Saturday, October 10, 2009

Shooting Through Glass

For many years I taught photography to students in a masters journalism program at the local university. Teaching them how to approach flash photography was one of the hardest parts of the job. Everyone wants rules. Here's five do's, or here's five don'ts. Follow these and you'll be just fine. (No you won't!)

I tend to distrust rules. They give folk a way to deal with a situation without thinking. Good photography is all about thinking. Even using a point and shoot, even putting your trust in the little computer chip guiding your camera, demands that you and that chip have an understanding.

If you want to be photographer you have to understand a little about photography and a lot about your camera. If I could tell you one book to read to make you a better shooter, it would be the little booklet that came with your camera. The camera maker has a vested interest in seeing you succeed. They often have some really great tips.

An example of a rule that if followed will stop you from successfully shooting a lot of pictures is: avoid shooting through glass. The assumption is that you will always have a picture-obscuring-reflection in the glass. This is simply not true and you can take measures to eliminate the reflection completely.

The easiest way to get rid of the reflection is to have the flash right against the glass. (Pictures shot by photojournalists of individuals inside police cars are often shot like this.) The second is to shoot at an angle through the glass. The third is to shoot in such a way that the final picture is composed in a part of the frame not affected by the reflection. (The shot of the raccoon is an example of this.) I'm sure if I gave it some thought I could come up with more but I you get the idea.


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