The art of photography knows no boundaries, and window glass with annoying glare and reflection of the author dissatisfied with this should not become an obstacle to creativity. Many professional landscape photographers have their own tricks — they successfully get rid of unwanted effects, making impressive portraits and images of panoramas or night cities.
It’s useful here to heed the advice of Justin Tierney, a renowned American photographer, composer, and filmmaker who has studied the problem of reflections with academic meticulousness. The photographer’s recommendations are confirmed by a degree from Yale University and a rich practice of shooting from the viewpoints of Tokyo skyscrapers. Justin’s creative approach attracted the attention of photographers around the world. He summarized his experience in the article, proposing several solutions. We suggest using the author’s best practices.
Decrease the Brightness of the Lighting
If you are shooting from a hotel room or other area where you can control the light, do your best to minimize its flow. When it comes to night photography, use any shadows, blinds, gadgets you can find. Cover the camera to block unwanted light. On the other hand, when shooting in the daytime, blinds and curtains create unwanted reflections and should be removed.
If you are shooting from an observation tower or anywhere where lighting cannot be controlled, try to find a dark spot in the room, architectural elements (columns, support beams, etc.) that can be used as an obstruction to block light.
Try Working with a Rubber Hood
Justin himself wasn’t convinced of the need for its installation, but then he came to the conclusion that it’s effective if the camera is directed straight. If you often tilt the camera sideways or downward to achieve more complex compositions, the lens hood won’t be as good at blocking reflections. And, as with polarizers, there are many accessories to buy and carry around — for each of your lenses separately.
Try to Get As Close As Possible
Place the lens as close to the window glass as possible. Justin uses a 2 m long Arca Swiss quick-release tripod that’s easy to adjust. There’s no need to touch the window glass to prevent vibration and friction from damaging the lens, but minimizing the distance allows you to remove most unwanted reflections.
Sucker Tripods — Effect and Speed
Justin often uses what he says is a win-win combination — a tripod on a sucker and a lens with a skirt. This construction is easy to transport, unpretentious to install, and difficult to accidentally damage. In some situations, it’s hard to use tripods that are too conspicuous. A design Tierney loves can be discreetly locked in place and then quickly removed. The photographer says that over the years of practice, he learned the art of lightning-fast work in the cabins of glass elevators, taxis, monorail trains, hotel lobbies — so as not to attract attention at all.
Try Working with Polarics
Justin says that his adaptations either work one hundred percent or don’t give any result at all — there are no intermediate options. Polarics reduce glare but don’t eliminate them entirely, which can only worsen the situation. If you cannot afford the luxury of shooting with external monitors, then you cannot tell in advance whether there’s a reflection or not. They may not be visible on the miniature LCD screen of the camera. However, when viewing results on a large PC monitor, photographers are often severely disappointed.
Another problem with polarizing filters is that you need to buy a separate filter for each lens. You can, of course, supplement the design with adapter rings. But, given the already dubious effectiveness of polarizing filters for the given shooting conditions, it’s better to avoid additional clutter.
Lens “Skirt” Capabilities
The protective casing, which can be installed on the lens, Justin considers his best find. It cuts off reflections almost completely, with the possible exception of shots from sharp angles of the camera. The “skirt” should be as large as possible — especially when shooting with a wide-angle lens. Large shrouds are difficult to work with if the camera is at a sharp angle, but this isn’t difficult to fix. It’s enough to attach the tape to the edges of the “skirt” to expand the area of coverage and fasten the seams. If the $50 price tag seems too high for you, you can make your own casing.