How to Eliminate Reflections When Photographing Through a Window

Sometimes, we can’t get as close to our subjects as we’d like. Unless you have an exorbitant budget that allows you special access to an area or an exclusive bird’s eye view, it’s likely that at one point or another you’ve been forced to capture a stunning cityscape or a similar unbelievable view confined behind a wall of glass. For obvious reasons, this can become frustrating.

Luckily, photographer Serge Ramelli has a few pointers to share on masking out windows (and the color and light distortion that come with them):

There are a few small things that you can do to instantly improve the look of your surroundings. Ramelli demonstrates his practice from the Bellagio Hotel, overlooking the Las Vegas strip:

  • Turn the lights off. A significant amount of the ugly glares that photographers try to avoid are actually reflections of interior light sources. By removing ambient light sources from the equation, you’ll instantly see a difference.
  • Get your camera as close to the window as possible. This makes it easier to mask the appearance of the window itself. Getting the camera close also minimizes the amount of window surface captured in the final composition, minimizing the impact of irritating reflections and surrounding lights
  • Use a lens skirt. You may or may not have heard of this particular accessory, but essentially it prevents light from leaking into a lens’s edges. Professional lens skirts sometime come with suction cups, making it easy to attach to any glass surface that you may want to shoot through. But, if you don’t own a lens skirt, a dark t-shirt and some gaffers tape can accomplish the job just as well. Just drape the shirt over the camera and you’ll find that any reflections will have disappeared.

Sure, these tips may not seem drastic. But the end results speak for themselves.

Serge Ramelli cityscape

The next time a window comes between you and your subject, don’t settle for imperfection. Keeping these three tips in mind will allow you to maintain the clean, professional look that you crave regardless of the barriers that may stand in your way.

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