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

    Energy

    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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How to use backlights for an effective feel of the photograph?

Back lighting is something which gives us the feel of mood and glow in the photos. In particular, the back light with a feel of rim at the edge of the subject truly brings the third dimension of the subject. The translucent subjects reveal fantastic texture details in the backlight scenes. Landscapes looks refreshing with a good backlight

IMG_9644c

The following tips may help you to shoot nice backlight shots.

  1. Choose to shoot in early mornings and late evenings for an effective back light.
  1. Use mist, smoke, stream, dust and extra humidity for an effective visual of backlight._MG_4991c
  1. Position the Sun at an oblique angle and let the light pass through the scene towards the camera.
  1. Use good lens hood or light cutters to avoid unwanted glare or flare in the shots. An added glare or flare sometime gives an extra punch to the photo.IMG_0149
  1. Take exposure for the shadows and underexpose for about a stop or more for a better details of highlights.
  1. Use gentle fill in flash for people shots to get the details of the shadow areas.IMG_0096c
  1. Be careful about Auto focus. Most of the entry level DSLR cameras may not be able to autofocus the scene that easily. If you are comfortable and the subject is fairly not moving fast, then you can try manual focus.
  1. A shift in the white balance towards amber will be good for day light shots.
  1. A landscape shot with the feel of shafts of light using back light will be looking fresh and energetic.                          _MG_0211c
  1. Add an extra contrast in the picture style setting or while working in the digital darkroom.
  1. The punch of steam or smoke will be appetizing while using a gentle back light.
  1. Use a gentle rim or back light for all the portraits and people shots to enhance the texture of hair and skin textures._C1A6700
  1. A bright back light where the exposure is settled for highlights, results in a beautiful silhouette.
  1. A back light shot of a food setup and transparent products are definitely appetizing.IMG_3842s

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How to take advantage of shapes?

Shape is the first visual information human eye can take to understand a subject. From our childhood, we learn a lot from shapes. A recognizable shape is what makes us relate things subconsciously.

What is shape in photography? Shape is a definite distinctive form, something which is distinguished from its surrounding by its out line. It is two dimensional element of basic picture composition in photography. It usually helps us to identify the object.
SeafoodThis out line of the subject changes when we change the point of view.  That is, when we move to different point of view the shape of the subject changes quickly. Some times this out line is not defined well and hence we cannot understand the subject. To define a subject, we must get an identifiable shape from an appropriate angle. We need to move around to see as how the shape of a subject is changing and how relevant is the point of view chosen.

To get the best of the shape in any subject the following tips may be tried

  1. Move around the subject to find a recognizable or attractive shape
  1. Choose a relatively clear background without clutter and confusion
    bottle
  1. Find a contrasting colours or tones in the background to make the subject stand out in shape.
  1. Overlapping patterns or objects must be avoided to get the advantage of shape.
  1. Make the background out of focus to separate the subject shape clearly – use shallow depth of field controls.
    Pushkar Camel Fair - Rajasthan
  1. A strong rim light or back light all around the subject can pronounce the shapes more powerfully than a flat front light.
  1. The shapes without colour, texture and details are very interesting. They are called, ‘silhouettes’ in photography. Silhouettes are very powerful and aesthetic means of shape.
    dancer in mahabalipuram
  1. Avoiding the camouflaging background will improve the feel of the shape.
  1. A side angle or a total profile shot will be ideal for identifying birds and animals distinctively.
  1. The identifiable shapes in the architecture makes the photos very strong in terms of its beauty and understanding.
    necklace.jpg
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How to get the colors right in the pictures?

cake

  1. Use lowest possible ISO settings.
  2. Use good quality multicoated lenses with colour corrected optics.
    kathakali
  3. Get perfect exposure through M, Av, Tv & P exposure modes – avoid over or under exposed shots (full auto modes have to be definitely avoided).
  4. Avoid shooting in Automatic White balance – try presets like ‘Sunlight’, ‘Shade’, Tungsten’ etc. If you are comfortable, use ‘Kelvin’ white balance for better control of colours.wedding decor

  5. Learn to use ‘White balance shift’ control to fine-tune the colours in the camera.
  6. Avoid unnecessarily increasing or decreasing the saturation settings in the camera and in post processing.baloon boy
  7. If you are shooting in JPEG quality, select matching picture style/picture control options for the subjects accordingly.
  8. Shoot in RAW and process images in the camera RAW for better colour details.flower
  9. Use Polarizing filter on the lens to avoid unwanted reflections to get saturated colours in the daylight shots.
  10. Calibrate the computer monitor for correct ICC profiles for perfect colour corrections.

How to get maximum sharpness in your shots?

Sharpness - coorg

Sharpness illustrated at Tibetan Monastery – Coorg by KL Raja Ponsing

  1. Use good optical quality lenses
  2. Avoid using poor quality filters in front of the lenses
  3. Use manual selection of AF points and AF lock
  4. Use stable tripod while shooting in slow shutter speeds
  5. Use remote shutter release
  6. Use self-timer for still subjects
  7. Use mirror-up option for long exposure shots
  8. Switch off IS/VR controls when the camera is on the tripod
  9. Use lowest possible ISO settings
  10. Use continuous shooting mode for hand held shots
  11. Use reciprocal of the focal length of the lens as the minimum shutter speed for hand held shots.
  12. Zoom in LCD to check the sharpness of the image
  13. Hold the camera firm and use stable posture while shooting. Lean on stable bases like walls or pillars if necessary
  14. Use hard light with good light and shadow effects.
  15. Shoot in RAW to manage the sharpness in Camera RAW image editor.
  16. Use ‘Unsharp’ mask’ in photo shop – People shots (Amount 160%, Radius 01 and Threshold 10). Landscapes and building shots (Amount 70%, Radius 03 and Threshold 2). General subjects (Amount 90%, Radius 01 and Threshold 4).
Sharpness - monastry

Sharpness illustrated at Tibetan Monastery – Coorg by KL Raja Ponsing

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