Thursday, 2 August 2012


Transparency is the property of a material to allow light to pass through it. A transparent material does not affect the light passing through it in any ways. As a result such materials appear clear. Most common examples of transparent materials we usually encounter are water and clear glass. When photographed, the images created are not of the transparent material itself but of objects lying beyond (been seen through) the transparent material.

Photo By monkeyhood

 When photographing transparent materials the quality of the image thus obtained will largely be depended on the quality of the material. As even slight imperfections on the surface of the material (in this case glass) will distort light rays and create various undulations in images.

Most photographed transparent objects are water, glass and ice. Photographing water is a tricky business, although water is transparent and allows us to see through it; When light falls at it from specific angles, it creates specular surface reflections and makes it impossible to see beyond the surface. The solution to fix this is to use a polarizing filter. Similarly flowing water also is an interesting item to photograph. When photographed at high speeds (freezing the movement) the water appears transparent. But when photographed at slow speeds (capturing the movement) water appears translucent. Colored glass is another material which is fun to photograph; it renders its color to the light passing through it and subsequently to the subjects being lit by the light. When photographed through a colored glass the subject appears colored and wrapped in glass giving a special appearance. Both water and glass displays properties of lenses, they magnify views and at times even act as prisms scattering light producing all the colors in a rainbow.

A classic technique in portrait photography includes the use of a misty or rain covered glass window. The photographer puts the subject behind the window and shoots through it, producing an effect of super embossing the flat surface of the window pane (glass) on the models face. It appears as if the rain is mapped on to the face giving it a strong form.

In the next article we will discuss about Quality Of light - Translucency

Related Reading

  1. Translucency
  2. The Inverse Square Law and Practical Photography
  3. Opacity
  4. Reflection
  5. The Inverse Square Law of Light