Today we have Carl Denham back on the Lifestyles Desk with another installment of his informal series we’re now tagging “Advanced Techniques for the Universal Selfie”.
Today Carl offers various exciting and proven techniques to help the four eyed “Selfie” addict avoid those ugly reflections that often ruin their mugs.
If there’s one thing that makes your average photographer eat their liver it’s being tasked with photographing an individual who wears glasses.
Any time you have bright strongly sourced light, you have to consider the real possibility that the light source be reflected in the lenses of the eyewear worn by your subject (or yourself) and back to your camera or smart phone.
If this is a problem for highly skilled professional photographers it’s a nightmare for the committed “Selfie” addict, with multiple thousands of otherwise excellent efforts ruined every day.
As with everything in life when we have a problem in order to find a solution we must first understand that problem.
As this graphic demonstrates, it’s all a question of angles. Light follows a completely predictable path from source to subject to camera lens just like a ball follows a completely predictable path on the pool table when you ride the nine.
And it is that predictability that allows the professional photographer to avoid the bugaboo of glare by simple adjustments in the relationship between light source, subject and camera.
Now I say “simple”. Simple perhaps for the professional photographer who has control over all the elements of his shooting environment.
But not so simple for the “Selfie” King and Queen who often has no control at all and may be dealing with drunken if not outright hostile friends.
So let’s explore the options.
The most obvious solution is for the subject (be it you or others) is to remove the offending glasses.
That might be fine for somebody who alternates between contacts and analog glasses but maybe not for others.
Very often if somebody wears glasses full time that eyewear can be as much a part of their visual identity as the nose on their face.
Very often when asked to remove the glasses ( the subject be someone else or yourself) no one will be happy with the picture because it’s not going to look like the person as the world has come to know them.
That applies even when the person is ourselves.
So we reject that option out of hand.
The second option is to rearrange the relationship between the subject, the light source and the camera.
As we see in the accompanying photographs this can be quite an effective technique when it comes to avoiding reflections from eyewear. But this option is not without problems of it’s own.
It can be a royal pain to move cameras and lights around, especially if the setup revolves around more than one light source.
And arranging lights to avoid reflections may not give you the results you would like.
And of course if you’re shooting film which more of us are doing these days you won’t have the instant feedback of digital so you won’t even know if your adjustments are effective for days or weeks.
And finally this is time consuming and with the slap ‘n’ tickle nature of the “Selfie” time is not your friend here.
There is a another option that is much quicker, a trick the pros often use. Simply tilt the glasses on the head so the lenses are angled downwards.
Properly done the reflections will not hit the camera lens.
But still not the ideal solution as the glasses can easily look askew.
So what’s left?
What will work for us, quick and dirty and with minimal effort?
Perhaps the Bible can provide some inspiration:
“If your eye offend thee pluck it out.”
Now one saying we should pluck out eyes, but we CAN “pluck out” the lenses of eyewear thus remove the offending elements.
A procedure easily accomplished by some thumb pressure properly applied.
And as we see in this comparison photograph of Dorothy the Plastic Head, removing the lenses from our eyewear is an extremely effective method to avoid glare and reflections.
In fact without the lenses glare and reflections are impossible.
But like they say there’s no free lunch.
If you remove the lenses from your “real” glasses you may not be able to put them back.
Therefore I do not recommend that.
What I DO recommend is that all four-eyed “Selfie” addicts invest in one or more “burner” frames and remove the lenses from them.
For about $7 currently the “Selfie” addict should be able to find frames that match their own more or less.
I found serviceable frames two for $14 at Amazon.
I found several more at Zanni even cheaper and now carry a variety in my standard “Selfie” kit, always available and close at hand and thus always loaded for bear.
One final advantage of lens less frames, without the distortion of interceding glass, the eyes can really pop and as the Bible said:
“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.”
So it is when the “eyes have it” with “Selfies” too.
A Carl Denham brand commentary