Photographing objects behind glass

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by raptorman, May 25, 2009.

  1. raptorman

    raptorman TPF Noob!

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    Can anyone tell me a good way to photograph objects behind glass with as less reflections as possible? I'm mainly thinking here about objects in a museum, so I'm limited to just using a camera. Thanks!
     
  2. pez

    pez No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you have a fast lens, a polarizer would help a lot. I'm assuming you can't use flash or a tripod inside a museum, so probably fairly high ISO as well...
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I Agree you need a circular polarizer on the lens - that should help cut down on the reflections. However as pez points out lighting is going to be your biggest limiting factor. A circular polarizer will cut out quite a bit of light and without flash (which can cause reflection problems of its own) and a tripod for a longer exposure and things can be tricky.
    Another trick is to put the lens right up to the glass itself - a bit of black card round the end to block incoming light - that should limit reflections a lot, but of course it also means that you have to work very close and in many museums the glass has security sensors in it so there is also a chance that you could set them off as well.
     
  4. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    When photographing artifacts in the museum in Anchorage I simply pressed the camera lens against the glass. This permitted extended exposure times without blur. Lens choice was dictated by the size of the subject and its distance from the glass.
     
  5. raptorman

    raptorman TPF Noob!

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    A polarizer also crossed my mind, but after looking through many pictures I already took in musea (often 1/5-10, F/4 and ISO 800 due to the crappy lighting conditions) and considering the fact that a tripod and/or flash isn't allowed most of time, I think the only lens it'll work with is the Canon 17-55 F/2.8 as it's fast, has IS and good focal lengths for this kind of photography. Too bad I don't have the budget for that kind of lens.

    The camera against the glass trick is something I'll try, but does that work without a macro lens?
     
  6. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    you might get away with a monopod in there - phone ahead and ask - try to not talk to the reception person since many times they only have offical no answers to most things, but try to get in contact with their head of photography or of photo usage or some such (they will have some sort of department or person in charge of this) and ask them. Make sure you point out that they are not for sale* and just for home use, but that you would like to get better examples and a monopod would greatly help you.
    Be polite and who knows you might get what you need

    * unless you do want to sell images then you should already be talking with them about usage rights and such.
     
  7. farmerj

    farmerj TPF Noob!

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    Don't shoot straight at the glass. I take pictures of birds all the time through my patio door. Clean glass and a slight angle are really important.

    Straight at the glass can take on an almost mirror effect.
     
  8. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You don't need a polerizer, I've been shooting through glass with out one for years. This applies to all reflective surfaces like automotive paint and water to name a couple. The trick is distance and/or lighting. The one rule is NEVER USE THE FLASH ON THE CAMERA.

    Light on subject side of the glass
    I generally try to do most of my shots like that with the primary source of light on the subject side of the glass. When the primary light source is on that side there is no reflection to speak of.

    Distance
    There are a few things you can do here, you can butt the lens up to the glass but you have to have either a lens with a very close focusing range or a macro enabled lens, the draw back to this is you take away any chance of alternate angles as the the lens should be flush to the glass in order to work properly to reduce access light that causes the reflection glass will deturmine what angle you can work with and is seldom good for anything other than fish.

    Anther is well away from the glass, Getting away from the glass reduces the dominace of the reflection and gives you the possibility of either hiding in a shadow or composing around it. One of the draw backs is this requires longer and often slower lenses and often higher ISO.

    Another is to be at about a mid range and cast a shadow over the glass where the desired subject is to artifissally create the illution that the primary light source is on the other side of the glass but this only works in overhead lighting and glass topped cases where the light can come through the top as well as the sides.

    This photo was taken from several feet awat using an 85mm lens with the primary light source on the subject side.

    This Photo was taken with the close focusing lens butted up agenst the glass under nutral lighting.

    This Photo was taken under overhead lighting with macro equipment using the shadow cast by the lens
     
  9. pez

    pez No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I shot this one through very thick plate glass with the butting-the-lens-against-the-glass method.
     
  10. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    "The camera against the glass trick is something I'll try, but does that work without a macro lens?"

    I understand 'macro' to mean 1:1 image:subject ratio or greater. Assuming that you can focus on the subject, I can't see what a 'macro lens would do for you. If, on the other hand, the glass->subject distance is but a very few inches, say three or less, then a set-up with 'macro' capabilities would be indicated. In that instance, I'd consider using extension tubes or a 'Proxar'(r?) lens.
     
  11. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you're talking about a small aquarium, you might need a macro lens to attain focus.

    As long as the subject is far enough away from the glass, that wouldn't matter though.


    Pressing the lens, or it's hood, against the glass works great. It has the added benefit of letting you use longer exposure times than you could normally use due to the added stability. It will also eliminate any glare from the glass - the glass will be enclosed by the hood, blocking any light that might cause glare.
    (EDIT - You can even use the on-camera flash like this. The hood will block the glare from your flash.)

    The only down side is that you are limited to shooting perpendicular to the glass.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2009
  12. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It really depends greately on what you are shooting. If you are shooting fish or very shallow display cases then chances are slim. You would need macro ability, however full blown 1:1 macro is far from neccessary. Extention tubes are a bad idea unless the subject is stationary and camera on tripod or monopod, this will extend the required exposure time. What would serve you best is prolly a 35mm or 50mm lens with one or maybe two macro filters on the lens. Macro filters don't inhibit exposure time....sort of. The do narrow the DoF considerably requiring smaller apertures to get appropriate DoF but you can still shoot the camera handheld wide open if needed, and being held agenst the glass you can finagle atleast two SS clicks slower than normal giving you atleast two additional stops to work with.

    With deeper glass cases like what would be expected in a museum, the Macro enabled lens is less likely to be needed (but not a bad idea to have) as the subject should be far enough away from the glass to fall into the focusing range of a wide angle lens but this won't always be the case.


    --------------------------------
    My equipment of choice for a museum session with the equipment that I currently own butted to the glass would be my M/MD CPC 28mm 2.8 Macro and M/MD Vivitar 70-150mm 3.8 Macro on my Minolta XG-M with 800 speed film in body. The CPC 28mm 2.8 Macro is capable providing a very short focusing distance wile the Vivitar 70-150mm 3.8 Macro can compensate and cover the deeper cases where such a wide angle would be innappropriate for the subject. Though both lenses are macro enabled neither lens is capable of true 1:1 macro without augmentation, this is actually an advantage to them here, you are not going to find your self stuck between clubs so to speak.

    If I was restricted to non macro enabled lenses for a museum session with the equipment that I currently own butted to the glass I would be using Canon FD 50mm 1.4 on Canon EF 800 speed film in body, with a set of three Tiffen Macro filters (1,2 and 4) handy.
     

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