Saturday, May 13, 2006

Confusing reflections

click photo to enlarge
Reflections are confusing aren't they? When you look in the mirror the face that stares back at you is not quite the face that everyone else sees. That's because faces are rarely symmetrical, and the mirror reverses features with which we have become familiar. My wife tells me that in the mirror my face looks "lop-sided"! So does hers, but I'm too much of a gentleman to mention such a thing!

Similarly, in the mirror our left hand appears to be our right hand, and writing gets confusingly flipped. I've never understood the way that some emergency vehicles have their name written on the bonnet so that it can be read correctly in the rear-view mirror of the car in front. If that is necessary for the driver to realise that the big brightly coloured vehicle behind with the deafening siren is a fire engine, won't the writing just confuse all the other drivers on the road, and don't they need it the correct way round so they know its a fire engine too?

And what about reflections in puddles? They usually turn other people upside down, though if you're Narcissus looking into a pool you get yourself the right way up. The photograph above shows my wife reflected in a puddle next to a column. The ground around has red tarmac, and the effect of this is to make the image look very bloody. I took this photograph the right way up of course. However, when I flipped it through 180 degrees I liked the disconcerting effect that it has on the viewer's perceptions. The picture looks "right" until you see the feet. By showing the photograph like this I feel, in some small way, to be getting my own back on these confusing reflections! Now, having got that off my chest, I think I'll go and lie down!!
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen