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How to make better photos out of a window

Windows seems to be clear when looking through it, but when you take a picture, you'll find that the glass has a significant impact on the look. There will be reflections, stray light and all sorts of strange stuff that your brain ignores most of the time ̵

1; but your camera captures. Let's look at how to make better photos out of windows.

Taking a photo inside out

Just as it's easier to look at a window from the inside than from the outside, it's much easier to take photos from inside. In you will never get a good photo shoot from outside, unless you intentionally include the reflections in the picture. This is a bit of a trope of street photography and it's not really what we're looking at today. (It can also be a bit scary.)

RELATED: How to make good street photos

Instead, we want to minimize the reflections when shooting from the house / car / plane / train / phone box rather than vice versa.

If you are in a public place, you probably do not have much control over your environment, so this section is "beautiful, if you can, do not worry if you can not do it. "

Start turning off all the lights. The darker the interior, the less reflections you need to handle. In particular, try turning off any lights that are directly on the window. You can see their reflections if you look closely. If you can not turn off the light, you can also keep the camera with your body or some cloth off the rest of the room.

Get a cloth and some warm soapy water and wash the window outside and in. Anything that gets stuck on the window also affects the picture quality. However, this option is unlikely, unless you are photographing wildlife from home. Even a quick wipe with the sleeve of your sweater can go a long way.

Getting as close as possible

The easiest way to shoot through a window is to have the lens as close as possible to the glass: touching it is ideal. The farther back you are, the more annoying the window is to things like autofocus and the more likely you are to see small particles of dirt or reflections. If you're using your smartphone, literally press it to the window.

You can see the difference in the following two photos. The first one I took on a train with windows on its windows had a single pane of glass to which my phone was pressed directly.

Pretty good? Now look at this second shot. This was taken in a plane where there were two discs spaced about half an inch apart. My phone is pressed directly against the first disc, but even this small gap is enough to affect the second disc with the quality of the image.

Do not shoot in the sun

You want to take good pictures out of a window, the sad fact is that you can not shoot in the sun. Camera lenses use high-quality glass and special coatings to minimize lens reflections and even if they still get it. Windows shine like a Christmas tree when the sun falls on them.

Of course I keep ignoring my own advice and you can see in the next two photos how, despite my best efforts, a rather ugly lens effect ruins both images


It's a shame, because without the window in the way, the light in these two places was beautiful. Maybe I would have had to pull the emergency brake on the train to get the shot!

Taking Manual Control

If you do not have an incredible conservatory where you can watch birds coming for bathing and eating, it's likely that you will do so most of the time Try taking a photo through a window if you do it from a moving vehicle. This has a negative effect on the automatic exposure and even the autofocus of the camera. It's just not normal that it moves sideways at high speed.

If your camera's automatic systems do not do their job, this means one thing: you need to take manual control. As always, you do not have to control every attitude. All you have to do is make sure your shutter speed is fast enough to freeze all movement. You can do this in the aperture priority mode or by manually setting the aperture and the ISO value and the aperture priority mode.

RELATED: Freezing or blurring? The Two Ways to Capture Motion in Photography

If you're using your smartphone, you'll probably need to download a third-party camera app (or enable Pro mode on some Samsung phones) for manual control. You can not change the aperture, but you can set the shutter speed and the ISO value.

For iOS, I love the Halide Camera ($ 5.99). For Android we recommend Open Camera (free).

When you're on the road, it's almost impossible not to try to take a few shots out the window of your vehicle. Follow these tips and possibly your pictures will actually be usable. Almost all the photos are from a train journey that I took from Chicago to Portland, and I'm really happy with the good ones.

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