Photographing Objects Under Glass

When I was shopping for a new point and shoot the salesman shot an image through the glass display case to demonstrate the camera’s macro focus.

The detail and focus of his shot was amazing but later I realized that almost all cameras with a macro option take great shots when the lens is placed directly on the glass. This eliminates all reflections and light glare, and works especially well on the smaller items that can be found in many museums and shops.

I’ve used this technique in smaller museums, mostly on items that won’t cause any alarm bells to ring, and so far no museum personnel have scolded me for this!

Here are some examples:

A jade and bone adze in the Prehistoric Museum in Ireland.A jade and bone adze in the Prehistoric Museum in IrelandChinese calligraphy in a book in Vancouver’s Chinese Cultural Centre Museum.Chinese calligraphy in a book in Vancouver's Chinese Cultural Centre MuseumJade ear plugs in the Antwerp Anthropology Museum in Belgium – this one was zoomed in.Jade ear plugs in the Antwerp Anthropology Museum in BelgiumThe wax seal in the museum at the medieval castle of Carrickfergus along the Coastal Causeway Route of Ireland, UK.The wax seal in the museum at the medieval castle of Carrickfergus along the Coastal Causeway Route of Ireland, UKGreen shells in a box at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC, Vancouver.Green shells in a box at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC, VancouverCopper bird in the museum at the Ruines de Montaigle in Belgium.Copper bird in the museum at the Ruines de MontaigleCoins in a Welsh Copper Museum.Coins in a Welsh Copper MuseumNatural emeralds in a rock in a shop near Halong Bay in Vietnam.Emeralds in a rock in a shop near Halong Bay in VietnamSometimes I like to do a bit of retouching to better show off the images. This is a prehistoric paint brush at the Cuevas Tito Bustillo in northern Spain, unretouched.A prehistoric paint brush at the Cuevas Tito Bustillo in northern SpainRetouched with the edges of the case and secondary object removed.Prehistoric paint brush at the Cuevas Tito Bustillo in northern SpainUnretouched photo of old coins in a museum case in Buxton, England. There was a mirror in the case to show what the back of the coins looked like. The background was blurry but the coins had great detail.Retouched with the coins cut out and a radial graduated fill put in the background. I used approximately the same colours as in the photo to keep the edges of the coins clean.Old coins in the Buxton Museum in EnglandMore of Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge: Under Glass.

More posts on photographing through glass without a polarizer.
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5 responses to “Photographing Objects Under Glass

  1. What a cool thing to know and do! I will have to try it the next time I’m at a museum (asking permission first, of course). Wonderful photos. Thanks for joining the challenge!

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