REFLECTOGRAPHS were exhibited at Right Window Gallery, San Francisco, April 2-27, 2019

Alan W. Bernheimer (1913-2006) was a scientist whose avocations included naturalist, printer, inventor, and photographer. In the 1960s he began creating REFLECTOGRAPHS––cameraless photographs made by a point of light reflected onto photosensitive paper.

Light is bounced off a polished surface that acts as an imperfect lens, focusing and distorting it to produce intricate shapes and patterns. The texture or fine structure in some REFLECTOGRAPHS is a result of diffraction and interference caused by numerous microscopic scratches in the reflecting surface. Initially using household objects such as glass or metal platters for reflectors, Bernheimer published a book of the images in 1967.

Over the next decades his imagery became increasingly sophisticated, evolving from stark figures on a white ground (8″ x 10″)

to larger (16″ x 20″), more elaborate and suggestive images extending past the edge of the frame, with reflectors as diverse as hubcaps and mylar.

Untitled, 1972


Untitled, 1968

Study of historical photographic methods led him to introduce tints by applying chemical toners after the images were developed. He also experimented with color, using filters and Ektachrome paper.

Untitled, 1970


Eight Rockets, 1969


Untitled, 1971


Untitled, 1975


Untitled, n.d.


Untitled, 1977

Contact: info [at]

Text and images © Alan Bernheimer


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