I was recently shooting in a museum that had a no tripod rule. It also seemed to have little budget for lights either as the display cases were pretty dark with a lot of harsh reflections.
One of the exhibits had some old cameras and gear. I had a nostalgic moment when I saw one of the first cameras I shot with during my music journalism days. Of course it was in shadows and behind glass. But I combined the two problems to create a solution.
Here’s how I got the shot using just my camera (no filters or tripod).
- Position the camera so its lens hood touches the glass to help stabilize the shot.
- Set your camera’s exposure based on the light meter readings inside the case.
- Keep the camera at an angle. Adjust the angle of the camera to minimize reflections. If you want to be a good camera geek, read this article on Brewster’s Angle to understand the concept of polarization.
- Reduce the aperture to increase the depth of field.
- Set the shutter speed shorter to reduce the chance of camera shake.
- Adjust the ISO to get a solid base exposure.
- Exhale your breath, don’t hold it which causes shake.
- Fire the shots. Consider using a burst mode to get multiple photos or even a few series of brackets so you have options to develop.
I hope this technique helps you the next time you find yourself light on gear. A polarizing filter is ideal for these scenarios. This is (of course) just one way to solve this problem. Use whichever suits you best.
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