Sunday, 3 April 2016

Dealing With Glasses

Dealing with glasses is simple enough if you follow the basic rule.
Photographing a subject that wears glasses is a common enough problem, but it's all too easy to end up with the lights being reflected in the glasses resulting in bright hot-spots from the glass. So how to avoid it?...
There's a simple enough rule which is that you have to ensure that the reflected light is not 'pointing' towards the camera. If you consider on-camera flash then the flash light is on the same axis as the camera and so any reflections are reflected back straight to the camera. That's just about the worst kind of light anyway, resulting in flat lighting and those dreaded highlights in the glasses that mean we don't get to see the subject's eyes.

Here's the lighting diagram for the shot at the top of the post...


In this photo I opted to use a single flash head, fitted to a white shoot-through umbrella. This was setup directly above the camera so that light would be coming down on to the subject; underneath the camera was a gold reflector to bounce some of that light back up into the shadow areas such as under the chin. This setup is called a "clamshell" light and although it's commonly done with two lights, I just used one flash head and the reflector.

So, although the light is on the same vertical axis as the camera, the light sources are effectively above and below the camera which, critically, means that the light will not be reflected into the lens. You can see how the lighting has given us highlights on the frames of the glasses which gives them some definition, but as the light is above and below, the other advantage is that we do not have shadows from the frames running across the face.

If you're taking a photo of someone wearing glasses, don't use on-camera flash! In fact, available light would almost certainly be much better, but however you light the subject, think about where the reflected light will be going and make sure it's not back into your camera lens.

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