Sunday, 20 June 2010

How to Take Photographs Through Glass and Perspex

By Danielle Lancaster

Photography through glass and Perspex can be tricky. There is a myriad of situations where we could be faced trying to grab that image through glass or Perspex:  a car, plane or coach window, through plate glass at a zoo or aquarium, along a street, through a display case and the list goes on.

Glass and Perspex reflect light and reflections are a bane to photographers. Why? Because what our brain tells us we see we don’t really see. We need to develop a photographer’s eye as the camera does not lie. We need to tune those reflections back in to our brain and really see them before we can deal with them.

Another problem often faced when photographing through these substrates is some cameras have difficulty focusing on the subject; instead the camera tries to focus on the reflection.

We also often see loss in image sharpness due to uneven glass and the images may look ‘muddy’ simply because the windows were dirty. Its one reason when I go up in a helicopter or plane my first question is ‘can I have the doors off or open?’

So here’s a few quick tips to help you face the challenges of photographing through glass:

When the sun is behind you, reflections are at a minimum.

Shoot at an oblique 45 degree angle to the glass.

Use a circular polarising filter. Remember they can accentuate the stress marks in the Perspex and spots on the glass.

Don’t use flash. If you have to, diffuse it, if possible bounce it and move the flash head to an angle so the reflected light from the flash bounces off the glass at an angle. You don’t want it coming straight back into the camera lens. A fast lens will often eliminate the need for flash.

Hold the camera as close to the glass as possible without touching it. A rubber lens hood is perfect for cutting out unwanted light.

When shooting through glass from within a moving object like a helicopter or coach use a fast shutter speed. Try pre focusing or continuous focusing. Use a mid range aperture to lengthen your depth of field which may assist with any focusing difficulties.

If hand holding and your lens has vibration reduction (VR), or image stabilisation (IR), use it!

It’s better, especially when doing photography from within a moving vehicle to wear dark clothing to minimise your own reflection.

  Image taken at Australia Zoo by Anita Bromley

 One of our favourite places is Underwater World on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
Image supplied by Underwater World.

 Another from Underwater World
Image by Danielle Lancaster


Babs said...

Great tips, fantastic photos :)

dimz said...

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