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Taking photos through glass

Written by Gail Bjork

Photographing through glass can be tricky. Follow these steps to minimize or eliminate reflections and glare that interfere with the view.

Photographing through glass inside

When photographing an object behind glass avoid using a digital camera flash. Instead, shoot the object from the side that has the most lighting. Be sure to position yourself in a way so as not to block the light and so there are no lights coming from behind the subject.

Place the camera lens against the glass. Ideally, the lens should be perpendicular to the glass.

When lighting is extremely low, to help prevent blur due to camera shake, use a tripod or increase the camera sensitivity (ISO). Or do both.

If you must use the flash

If you have no option but to use a flash, step back as far as you can from the glass when using it. Also hold the camera (0r an external flash) at a 45 degree angle to the glass to minimize or eliminate glare. If your camera has a setting to control flash output, known as flash compensation, decrease it.

Photographing through glass outside

Photographing the display figures at an angle prevented reflections from appearing on the glass.

When shooting through glass outside in bright light, use a polarizing filter. Rotate the filter until it reduces reflections. With a polarizing filter, you shouldn’t have to hold the lens against the glass.

Watch the angle you’re shooting from to keep reflections, including your own, at a minimum. You can minimize reflections by also changing the height of camera. If you see your own reflection, move around until it’s gone if changing the camera angle doesn’t help.

When glare is unavoidable

Whether taking inside our outside shot, there are time that glare is unavoidable. If so try to make it as small as possible and appear in the least conspicuous area on the photo. You can crop or clone away the glare when editing.

Take shots at multiple angles to help ensure that you get a good shot.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

4 Comments

  • Paolo, for optimum image quality, remove the frame and glass. If that’s not an option, move it to a location as reflection-free as possible. You may have to raise the camera ISO and adjust white balance.

  • Dr, Gene, not quite sure of your question but I’ll give it a try. The transparency depends on the thickness and type of glass. Any loss of clarity depends on the quality of the surface and the inherent defects in the glass such as minute bubbles. Try the suggestions outlined in the article and manually focus using the distance scale to get as sharp an image as possible.

  • What about when shooting through glass, getting the light refracting through the glass through the lens i.e. diminishing clarity