Tips & Tutorials

[Part 3] How to Reduce Reflections

While an observation deck allows us to enjoy taking nightscape shots without being subject to the weather conditions, care is needed to prevent reflections from appearing in the image. In this article, I will introduce techniques for capturing clear nightscape photos with some useful items. (Reported by: Takuya Iwasaki)

Prevent Light Reflections with Blackout Curtains or Gloves

Depending on the location of your nightscape shoot, it may be necessary to prevent camera shake and reflections by adjusting the camera settings flexibly.
In the case of an observation deck inside a building or tower, for example, the viewing lounge is surrounded by glass windows, so we can enjoy the nightscapes without being subject to the weather conditions. However, caution is needed as shooting through the glass window may cause light reflection to appear in the image. To avoid this problem, make use of items such as a blackout curtain or a pair of gloves. Besides causing light reflections, fingerprints and other stains on the window panes may also be captured, so you are advised to wipe the window clean such as with a lens cloth before taking a shot.

Items to Use

Items for the Shoot

A pair of black gloves comes in handy for preventing reflections through the window pane. Other items effective for preventing reflections include black cloths.

Technique: Observation Deck…Techniques to Help Reduce Reflections

The observation deck is surrounded by glass windows, and light inside the viewing lounge causes reflections from the window panes. To reduce such reflections, you can employ one of the two following techniques. The first is to place the camera lens as close to the window as possible. Doing so helps to minimise the area of reflection, but you need to be careful as the lens may be scratched if it comes into contact with the window surface. The second method is to cover the area around the camera to prevent light reflection from entering the lens with the use of a ninja reflector or black curtain. Of course, you can substitute it with a black coat or a pair of black gloves. Some observation decks do not allow the use of tripods. In this case, make sure to secure the camera such as by placing it on the camera bag.

EOS 5D Mark II/ FL: 50mm / Manual exposure (15 sec., f/9)/ ISO 200/ WB: White fluorescent light

I took this shot while making sure the window pane was parallel to the lens surface as much as possible. Reflections are less noticeable at a standard angle of view (about 50mm) than at a wide angle.

Use a reflector to prevent reflections from being captured. Stick the lens through the hole of the reflector, and take a shot with the black face of the reflector facing the window pane.

Reflection Captured

Reflections of the camera and the photographer may be captured in the image if the necessary measures are not taken, making the resulting work unbearable for viewing.

No Reflection

In this example, a reflector is used to prevent reflections. The result is a clear photo which one can hardly tell it was taken through the glass window of the observatory deck.

Takuya Iwasaki

Born in 1980 in Osaka. After graduating from the Faculty of Economics, Hosei University, Iwasaki became a nightscape photographer in 2003. He works as a guide for All About (http://allabout.co.jp) as well as a lecturer for Tokyu Seminar BE's "Night Photography Course".
http://www.yakei-photo.jp/

Digital Camera Magazine

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.

Published by Impress Corporation

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