How to avoid reflection in glass photography

If one looks at something for a long time, it seems that it should be of interest. So sooner or later one can find its perfect photo motives. Thinking about how best to see what you see on the table in front of you, rather than what to pay attention to, is a great prerequisite for a good photo. You do not need to set any tasks, but customize your own. This will allow you to take the perfect shot of the flower while walking. Only! And it must be remembered: the ideal does not refer to other views, but only to your own view of things.

Window reflection photography

Reflections and highlights can often be very interesting effects in photography. There are many reflective surfaces: water, metal surfaces, glass etc. The implementation of reflections in an image is as varied as the number of reflective surfaces. It is possible to highlight or hide a mirror surface (for example, focus a lens on a reflective object with a shallow depth of field). An example is a puddle that reflects the sky. You can focus on the sky, or otherwise, at a distance from the surface of the water, you may have to work with manual focus in this case.

It is also possible to duplicate objects using reflections. Windows add another dimension. The action of capturing of what's in front and what's behind in one shot is also allowed in that case. Speaking about curved surfaces, distortion is also observed, which sometimes creates surreal effects. Even with night shots, reflections are a good way to enhance the subject, as night-light objects are repeated on wet surfaces - the street starts to glow.

Photography through glass

There are many fascinating motives behind the glass: animals in the terrarium, paintings or magical landscapes. However, if there is a need to take beautiful photographs, the intermediate panel is often a hindrance, as it creates unwanted mirroring and reflections of light. However, there are a few tricks that easily applicable to avoid that effect. Anyone traveling by plane, car, bus, or train can only see the outside world through a window pane. For travel slideshows, there is nothing to do but take photos through glass. Even the animals in the zoo and beautiful paintings are often left and hidden behind the glass. If the shutter button is pressed inadvertently, there is a risk of getting a mirror image, where reflections from the camera or photographer will be visible.

When shooting through a glass panel, the flash cannot be fired, so shooting in auto mode is not possible. Reflections are very often caused by differences in brightness. If the area in front of the panel, that is, where you are, is significantly lighter than the area behind it, that is, what is the subject of the photograph, then the glass acts like a mirror. Very often, problems are caused by dirt on the glass and accumulation of dust. Considering mentioned information will significantly help taking pictures through glass.

The brightness of the area behind the panel does not often affect shooting through glass, but it cannot always be removed from both sides of the panel before shooting. An easy way to reduce reflections is to take a photo from darkness to light. This reduces lighting effects. If possible, it is necessary to dim the light where the shooting is from. The lights cannot be turned off everywhere, but darkness can be simulated. This is done by placing the lens directly on the glass. It is necessary to bring the lens as close to the glass as possible to avoid reflections from the background or from the photographer himself. This procedure also reduces the amount of light entering the glass surface. However, one should be careful to ensure that the lens does not touch the glass, as rubbing between the two glass surfaces can cause scratches. In this case, use the lens rubber pad. If a lens pad is not used for protection, keep a short, safe distance from the lens.

Use of polarizing filter to avoid reflection in glass

It is also possible to work with depth of focus and layer of focus. If, for example, you are photographing animals in a zoo, or if the windows are dirty outside, you can use the focus ring to adjust the focus level so that reflections, dust or dirt are out of focus and therefore not displayed at all. Often the settings for "landscape mode", if available on the camera, are optimal. Another way to avoid reflections is to use a polarizing filter so that reflections disappear and colour contrasts stand out more clearly. You just need to install that filter in front of the lens and take a photo through it. Rotate the filter until, ideally, all reflections in the glass have disappeared. This can be seen in the viewfinder as well as in the display. However, using polarizing filter, due to the angle of entry and exit of the reflection, is not an option to take photos directly through the window glass. Reflections can only be suppressed with a filter if the picture is taken through the panel at a slight angle. If the lens is tinted, white balance problems may occur. Make sure there is something white in the picture (facade, clouds) that will serve as a guide when editing the image later.

