Photography From an Open Window

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Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

When you open a window, you immediately see whatever is outside of that window, sometimes you even get a breath of fresh air or let in a fresh breeze. Unless you completely poke your head out this window your view of the outside is somewhat limited, but nevertheless , it offers you a vantage point from where to admire the world, or at least your little piece of it.

This same feeling can be shared with others through photographs. This technique involves taking shots from behind an open window. If you take the shot with the camera completely out of the window, then the image loses interest.

What makes this type of photography so interesting is that the viewer gets a glimpse of the interior, the view of the outside is limited, like a tease, yet it leaves the viewer to want more. It opens the imagination to wander about what else is outside that window.

The window also serves to add a border to the image, it frames the shot. A good photographic project would be to take photos through windows from different vantage points; level to the street, from high rises, from moving vehicles, airplanes etc. Off course the photos should be also taken at various times of the day; morning, afternoon and at night. To take it further, photographs can be taken during sunny days, stormy nights, rainy weather.

A reversal of the technique would be to take images of the windows themselves from the outside in which a glimpse into the interior is possible being limited to your access. The camera settings have to be adjusted in this case, since the outside light is stronger than that of the interior, so you must calibrate or set the camera settings to the interior lighting conditions.

The best shots occur when the window frame and even the exterior shows the effects of weather such as weathered, peeling paint old wooden windows and window frames

Unfortunately, many of these weathered old structures cannot be found within the city limits. You may have to travel to the country to find old barns and structures that have long suffered the effects of time. Seek structures that are painted in vivid colors such as greens, pinks, reds and blue.

Many of these shots benefit form certain props such as terracotta/clay pots,especially if they are planted with colorful flowers which can be propped against the windowsill. The effect is accentuated if you can also add an old weathered wooden chair placed next to the flower pot or on which to set the planter. Some farm utensils such as pitchforks also work well and add charm to the photo.

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Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) | Source

Off course, not all of your window photographs have to be of old weather ones. There are many windows on commercial establishments, banks, store fronts that can also be used and they add a different perspective, many are highly decorative and ornate. Most store owners will grant you permission to photograph their establishment once you communicate your intentions, plus you will require their permission to do so anyway.

There are many abandoned buildings that present themselves for good window photography, their often dilapidated state adds charm and nostalgia to the shot. Use reflections if they are apparent, they add intrigue. Use depth of field and selective focusing to your advantage. If the outside elements are not particular interesting, blurring them with selective depth of field or judicious focusing can create an almost surreal effect.

Be creative, include just enough detail of the window frame to add a border effect to your images but not so much that it distracts from the outside environment unless the inside elements are more interesting than those found outside. If this is the case then include more of them in the shot. The same holds true when taking the shots from the exterior as well.

Be on the lookout for especial windows that would make for amazing photos by and off themselves, such samples can often be found in churches which have many colorful stained glass windows, often with designs that tell a story. Be respectful, take the shots when the church is empty as you will not be allowed to do so if its during a service or ceremony.

Keep in mind that when photographing from the inside looking out, you will need to take several exposures;at the recommended setting, one above and one below to compensate for the amount of light outside of the window which is bound to be higher than the inside light, unless you do this at night. Do not use flash when taking images from the inside at night. The effect will be that of highlighting the window and its frame but will overshadow the exterior elements. Seek a midway setting and prop the camera on a sturdy tripod as well as using a longer exposure time.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez

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Comments 3 comments

Lynn S. Murphy 5 years ago

Wonderful info as always and your photos are beautiful!!


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pmccray 5 years ago from Utah

Your work is like photo paintings. Voted up, marked useful and beautiful.


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phildazz 5 years ago from Toronto

Very nice work, I'm beginning to look at photography as a valuable hobby.

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