Through the Glass

Recently I went on a photowalk on the University of Texas campus with my friend Beecher.  It was early morning on a foggy, drizzly Saturday and we hoped to capture some cool shots of some structures lit up in the fog.  We had imagined shots of the UT Tower or Littlefield Fountain glowing in the fog-diffused light.  What we got instead was enough drizzle to prevent us from wanting our gear out in the open.

What did we do?  We found other things to shoot.  We stopped by the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum where there are lots of overhangs under which to avoid the rain.  I captured this shot of the (beautiful) lobby through the glass.

Bob Bullock Lobby Through the Glass

3-exposure HDR.  Center exposure: 2s, f8, ISO 100, 12mm focal length

There were two tricky things to this shot.  First, the reflections on the glass completely overwhelmed parts of the image so I leaned the lens hood on the glass and blocked the reflections with my hands.  As you can see, there are some leftover reflections but I find them rather appropriate as they give a sense of where the shot was taken (outside the glass).  In hindsight I’m glad that I wasn’t able to avoid the reflections altogether.

The second thing I had to deal with was the cleaning staff — they kept wandering around in the lobby and occasionally showed up in the exposures.  I shot and re-shot.  I timed my exposures such that the shutter would open when the staff was behind a pillar.  This is much like when you are attempting a portrait in public and you have to ‘click’ at just the right time to avoid people in your foreground and background…just something you deal with.

Anyone else have tricks for shooting through glass?  Or, do you have opinions on how to treat a shot from the standpoint of allowing/eliminating reflections? Do you purposely include them in your shots?  Do you go through lengths to avoid them?


3 responses

  1. Wow very nice.
    Is there some hidden school in Texas that makes HDR photographers? I keep seeing more from over there.

    February 28, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    • We all meet with Trey Ratcliff twice a week for tutoring…we wish 🙂

      No hidden school but there are some great HDR guys here (I’m way on the low end of the totem pole among this group). I learned my preferred tonemapping settings from another guy in Austin (Dave Wilson — — HDR tutorial linked on that page). I vary my settings somewhat but I have grown to very much like Dave’s settings as a starting point. I learned various tips from Austinite Pete Talke ( while on a photowalk a couple of months ago. There is a large group around here though — Dave jokingly refers to the collective group as the Austin HDR Mafia.

      February 28, 2010 at 7:08 pm

  2. Mike, this shot came out great. No hints for you re: shooting thru glass as I haven’t had to deal with that (yet). I am sure my time is coming. Well done and talk to you soon. Great shot.

    March 3, 2010 at 9:31 pm

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