Pictures behind glass photography

Art / Photography

The problem

For an art project I want to photograph framed pictures behind glass. I encountered several problems, which I will solve with simple methods. If you want to create pictures with a smartphone that look reasonably good, you have to make an effort to get your creativity going. What you can edit with a SLR camera by depth of field, menu settings or a polarizer is usually not possible with a smartphone. In some cases, the image can be scanned in and thus digitized. However, this is not suitable if you want to achieve a certain quality. If you just want to take a picture, you will expect reflections in the glass and we want to avoid them.

I showed this in a sample photo, what I mean by reflections. To make it seem a little more dramatic, I've widened it a little with a light source. These reflections are always there when we take a photo and the light arrives at an unpleasant angle. You can see me as a silhouette. My glasses, my hand with my smartphone. It is possible to retouch something like this from a photo with graphics software, but it is simply stupid. On a website I found a graphic, how best to avoid this, if we simply use a better artificial light source. Let's just test this out.

As we can see, we no longer have annoying reflections on the glass pane. That's good, if you are satisfied with this quality, you can stop reading here. I still don't like it because the artificial light source now creates shadows on the left side that I can't accept. All in all, I only use artificial light in the worst of emergencies, because it doesn't look right to me. I'm not a photographer and I have no idea if it's just a false idea of myself, but I make up the difference between artificial and natural light on photos. With this statement I am now very far out of the window. Maybe I just don't like flashes and artificial light sources and I'm just looking for an excuse.

I put all the equipment aside, got my sketchbook and ink out of the school paper and after some thinking I made a drawing (the one in the first photo). All I have to do is hide behind a white wall so people won't see me again. As a white wall I simply took a DIN A4 sheet of copy paper and cut a small hole (as big as the lens of the smartphone) with the carpet knife. I fixed this from the front with white adhesive tape. To avoid waves or strange shadows on the photo, I stabilized the paper with wooden sticks. In theory everything looks right, but in practice we have to check it. unfortunately I can't take a picture of the construction, because my smartphone can't take pictures of itself.

The finished result does not look bad. In the middle we have a thick white beam. This is the area covered by our construction. Above and below we see a dark area, which is created by different shadows. At the lower left corner there is even a small piece of my shoulder. We can continue working with this result in the next few weeks, after we have revised the frames, cleaned them and set up the background. Unfortunately, this will not work for SLR cameras, as the lenses are usually too large. With a smartphone it's ok, even if it should appear in the mirroring we can retouch it with a graphics program. We will also have to look at how we can get better natural light between the image and the camera.

Improve your work

If you want to work on projects well, you sometimes have to think around the corner or find an emergency solution. The ideas that are theoretically conceived on paper do not always work in practice. That's no problem if you stay relaxed and improvise the solution. it usually doesn't have to look nice, because especially in photography, film, television or theatre everything is usually just a nice appearance. There is cheating that the beams bend and what the viewer does not see, he does not know either.

If you go to school in Germany, you have to complete two internships in a company. This should not only prepare young students for the working world, but also help them to familiarize themselves with different professions before they do a craft training. This also helps people who later go to university, because they are more theorists than craftsmen. Anyway, at the age of 15 I did my first two weeks internship at the Theater Bielefeld in the props. During this time I have learned quite a lot, but a basic philosophy which my master has given me on my life path:

            Nothing in the theatre is real, the actors, 
            the props and the stage. Everything is faked, 
            rebuilt and made up. 

            Maybe if you want to work as a prop master at some point 
            you have to accept this fake reality for what it is, 
            a second reality that is only meant for the audience. 

            ~ The old property master

Later I only worked for a short time as a side job in the theatre. No other opportunity has arisen over the years and that's okay. You can expand your improvisation by following a few basic rules.

  • Set up a room for your materials.Then you go to the nearest supermarket and buy everything you think is important. Paper, cocktail sticks, glitter, wire, tapes, stickers everything. Everything from the remainder or what was reduced. I don't know how it is in other countries, but in Germany there are typical 1€ shops that can be found at every corner in the city centres. go to your basement and look for old materials, because you can construct a robot arm from a crane with an Arduino and some motors.
  • Everything you've learned so far sucks.Because learning means sticking to rules and that is the worst factor in a project. Of course, physics, mechanics and electrical engineering are right in most cases. Nevertheless, you can bend most rules according to your ideas. Get creative, just put together some mismatched materials and see what you can build from them. Paper, wood and tape almost always works and is a good start to practice. Your own experience is a better teacher than any tutorial video on the Internet. You must learn to think for yourself.
  • Work on as many projects as possible.In the theatre you prepare the props for one play, another one is in rehearsal, then you have to prepare the materials for a director. Besides, hundreds of people are asking you for this or that. Nevertheless, you are not under stress, because everything is organized by you to the minute. Even though it sounds exhausting, it helps you do your job. If you really don't get anywhere in your projects and you only work for yourself, just take something else. Put the problem child back in the drawer and work on it when you feel ready again. Certainly people have different rules because they are based on different experiences, ideas or teachers. That's okay, because these turned out to be the best ground rules for me. Of course this is also not applicable to every area, because a programmer doesn't need any space for his materials. I only give here a starting point with which one can work and one should not always imitate everything 1:1.
  • Change the rules, ignore them or add new subitems.

Revision of the picture frames

Even if I like to work with mass products in order to dramatize the artistic presentation, for me these must have a sufficient claim to quality. Unfortunately there were small grooves at the corners where the individual parts of the frame are connected and that doesn't look perfect enough. The flowers symbolize innocence and therefore the frame must also look innocent. This has to be filled again in order to sand it in several passes. The concept and the thoughts behind the objects are supported by a new pure white paint.

Many people do not see the craft behind art. You can simply buy a few picture frames, press a few picked flowers and put them behind plastic. That's not how art works. One must be absorbed in the work of artistic activity and allow oneself to be completely absorbed by it. It takes time, just as good craftsmanship takes time. It is a mixture of romantic objectivity and good craftsmanship.

I have bred the white flowers from a single cultivation. For a whole year I removed the bad flowers over and over again and only the most beautiful and strongest ones continued to grow. When they were big enough I cut them off and pressed them too. Even after that I threw away many flowers because they did not satisfy my requirements until only 44 copies remained. Art is a very strenuous work in which you have to concentrate perseveringly. This distinguishes the artist from the hobby painter (whose work I don't want to depict badly here). Basically, art differs in the later sale only through the quality, the work invested and the price.