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  1. #1
    hughitb's Avatar
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    Taking Pictures Through Windows

    I just uploaded the image below to the gallery. I took this on a whim one day while walking down the street. It's taken from the street into a shop window. I really this - so much so that I am thinking of going out with the explicit purpose of trying to take lots of images like this through shop windows.

    I was quite surprised that this came out so well - I figured that there would be all sorts of problems with reflections on the glass, with the window affecting image quality and so on. My question is this:

    What sorts of considerations with regard to exposure and so on are there when trying to take pictures like this? Are there particular lighting conditions that are going to work best (I am guessing soft diffused light e.g. light cloud)? Are there other things to bear in mind? e.g. angle of view with respect to the glass/direction of sunlight etc?

    In short, was my picture a fluke or is it really that easy?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails shopwindow.jpg  

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by hughitb View Post
    What sorts of considerations with regard to exposure and so on are there when trying to take pictures like this? Are there particular lighting conditions that are going to work best (I am guessing soft diffused light e.g. light cloud)? Are there other things to bear in mind? e.g. angle of view with respect to the glass/direction of sunlight etc?
    It doesn't look bad.

    I don't have any experience with shooting through windows but just trying to think about it logically---- seems you would have to be concerned with clarity issues or how much does the glass degrade the image light reaching the film; reflections, etc...With an in-camera meter used properly, it seems that issue would be adequately addressed; but, certain reflections may alter the meter reading, IDK.

  3. #3

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    Use a polariser and reflections won't be an issue.

  4. #4

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    It's not that bad really. Reflections can be a problem when shooting through a window, but avoiding them isn't magic. If you can see the reflection from your viewpoint with the naked eye, then the camera will see it too. These reflections may or may not be strong enough to substantially affect the metering. Naturally, if the outside light is very bright, then the reflections from the glass will be stronger than if the outside ambient light is dull and diffuse. Using a polarizer can help a lot, and so can changing the angle at which you're shooting.
    Frank Schifano

  5. #5
    DWThomas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anon Ymous View Post
    Use a polariser and reflections won't be an issue.
    Actually, a polarizer doesn't do much good if your line of sight is at right angles to the glass; they are much more effective against reflections bouncing off about at 50º.

    As fschifano says, you have to assume the camera viewpoint and see what bounces back, it depends a lot on the angle of sun or position and brightness of the lighting outside. I haven't found it to be much of a problem except in a few odd cases. You could step up close to try and meter the interior you wish an optimized exposure for.

    DaveT

  6. #6
    hughitb's Avatar
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    Thanks all. Lots of food for thought there. Actually I am not sure I necessarily want to avoid reflections. In the case of the picture above you can see, to the left of the head, reflections of the buildings on the opposite side of the street. I think this adds to the picture rather than detracts. Though obviously in many cases reflections are going to be undesirable so the suggestion of using the polariser is a good one in those cases.

    What I really don't want though is reflections when I am taking a shot when, as DWThomas says, the line of sight is at right angles to the glass .. as that would obviously be a reflection of me ...

    I am still really surprised that the shooting through glass does not degrade the sharpness of the picture more. Maybe it was really clean and recently washed glass :-)

  7. #7

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    A polarizing filter can still help if you don't want to eliminate ALL reflections. As you rotate the filter, and change your position, the polarizing effect can be increased or decreased at will within reason.
    Frank Schifano

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    Shove the lens right up against clean glass and go for it!

  9. #9
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    A polarizer can sometimes help, but if the window is plastic then you can get all kinds of patterns...

    The best way to work around glass or plastic is with a hood. You set the hood against the glass. Failing that, you can make yourself a darkcloth from a jacket or such and off you go. No reflections. I've taken quite a few acceptable shots from airplanes that are not recognizable as such; these were done with flexible plastic hoods from the mamiya rb system- they are very wide and flexible.

    You often lose contrast when you go through another medium, so if there's anything you can do to boost contrast in the dev or print stages then you might consider that.
    Last edited by keithwms; 12-22-2008 at 09:17 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: sp
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  10. #10
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    IMO, the reflections are what make these types of pix interesting. I would use them rather than worrying about them. My only advice is to go out and shoot a lot, and to not think about the pix in literal terms, but in conceptual ones. Your pic is made by the reflection of the apartment in the top left, IMO.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 12-22-2008 at 09:27 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

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