Certain adjustments of polarized filter are vital to have better understanding of how to photograph glass without reflections and shadows. First of all, you need a polarizing filter for your lens. Secondly, you need a different polarizing filter for the light source, that is, for the flash. But at this stage, a simple film with mentioned filter is enough, because a high-quality filter is not required immediately before the flash, but it is needed directly in front of the lens. To avoid reflections and glares, this polarizing filter film is attached just before the flash. This technique is called cross-pole lightning. For simple testing, just point the camera with the filter at a powered laptop or flat screen monitor, so its image should be completely black when the polarizing filter is rotated to the correct position. However, there should be no colour cast, poor filters tend to have a bluish cast. Determining the correct position of the filters in relation to each other is as follows. This “magic” (in our case) filter must be attached to both the lens and the flash. It is necessary to stand with the camera / flash in front of the mirror so that the filter in front of the flash should be visible through the eyepiece of the SLR camera. Next, you need to rotate the polarizing filter in front of the lens until the filter in front of the flash becomes as dark / black as possible, or until the reflector of the flash behind it is no longer visible. Having carried out all these procedures, it can be argued that the correct cross position of both filters is determined and it is possible, if necessary, to make a mark on the filter ring on the lens. It should be noted that with many lenses, when the focus changes, the front segment also rotates. So, of course, its position is changing again. This, of course, needs to be corrected later.

Shooting of reflective objects

The subject of reflections is very complex. Therefore, more than one article has already been written about this. However, until now, it has always been about the fact that the motive itself is reflected in one form or another on the surface. But there is another completely different case that can be faced - this is when the object itself has a reflective surface - so we are talking about reflective objects and the captivating photographs behind them. Thus, it is not the mirror object that is photographed, but, in fact, the reflection in the motive. This mirroring can be very abstract (if it is impossible to see what is reflected in the object), but also very concrete, because it is possible to more or less accurately see another motive in the reflection. The motive depicted in the object is completely abstracted or distorted. This aspect is different from taking pictures through glass and photographing through windows. Professional photography of reflective objects is a very complex and demanding subject that gives headaches even to professional photographers and demand professional settings on photo devices. Initially, you should not go deep into this topic very much, but rather you need to understand some basic things and learn how to achieve great photos with little effort and simple means.

If the object is reflective, of course, the simplest thing is just to take a picture of it. Just taking a picture means that you point the image in the viewfinder over it and let the camera measure the exposure and then take the picture. For example, there is an option take two raw objects that show the problem. Let's say it will be a painted surface and a metal surface. In both cases, the problem is obvious: there is an opportunity to know what was photographed, but there is also something completely different in the photos - the photographer. In some cases this may be appropriate or even desirable, but in general it is not. The viewer should be interested in the photograph, but not with the personality of the photographer in the image. Therefore, you need to find a way to photograph a reflective object in such a way that the photographer (or other unintended objects) cannot be seen in the photograph. This topic as well is closely connected to photographing glass without glare.

Several tricks to avoid reflection in glass

There are several ways how to photograph glass without reflection. The easiest way is to change the angle so that the photographer is no longer be visible in the reflection and the surface is suitable. This means: that you need to think about what needs to be reflected, as well as to change the perspective (if possible). Gloss balls can be used for training. At first it may seem as if the pictures do not meet the artistic requirements, but they will demonstrate exactly the desired effect. It is very important to change the angle of the camera so that the background or any other form of reflection is visible that does not correspond to the direct projection of the reflection. After that, the photographer will no longer be able to see himself in the recording, but will be able to “admire” the reflection himself. If necessary, the camera can be installed on the tripod.

There are other ways to avoid reflection in glass photography. In the examples mentioned above, a completely different form of reflection was considered. This reflection is not about the fact that other motives can be seen in the reflection, but rather that the reflection gives the motive “plasticity”. This is achieved through the shape of the lighting. The general principle behind the reflection structure is that light does not come from the direction of the camera is looking from. It is very important not only that there is no light from the camera itself, but also that the background is dark. For this, for example, you can use dark hood. The effect in this type of reflection is based on the shape of the cluster of light. There should be no light or very little light from the photographer's side. Light sources should be located to the side of the photographed subject. These can be permanent light bulbs or flashlights. Both sources (it's basically a matter of configuring which one to use and how) are used side-by-side. As a result, there is only reflection depicted in the form of mirroring in your own motive. But it is these reflections that give the object its plasticity. This means that photography is two-dimensional, these are the reflections of light, that add a third dimension to photography.

