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How to Photograph Through Glass

Updated on March 16, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

Attribution 2.5 Generic (CC BY 2.5)
Attribution 2.5 Generic (CC BY 2.5) | Source
CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

Photographing through Glass

As I have mentioned on previous hubs, I shoot all types of subjects, with nature being my specialty. However, I like to try new things and experiment with various techniques. Whatever it takes to better my photography.

One of my favorites is photographing through glass. Regardless of the subject behind the glass, the photograph takes on a mysterious aura, and depending on the glass's texture nostalgic even.

I tend to use glass panels that have a texture (patterned), like the ones used for shower enclosures, sometimes if no textured glass panel is available I will spread Vaseline on the glass surface or brush water soluble paint on it. Another technique that I have used is to tape thin plastic sheets (similar to the ones used to tint your car windows) and crumple portions or scratch irregular patterns.

I was lucky on one occasion to obtain some stained glass panels from a church that was undergoing a remodeling. I did not use panels with designs of saints etc, but rather the portions that were colored. The results were a mixed bag. Some shots were really interesting and some came out too dark. By the way, hobby stores have stained glass kits for making your own.

Whatever type of glass you use, please remember to use it with care, since you don't want you or your subject to be hurt or damaged as in the case of using still life. Another technique that I have seen used but have not used myself is to spray mineral oil on the panel and sprinkle flour, rice, rose petals, glitter etc.

But from the samples that I have been privy to see, the results can be awe inspiring. Frozen glass, in cold climates off course, works quite well too and offers many variations on the shot. Bad weather? So? go outside, your car window is also made of glass right?

You don't need to use only glass panels, bottles, wine glasses, or anything made off glass can be used, just use your imagination. Try putting colored marbles inside wine glasses filled with water. or colored marbles behind the glass panel and then spray a mixture of water and mineral oil. Again, just use your imagination.

Most glass panels can be found around your house or job. I have on occasions obtained permission from local hardware stores to use their shower displays. The attention from customers is usually enough for the manager to allow you to photograph at their store.

I strongly urge you to use the manual mode, on my Canon is just flipping a switch, and hand focus your camera, since auto-focus can be fooled by the glass reflection. Also pre-view the image to ensure that your own reflection will not be part of the shot. The purpose is to try new things, to experiment with your photography, you never know what will eventually become your photographic niche.

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Have you tried taking pictures through glass before?

See results

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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