Tips for Taking Cityscape Photos Through an Observation Deck Window

When I travel overseas to visit new places, I always look out for a tower to shoot cityscapes from their observation deck. That said, shooting photos through a glass window poses a different set of challenges that you won’t experience shooting outdoor. So, here I’m sharing a few tips that have helped me thus far.

Bring a Mini Tripod

Some places don’t allow tripods because they’re seen as hindrance for other visitors. In that case, you may try to bring in a mini tripod like Gorillapod , as it’s unlikely to disturb others. Even if tripods are allowed, you may as well bring a mini tripod just in case, as it comes in handy when there is no suitable space to set a regular tripod up.

Gorillapod in use at an open-air observation deck. A mini tripod like Gorillapod comes in handy at a place where a full-size tripod is prohibited.

Wipe The Glass Window With a Cloth

Glass windows of an observation deck aren’t always clean. Make sure to keep a cloth in your camera bag so that you can wipe if it’s dirty. Obviously, you can’t wipe the other side of the window, so choose an area that has no stain, etc.

How to Eliminate Reflections from Glass Window

This is the biggest challenge when taking photos through glass windows. A glass window works like a mirror and it’s hard to completely prevent unwanted reflections from showing up.

Typical tips to follow are shooting from as close and straight as possible to the window (like almost touching the window in order not to let in any stray light through the gap between the lens and the window) and using a polarizing filter which helps cut down reflections. FYI, I own B+W Circular Polarizing (CP) Filter .

Aside from these tips, I’d often shoot by wrapping a black neck gaiter around the lens, and more recently, I’m using a tool called Lenskirt . It might catch the unwanted attention of other visitors due to its odd look but works quite well.

Using Black Neck Gaiter and Lenskirt to Eliminate Reflections from Glass Window
1. Black neck gaiter wrapped around the lens. 2. Attaching Lenskirt  to the lens and pushing suction cups onto the window.

As you can see images above, wrapping the black neck gaiter around (or attaching Lenskirt to) your lens and pushing onto the window helps shade the front element of the lens and leave little chance for any stray light to creep in.

Hope these tips will help. The same techniques can be used for shooting through a window of your hotel room (which might offer quite a unique perspective as well). Happy shooting!

This article was originally posted here.

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