Light and reflection

Considering the topic of reflection in glass, the aspect of photography with glasses is quite relevant. During a photo shoot with glasses, it can very quickly happen that reflections from the flash are visible on the glass. And while most glasses already have an anti-reflective coating, this is not a panacea for mirroring. The reflections in the lens are really annoying. The angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. This physical law is all that needs to be observed when lighting portraits with glasses. Therefore, it is important that the angle between the light and the glass should be increased. Reflections occur when the angle between the light source and the lens is too small. Therefore, the main goal when photographing with glasses should be to increase the angle of incidence of light on the lens. This can be achieved by setting the flash as high as possible so that the angle of the lens to the flash becomes wider.

Finding the perfect location is important. Because if the light is set too high, there will be no more reflections, but there will be no more light in the eyes or too much shadow under the chin. When photographing in a room with a low ceiling or in the open air, the person being photographed should tilt his head down more. Thus, the angle of the glass to the light is also larger again. Nevertheless, since in this case a double chin quickly appears, the model needs to turn her head slightly towards the photographer. This will stretch the neck more. If there are still reflections on the lens, you can raise the temples at the ear slightly to tilt the lens slightly forward and thus increase the angle to the light again. What can also help is that the subject tilts the head slightly to the side, which will also slightly change the angle of illumination.

It is difficult to change the lighting angle outdoors. If possible, it is necessary to take pictures in the shade, because then there will be no reflections in glass or there will be fewer. If there is no possibility to take photo in the shade, a diffuser or shader may be used. This prevents light from being reflected in the lens and therefore interfering. If none of the above works, but there are still reflections in the glasses, it is possible to take a photo of the person with the reflection. Then take a photo of the face without glasses (it is important that the face to be photographed at the same angle). Then there is only need to cut out the eye area from the image without glasses in Photoshop and paste it into the image with glasses, and then process with a mask. Time consumption is approximately one - three minutes of work.

Mirroring in a glass frame

After considering a number of ways how to prevent ir reflection on window and how to avoid reflection in glass photography, there is another "problem" that photographers face, in particular the photography of paintings in a glass frame. The biggest problem to overcome is unwanted reflections from reflections on the glass behind the image. With a few simple tricks, getting good results is achievable. The first tip is the easiest and fastest way - to remove the glass from the photo. Many paintings can be safely removed from the wall and removed from the frame for a short time. Depending on the size of the image, the scanner can even be used as a possible "photographic device". This has the advantage of not having to worry about lighting, sharpness and distance issues.

But if the picture is larger than the scanner, then the camera should work. In the case of a "clear" image that does not reflect, just set the camera exactly to the image, focal lengths of about 50 mm are ideal (that is ordinary lenses), you can use a tripod and take photos with a small aperture (due to the large depth of field, it is better only f8 or f11, if there is a tripod, slow shutter speed does not matter) without flash. In most cases, the camera's auto white balance should provide neutral filtering of ambient light. Otherwise, further digital correction will be required. If the glass must remain in front of the image, it becomes more difficult to obtain a good reproduction. Probably there is a possibility to try every possible variation, but all reflections are difficult to eliminate. Using a polarizing filter, as it was mentioned before, creates wonders. Its job is to turn off non-metallic reflections, stronger or weaker depending on the angle to the object. Therefore, reflective glass is an ideal application for that filter. It is necessary to try to find the maximum possible effect of the polarizing filter from different points of view on the picture in the frame. However, if lamps or windows are reflected in the glass of the frame, the filter is no longer applicable. Then it is better to try to eliminate these troublemakers (darken the windows, turn off the lights - if at all possible). In many cases, it helps to tilt the camera a little, i.e. take a picture of the image at an angle from below. As a result, at least there will be no reflection of the photographer with the camera in the glass. Unfortunately, this also distorts the image, which can also be digitally corrected later. Many reflections can also be corrected afterwards, but this will take practice. If it is possible to actively illuminate the picture on your own, you should make sure that the lamps are not reflected in the picture. It is better to build them on the sides, one on the left, the other on the right. Depending on the case, there is only a path of trial and error, and later experience and understanding of how to achieve the best result will come by aligning the camera.

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