riddle for experienced/intelligent photographers

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I would like to photograph a series of front-doors made of black iron and glass. The two major problems I have to sort out (and for which I ask your help) are: 1) the unwanted reflection in the glass of what is in front of the door (such as: other buildings, a wall, myself with the camera, etc.) 2) the (too low) contrast between the black iron in the frame of the door and the obscurity inside the house, that you can see through the glass.

For problem 1), apparently a polarizing filter is no good, as these filters work best with an angle of about 90 of reflection, and I need to picture the door exactly from in front of it (0) as I want a perfect rectangle, and no perspective/no convergent lines. any ideas?

For problem 2), I have thought that something could be done with a thin, white paper covering the glass from inside, and also some kind of lighting (also from the inside) to provide the necessary contrast against which the forged design in iron is visible. do you have any suggestion as to which lighting would be appropiate? the pictures are to be taken in b&w

or do you have any other suggestion at all to improve the quality of this work? please help!! Im all ears.


-- joe gares (londoner66@hotmail.com), February 28, 2002


For problem 1 I suggest you rig up a sheet of black cloth which is behind you as you face the glass door, so in effect the glass has nothing to reflect but black.I think that'll work.

-- max mircho (maxmircho@hotmail.com), May 07, 2002.

Problem #1:

Black cloth (as above) or any color of darker fabric, or, take the photos at night and hope for no light reflection. To really help out, it would do for we the queried to have a "lay of the land", because you might be able to get around the reflection issue with different angles. And, there's always retouching you can do in the darkroom or Photoshop.

Problem #2:

This might help the reflection problem as well, but to increase contrast, you should hit the door with a couple of indirect exterior lights which will...do what lights do - illuminate certain things and cast shadows on others. A thin, matte finish sheet of paper might help, but then you've got a possible issue with an interior reflection of the paper itself. Direct lighting from the interior will "blow out" the door, while indirect interior lighting may cause reflections of the interior to appear. As far as lighting types go, you can't go wrong with a couple of "painter's lights" and some flood bulbs for that, "Hey, this is somewhat spontaneous!", feel.

Do some testing with a Polaroid or a digital first and I really would like to see what you come up with in the process.

Ultimately though, with a lot of "production" (which is not a bad thing at all) it won't really be the door you wanted to take a picture of anymore, will it?

You could always find a different door, I suppose ;)

-- D.M. Johnson (dmj@artisan-id.com), July 15, 2002.

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