Idea: Photograph Your City Skyline in the Reflection of a Lens


Here’s a neat photo idea: capture a city’s skyline in the reflection on the front of a camera lens. Photographer Christopher Anderson recently shot this picture of the Minneapolis, Minnesota skyline — a picture that landed on the front page of Reddit.

Anderson tells us,

I was out shooting at a fairly popular lookout spot that overlooks Highway 35W and Minneapolis in the distance. After initially taking a few photos, I tilt my lens upwards to find some dust on my filter. I suppose I tilted it at the right angle where I noticed Minneapolis was reflecting in my filter. Yes it’s reflected in the filter, not the lens, but I thought reflecting in my lens had a better ring than filter.

It was just something I thought was neat so I took out my iPhone and took a few snaps of Minneapolis reflecting off my filter.

A crop showing a closer view of the reflection

A crop showing a closer view of the reflection

The Reddit post also attracted its fair share of skeptics, with some commenters accusing Anderson of using digital manipulation on the image.

Many started claiming it was Photoshopped. How can the lens and body of the camera be out of focus, but the skyline and grass be in focus? How come the reflected image is much darker? There were even people asking why the grass in the reflected image is overgrown, but the grass beneath my camera is mowed, haha.

Here’s a short followup video Anderson created afterward, showing how you can shoot the same photograph using a polarizing filter:

You can check out some of Anderson’s serious photo work over on his website.

Image credit: Photograph by Christopher Anderson and used with permission

  • Mark N

    The fact that the reflection is in focus while the lens body is blurred is as expected. The same thing happens when you photograph a reflection of a distant scene in a puddle – the reflected scene is in focus while ground around the puddle is OOF.

  • Alan Klughammer

    I use a reflection of myself on the LCD screen as my avatar in a lot of places. Reflections are cool…

  • kris andersen

    fake and gay!!!!!!

  • kris andersen

    chris is a big fat phony!!!!!!

  • Rabi Abonour

    That’s a cool trick, but I would argue it’s not an idea of something to try; now that I’ve seen it once, I don’t really need to see it again.

  • Tommy Sar

    I swear, some of those skeptics are moronic.

    This is why some get eye strain from looking at a reflective tv or monitor. Your eyes are trying to focus on both the surface and reflection.

  • DesertandSeas

    Why did you try to minimize his work?
    You never know when an idea that isn’t yours just might make a client or a friend’s day. Put it in your bag, use it, and make sure folks know it’s not your idea-because you’re a photog with integrity, right?

    Thanks for the pretty cool photo idea Mr. Anderson. Congratulations on making front page of Reddit!

  • Chief

    Thanks for representing the Minni-apple. I can see my office in the reflection.

  • kendon

    technically, it’s the filter that reflects, not the lens. reflections in lens front elements are far fainter than that.

  • Cameron Prescott

    This is definitely a cool idea, but why bother trying to emulate this shot? I saw it, it was cool, but the next time I see it it won’t be.