a DLSR, I found a 50mm prime lens worked best, so recommend any long prime lenses)
- Spraybooth / Scrap of cardboard
Step 2: Clean and Mask
Next you want to mask off the front of the lens. This is the side that you will look into aka the convex side (the side that bulges towards you).
I also wrapped around the very edge of the lens also.
The reason we do this is that the spray paint will sneak underneath when painting (There was lots of specks on my masking tape after painting)
I then used a lint free cloth and a little Methylated spirits to clean the side of the lens we will be applying paint to. Try not to touch this side before you paint it.
Step 3: Paint the Rear.
Now we are going to paint the concave side of the lens.
Put down some scrap card outside, or use a spray booth.
As always with spray painting you want to do many light coats. The first coat will not full cover the lens.
If the paint starts to drip, you have put too much on. Feel free to have go on a scrap piece of plastic.
For the most part its very hard to do a bad paint job as the final finish on this side is not important. The smooth side is right against the glass.
Whatever you do, do not touch the paint to test if its dry a finger mark could easily ruin this project. Wait a good 10-15 minutes before handling (note you can put new coats on after only 5 minutes or so).
Step 4: Take Some Photos
Going to right a few pointers on how you can use this to take some nice pictures. Obviously you can use it as per the original for drawing pictures.
Firstly I found using a long prime lens helped best, it allows you to take a close up picture of the lens without getting too much of your own reflection in it.
You can see the angle I was holding the glass at in order to not get my camera and myself in it.
A less convex lens would allow you to take a picture more squarely, but in turn would have less of a viewing angle.
I think my tip would be less convex for photography, more convex for drawing.
Finally, I used a spare bit of felt to protect this while out in the field. However they were originally in little cases or little notebooks, so I may make something along those lines for it.
Step 5: Quick & Easy Bonus Method
If you want to have a go at using a Claude Mirror, but do not really want to make one, or are struggling to find a suitable lens then this bonus method is for you.
It is very likely you can have something that will do the job right next to you.
Your touchscreen phone!
While not quite as reflective as the hand made option, it makes for a good alternative as you are likely to have it with you.
The downside to the smart phone is because its flat, it has a much smaller field of view.
Either way, here are some examples taken using the smartphone, as well as a one of the Claude glass so you can compare easily.
I hope you enjoy the instructable. Please post pictures of your own in the comments.