How to shoot through glass?

There are lot of occasions we will be shooting through transparent glasses. Especially scenes from inside a car or airplane, aquariums, merchandise on display, exhibits in a museum, artifacts and lot more. If we are not careful, we may end up with disastrous pictures.

inside a display case

Inside a display case

The following few tips can help you to get the shoots right when you shoot through the glass,

  1. Use manual focus to get the subject behind the glass sharp. Some autofocus cameras may not get your subject sharp when it is behind the glass.
  2. Clean the surface of the glass if possible to get the subject clear. Dirt is a major enemy for shots through the glass.

    from Indigo

    Inside a flight

  3. Shoot from near the glass to make the dirt/scratches go out of focus. This also could take the reflections outside the frame
  4. Use Polarising filter to remove unwanted reflections of the surrounding on the glass. Rotate the glass element of the filter till you see the reflection going off.

    from giant wheel cubicle 011

    Shot from a Giant wheel cubicle

  5. Do not use direct on camera flashes while shooting parallel to the glass surface. Stay little diagonal to use a bounce flash light from the ceiling or walls.
  6. Avoid back light as it unnecessarily reveals all the dirt/scratch on the glass


    Shot from inside a car

  7. Check for proper exposure as there may be drastic difference in brightness in the scene. Play with exposure bracketing to settle for something you want.
  8. You could try HDR imaging technic for high contrast subjects

    from a car

    Shot from a moving car

  9. Use the best of white balance control to shoot subjects inside glass cases lit with different kinds of display lights.
  10. Include the frame or the edge of the glass using wide angle lenses to establish the glass if you want to show that you are shooting through it.

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How to create the feel of depth in the photos?

The feel of depth can be understood as the feel of walking through the photo. A photo is two-dimensional and the feel of three dimension is all about the feel of depth in it. An illusion of the third dimension is tried in all the photos to give the feel of reality. It is the added perspective mainly from the point of view. Our eyes can see in three dimension as the scene in front of us is not flat. The feel of variable distance of different objects in the frame is known as the feel of depth.

To establish the depth, the photo must contain multiple planes or layers in it. May be foreground middle ground and a background._MG_4178c

The following tips may give us a feel depth in our photos

  1. Use wide-angle lenses for a greater feel of variation of the object sizes in the frame and the feel of distance in it.IMG_9664c
  1. Avoid using very long focal length lenses as they compress the scene and make it look very flat without depth.
  1. Lookout for multiple planes or layers as seen from the point of view. Every distinct planes will give an additional feel of depth in the photo.IMG_0404c
  1. Include or add a foreground element in the scene to get a comparative distance from the main subject_MG_4723c
  2. Lookout for visually identifiable real or imaginary lines or curves running from the corner of the frame diagonally across. This will give an illusion of depth and distance.IMG_9490c
  1. Avoid flat front lighting and use sidelight with good shadows to define the planes and distance.
  1. Shoot from a diagonal angle to give the feel of diminishing perspective. This will give a feel of depth to the scene.   IMG_0242c
  1. Include repetitive and overlapping patterns to add the feel of depth
  1. Use shallow depth of field while shooting portraits and people shots. The out of focus background will give the feel of extra distance from the main subject._MG_0005c

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