This past weekend I had the privilege of spending time with one of my close friends, Abby, and her boyfriend, Brandon, while they were visiting San Diego for the week. The last day they were here, we visited the San Diego Birch Aquarium and it got me to thinking about a really practical photography tip for my  Tuesday Tidbit: shooting through glass (a window, an aquarium, etc). I shot all of the photos below with a simple point and shoot camera.

Before I learned anything about photography, my pictures of animals at the zoo and/or aquarium would usually look like this:

 

directflash

Boo for Direct Flash

 

Not the best photo, right? The reason it looks like this is that when I hold the camera parallel to the glass in front of me, the flash goes off, travels from the camera to the glass and then shoots right back towards the camera, creating that bright light at the top.

One way to avoid that, but still use flash, is to hold your camera at an angle to the glass while shooting. This keeps the flash from going directly back into the lens. Remember high school physics? Angle of incidence is equal to angle of refraction yada yada yada…same deal here. The result isn’t fabulous (you can still see a bit of flare usually and the light is pretty flat) but it’s better:

 

flashangle

One thumb up for Flash at an Angle

The best way (in my opinion) to get a good shot through glass is to not use flash at all. This means you might need to find a way to hold the camera steady to avoid camera blur if there’s not much light, such as in this aquarium, but the results will be much better–no flare, true to life light, etc. For this shot, I simply braced the camera against the ledge in front of the glass and did my thing:

 

noflash

Two thumbs up and a triple cheer for no flash!

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