Quick Tips for Avoiding Flash Reflections on Glass

Whether doing event, wedding, or portrait photography, eventually you are going to find your subject in front of or behind a glass surface. Learning tips to avoid your lighting being reflected on the glass can improve your images and save you time in post-production.

I am not a wedding photographer but I have photographed countless events and between all the glass windows, mirrors, and decorative interior pieces, finding a clean spot while moving and trying to capture the moment can be impossible. Also, like a lot of photographers, I enjoy utilizing these same reflective surfaces to increase the interest of my editorial portraits. 

Coming from the talented photographer Robert Hall are several quick and easy tips that can be used to minimize and eliminate those reflected light reflections. Hall also offers a couple tips for planning ahead for more difficult situations so as to make editing them in post easier. 

Not mentioned in Halls video and a technique I use quite often is to incorporate softbox grids into my setups. Another great technique is to use a gobo or to flag the light source. This can block that bright reflection but can sometimes cause new issues if not done in junction with some of Halls other tips like feathering.

Like most things in photography, getting out and trying these tips on a shoot will always make you more prepared for when complications arise on a job. Being a good photographer is sometimes being a good problem solver. 

Any tips you use that were missed?

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4 Comments

Mmm I was wondering, what if you put a polarizing filter in front of the flash and one in front of the lens?
The light bouncing on the subject should be of mixed polarization while the light from the reflection should all be polarized in the same direction and so it should be easy to elminate it with the polarizer on the lens.

John Dawson's picture

Exactly! I thought the same thing. Cross-polarization works very well for eliminating unwanted reflections on highly reflective surfaces.

David Staggs's picture

Yep It works great. Use a linear polarizer gel on the flash and a circular polarizer on the lens and the reflection will just disappear.

Robert Nurse's picture

I've got a shoot coming up where one wall of the space has a huge window. I was considering doing what you suggested: using the black part of a 5-in-1 or a large black card as a flag. But, the video give me other options.