There has surely been a time you’ve been walking down the street and wanted to photograph something - or someone - through the window. Or perhaps you’ve seen a gorgeous landscape passing by as you travel by car or train. Photographing the earth from above as you fly over in a plane is a common photography subject as well.
What these shots all have in common are those pesky window reflections that can detract from the beautiful scene you’re attempting to capture. But there are a few easy fixes you can use to minimize reflections and maximize the impact of your shot.
Try a Rubber Lens Hood
Traditional hard plastic lens hoods make great reflection blockers if you are shooting through a window straight-on. But not all images you will want to take will be from a 90-degree angle, so a different kind of lens hood will be required.
Rubber lens hoods are great for these kinds of shots because you aren’t tied to taking photos from straight on. The flexible rubber hood can adapt to just about any angle. All you have to do is get right up close to the glass, create a suction connection between your rubber hood and the window, then adjust your angle accordingly. Use this method for photos you want to take while window shopping, while in the car, riding a train, or taking a tram, to name a few.
Bring Some Dark Fabric
Let’s say you’re visiting an observation deck in a tall building and you want to get a shot of the city below. As is often the case, the lights behind you on the observation deck make an abundance of reflections on the glass surrounding the deck.
To ensure these reflections don’t impact your shot, set up your camera as close to the glass deck enclosure as possible. You’ll need to use a tripod, preferably a small one that will allow you to keep your camera close to the floor. Dial in the required settings, set your camera to timer mode or use a remote, and use a dark piece of cloth to create an enclosure around the camera.
The enclosure doesn’t have to be perfect, and you need to ensure the fabric isn’t in the camera’s viewable area, but with a little practice, you can quickly develop a system that will block extraneous reflections and help you create the rooftop views like those shown above.
Embrace the Reflection
Sometimes, even with a rubber lens hood or a makeshift barrier around your camera, you’ll have a situation in which reflections are unavoidable. And while often this means that they ruin your photo, there are some creative applications you can try that embrace reflections.
If what’s being reflected in the window can be used to add interest to the shot, by all means, use it! In the example image above, the blue sky and white clouds create a whimsical feel for the portrait of the couple. The abstract quality of the reflection gives the image much more interest and results in a photo that is far more engaging for the viewer to inspect.
In situations like this, rather than trying to eliminate the reflection, why not embrace it and highlight it as an artistic addition to the shot? The result, as seen above, can be quite engaging! Of course, eliminating distracting reflections by using a rubber lens hood or creating a DIY enclosure can get you better results as well. Try all three fixes to see the positive impact they can have on the images you create.