In some instances, shooting through glass is the only way you’re going to get the shot. An example I encounter pretty regularly is shooting at observatories like One World Observatory in New York City or the Skydeck in Chicago. In a lot of observatories (the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Buildings are notable exceptions), you have to shoot the view through glass. Other situations you might encounter glass are shooting from a car, a train or an airplane.
If you’ve ever been in a situation with glass, you know how hard it is to shoot without getting bad reflections. It gets even worse at night. So, let’s talk about how to avoid reflections when shooting through glass.
Before you even deal with reflections, make sure you’re shooting through a clean area. Glass can often be dirty, especially on buildings. Make sure there aren’t too many dirty spots in your frame.
There are a few ways to mitigate reflections. If you’re at home, in your car or in any situation where you control the lights, turn all the interior lights off. That should help tremendously.
If you can’t turn off the lights, then I still have some solutions for you. The solutions below are the ones I used to shoot the Northern Lights from a plane.
First, put your camera as close to the glass as possible. If you can shoot straight and have it the lens (the plastic part) touch the glass, even better. If you have a lens hood, try using it, especially if it’s perfectly round (like on a telephoto).
In most cases, you’ll still have reflections. The goal is to cover the area around your lens. Your hands can work in some cases. I have used a dark jacket or sweater successfully. You look a little weird but it can do the job. Take your time to put it around the lens and check it’s covering all the reflections.
But wrapping around a jacket or sweater isn’t ideal, and can be somewhat tedious to deal with. Enter Lenskirt, the best solution to avoid reflections when shooting through glass. It’s a hood with four suction cups. It’s easy to use: You attach the Lenskirt to the glass with the suction cups and your lens goes into the opposite end. I recommend the XL version, as it allows you to shoot with larger lenses and wide-angle lenses. The regular version is a little cheaper and will work great with smaller cameras like micro four-thirds.
It’s a little investment but it’s worth it if you travel regularly or like to shoot in situations with glass.