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 use ‘Circular Polarizing filter – CPL’ in DSLR photography…?

flower shot with CPL filterCircular Polarizing filter is the first filter you need to buy after UV filter. It is a magical filter that does wonders in photography.

  1. Polarizing filter will remove/reduce the unwanted reflections created by indirect diffused light from non-metallic surfaces. It cannot remove/reduce the specular reflections created by the direct light sources.
    Without Polarizing-filterWith Polarizing-filter
  2. CPL filter is a dark grey special optical filter fitted on to a rotatable ring mounted in front of the lens.
  3. CPL lets in the polarized light without reflections to enter in to the camera. The effect of polarization can be seen apparently in the viewfinder as you rotate the CPL filter. The overall subject gains better colour saturation and clarity gradually and becomes best at one point of rotation

    Without Polarizing filterWith Polarizing filter
  4. CPL filter can saturate the green foliage and blue sky while shooting nature and landscapes.
  5. The amount of colour saturation and clarity obtained depends on the light direction and time of the day.Without Polarizing -  filterWith Polarizing -  filter
  6. CPL filter polarizing effect will be ultimate in ‘sidelight’ conditions and will be the least in ‘against the light’ conditions.
  7. It will be better during the golden hours of photography (up to two hours from the Sunrise and two hours till Sunset).
  8. CPL filter comfortably removes the reflections on the glass, tiles, shiny floors, shiny furniture, wet surfaces, water and almost anything that reflects. Useful for shooting exteriors & interiors, glass enclosures, high reflective products like automobiles etc.Without CPL filterWith CPL filter
  9. Being dark grey, the CPL filter will absorb at least two to three stops light. This will result in using slow shutter speeds or higher ISOs or open apertures or all the three.
  10. CPL filter can also be used like a ND (Neutral Density) filter for achieving shallow depth of field/ blurring effects.
  11. CPL filters can also be used in the indoors with artificial lights and studio flashes.
  12. Only a very ‘good quality CPL filter’ can protect the optical quality of your expensive lens – never settle for anything less.
    flowers shot with CPL filter



What and how to shoot in Black and White?

Ancient stone sculpture

Stone chain at Varadaraja Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram

  1. Learn to see the scene /subject in black & white – convert the colors in to its closer tones of grey and visualize
  2. Justify if the black and white conversion is not taking away any important colour information of image.
  3. Prefer to shoot subjects with less color or single color in B & W – Ancient Indian temples are ideal subjects for B & W

    Street Vendor

    Street Vendor

  4. Emotions, character and expressions, depressions, sadness, loss, poverty, ecstasy, details of form, nudes, art, abstract, concepts, news (communicating horror, blasts, murder), old & antique things are some subjects and situations suitable for B & W photography
  5. Shoot in RAW and Jpeg quality. Set the picture control or picture style of the camera in ‘Monochrome’. This will give you a Jpeg image in B & W and the RAW will contain color data. The Jpeg image can be used for viewing in the camera for understanding the tones and exposure. RAW file can be processed in detail and converted in B & W.

    potter at work

    Potter at work

  6. The contrast adjustment needs to be handled carefully in the post-production to retain the details in the shadows and highlights. Photo filters in the Photoshop can be used to manage the brightness and details in the particular colour for an effective tone and details in B & W image.
  7. Use Polarizing filters and/or ‘white balance shift’ control of the DSLR to increase amber to darken the sky. This will give a good separation of clouds in landscape and nature shots.


    Gangaikonda Cholapuram

  8. Add ‘film grains or noise effects’ for the feel of time in a B & W image. Vintage and antique subjects will look great with this effect.
  9. Though a B & W gives an aesthetic feel by default, never shoot all the pictures in B & W just like that. Color is very important for some subjects (imagine shooting rainbows, Holi and rangloli in black and white..!).
  10. A very badly underexposed/noisy/off shooting color images salvaged through Photoshop can be converted in to B & W to cover-up the technical problems

    clay pots

    Terracotta Pots