Posted February 25, 2015 by Gavin Hoey in Videos

Controlling reflections in glasses

So you’ve got the lights, you have your model and you’re ready to shoot. Then you take a test photo and all you see is huge white reflections. It’s a problem that happens all too often but fortunately there are a couple of solutions that are quick, easy and effective.

Let’s start with the simplest solution. Get your subject to remove their glasses. It sounds obvious but it’s surprising how many photographers don’t have the nerve to ask. Whilst this can work wonders with occasional spec wearers, anyone who wears glasses full time will look most weird without their specs on. It’s also not going to work with the cool crowd who wear sunglasses all year round.

If you’re using flash or continuous light the chances are the reflections are likely to be from your lights and where you position the lights will affect the reflections you see in the photo.

photo-1Light from the front (including on camera flash) will produce the biggest, brightest and least attractive reflections. Because light travels in straight lines it’s going to hit the front of the spectacle lenses and bounce right back in to the camera. This really is one lighting position to avoid.

photo-2Knowing that light travels in straight lines means that moving the light source to the side will move reflection. Here the light is at about 45 degrees and the result is a reflection that’s much reduced in size.

photo-3Taking the idea a bit further, if the light is fully 90 degrees to the glasses results in a tiny reflection but also produces a split light effect which might not be the look you’re after. If you look really close you’ll still see a slight reflection. Why? Well the surface of glasses isn’t flat like a window, it’s curved so you’re never at a 90 degree angle across the whole surface of the lens.

photo-5To minimise and remove reflections the best position for the light is up high. By elevating the light the reflections will disappear and the lighting pattern remains flattering too. Asking the model to drop their chin or slightly angle the glasses down can have a similar effect.

In the video below I go through all of the tips in this post in more detail and even give you some tips on how to add a reflection of your own choosing.

Gear used in this video

Canon 5D Mark III www.adorama.com/ICA5DM3.html?KBID=67338

Canon 50mm f/1.8 II www.adorama.com/CA5018AFU.html?KBID=67338

Flashpoint Light Stand www.adorama.com/FPLS9.html?KBID=67338

Black Rapid RS-7 Strap www.adorama.com/BRRS7.html?KBID=67338

Flashpoint StreakLight 360 Ws Creative Collection www.adorama.com/FPLFSL360K2.html?KBID=67338

Sekonic L-308S Flashmate www.adorama.com/SKL308S.html?KBID=67338

Westcott Rapid Box 26″ Octa Softbox www.adorama.com/WERB26OM.html?KBID=67338

Gavin Hoey