Newbie Help! How to take great photos through windows of home?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by jrasche2003, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. jrasche2003
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    jrasche2003 New Member

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    Hello!

    I am a true newbie, meaning, I just got my first DSLR this past weekend. I have worked with 35mm SLR's in the past, and got swept up in a digital point and shoot with a optical zoom, but I missed the feel and the pictures produced with an SLR.. there really is no other.

    I have a Canon 300D that I picked up this weekend for $125-it has a sigma 18-50mm lens and I purchased a Canon EFS 55-250,, f/4-5.6 IS.

    So as I am learning the functions and such, I wanted to start snapping right away. My main focus is always birds/nature and insects. And since it's winter, insects are the only thing I can't take photos of right now, unless I want to hunt down the spiders and centipedes lurking in my home.. LOL So I have a bird bath on my deck and bird feeders not far from the house windows and I thought I would use my telephoto and try to snap some shots of the birds that are visiting.

    Of course I am sure you know what I am about to say.. they are not perfectly in focus, and the light is somewhat dark. I want to go to a nature preserve this weekend where they have a building with windows and feeders on the outside, and I would love to get some good shots, so I am looking for help.

    How can I best take photos through windows with my telephoto lens and produce sharp pictures? There has to be a way!?

    Thank you from the newbiest of newbies! :) :wink:
  2. CaptainZero
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    CaptainZero New Member

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    Obviously, you'll need to have a clean window, and you're never going to get them perfect through a window. That said, you can still get some great shots. Be sure you have a fast enough shutter speed with the telephoto to make sure you don't get the blur. Experiment. As far as being to dark, your sensor may be exposing the scene too dark because of the bright snow. You may have to over expose a little to make the birds brighter. Again, you'll have to experiment, and you may need to up the iso if you can't achieve a fast enough shutter speed with the available light.
  3. cgipson1
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    cgipson1 New Member

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    You will have to deal with glare / reflections on the glass also. Use a flexible rubber lens hood right on the glass.. that will eliminate the glare / reflections as much as possible. You can also use a CPL filter (polarizer) to help achieve this also. I would use spot focus and soot metering if possible... it will give you the most accurate results when shooting like that. Just meter properly and you should be good.
  4. amolitor
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    amolitor New Member

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    First you need a body with excellent low light performance, and then you need a long lens, and finally a good vantage point.

    The you simply wait for the occupants of the house to disrobe.
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  5. Buckster
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    Buckster Well-Known Member

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    Obviously, be sure the glass is clean, inside and out. Shoot more or less straight through the glass, rather than at angles (that's a REALLY big one). Get as close to the glass as possible. Use a tripod and a shutter release (cable or radio) trigger. Use a hood to eliminate reflection, or you can even go so far as to tape black cloth around the front of the lens and the window to do the trick. Stop down the lens at least a stop or two from wide open, more if light and shutter speed allows. If you have speedlights, set them up adjacent to the camera, even in adjacent windows, pointed at your target area and adjust exposure accordingly.

    I've shot lots of birds through windows using those methods, like these:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The idea that shooting through windows will automatically produce inferior photos is not supported by the evidence of the photos themselves, made by uncounted numbers of people.

    By the way, those above were shot with a "Nifty Fifty" - 50mm f/1.8 lens, so don't let any gear snobs fool you into thinking you need a thousand dollar (or more!) lens to do this either.

    One more rule: Have fun with it!! ;)
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  6. shefjr
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    shefjr Well-Known Member

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    Buck am I wrong or did you use flash on those two photos? It would appear to me that you did because of the catch light in the eyes.
  7. Buckster
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    Buckster Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I did - two of them.

    As I noted in my list of things to consider/do above: "If you have speedlights, set them up adjacent to the camera, even in adjacent windows, pointed at your target area and adjust exposure accordingly."
  8. shefjr
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    shefjr Well-Known Member

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    That's what I thought. I've been trying to be more observant on lighting and see where it comes from in people's posted images. The sun shouldn't be that low. ;) the black capped chickadee looks like the sun is backlighting him.
    Nice captures!
  9. bratkinson
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    bratkinson Well-Known Member

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    Excellent photos, Buckster!

    Just wondering...is that branch part of a feeder/perch set up by your window? It just seems very close to your indoor shooting position.
  10. FireMedic772
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    FireMedic772 New Member

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    Also pretty fresh into the whole thing. Like everyone above has said: clean window, work with spacing (found it aids in diverting any speckles left if the window isn't clean by focusing through it), and do your best to control any glare and mirroring. Here are a few I took while driving. These are through the windshield on my car (taken while travelling at speed so don't judge too harsh). Just went around snap-photogging that day. Lens was a nifty fifty wide open

    $8322688761_2175a55383_h.jpg
    $8323748884_5009c26e94_h.jpg
    $8322692275_6859967aa4_h.jpg
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  11. Buckster
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    Buckster Well-Known Member

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    Yes, exactly correct. I set it up intentionally for shooting birds just outside the window. I positioned a small tin of bird seed directly below where I want them to stand on the branch, and in such a way as to make perching on the branch the best way for them to easily access the seed. Camera is then on a tripod, focused on the branch, speedlights are in place to light it up, and a radio remote shutter trigger allows me to shoot without being anywhere near the window or tripod whenever I see a bird on the branch in the "sweet spot" I've pre-selected for shooting.
  12. bratkinson
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    bratkinson Well-Known Member

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    Perfect setup, Buckster. You're giving me all sorts of ideas...

    Now all you need is to wire the branch to, say, 12v DC on a switch to keep the squirrels away from the feeder!
  13. jrasche2003
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    jrasche2003 New Member

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    Thank You for all such wonderful tips! I see those photos of the birds and I am just in awe. I hope to someday be able to capture such beauty. :)
  14. bobmax
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    bobmax New Member

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    Just a thought....I'm guessing you don't have an EXIF program on your PC as you asked this question...Right?
    Have a look, there are a few free ones around. I use the EXIF viewer 2.0 extension on my Firefox browser. Just have to right click and go exif.
    hope that helps ;)

    edit. Love the photos Buckster.
  15. shefjr
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    shefjr Well-Known Member

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    I have several EXIF programs for my computer. I don't have the ability to see EXIF on my iPad (unless Flickr is used).
    I use my iPad obsessively because I'm addicted to TPF. My wife hates that I probably pick up my iPad at lease 5times an hour just in case something has changed or whatever.

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