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How to remove glass reflections from a photo?

Denitsa Gancheva , Sep 22, 2009; 12:03 p.m.

Hello everyone,
I don't know if this is the right place to post this but I have problem. I have this photo (attached) which wasn't taken with SLR but just a normal pocket camera. As you see it has a pretty nasty glass reflection in the middle of the image and I couldn't remove it so far. Can, please, please, someone be so nice as to explain me how to remove the reflection? I would be eternally thankful to that person :)

The image can be seen here:
I tried uploading it but it's kinda big so I thought maybe it's better to just give the link.

Really looking forward to any help :)

Thank you,


Nathan Stiles , Sep 22, 2009; 12:31 p.m.

You are going to have a hard-- and I mean impossible really-- time w/ this. The specular highlight that's white, means there's no data to manipulate (all white, all black, no data). So, you have to create something from nothing.

You could sandwich a similar wood grain image in between a copy of this image to reduce the effect.

  1. Find an image that could reasonably fill that white area-- perhaps a crop from the upper right hand side of this one, if you must.
  2. Paste that image on top of this one, move it into place. Select the white part of the original image: then increase the selction slightly. Select the 2nd layer we added, inverse the selection, delete the excess part-- feather/size adjust selection to taste.
  3. On layer two, double click to go into the blending mode screen. This will allow us to cover only the white sections
  4. Adjust the blending mode sliders of the underlaying image (bottom part of the screen) on the full version of PhotoShop. Hold down alt and click the sliders to split them-- this gives an absolute clipping point, and dithers to the second point.
  5. Duplicate the background layer, move above Layer 2, and use it's blending sliders as before.
  6. This time, however, we are using the blending for this layer, not the underlying layer. We want to limit the opacity of just the white areas.

This may look hokey, I'll be honest. However, you are trying to create something from nothing, which is asking a lot. I figured I'd share something w/ you, as it may help a little-- besides, it's a good way to learn some rather seldom used features.

Chris Autio , Sep 22, 2009; 12:51 p.m.

I'd say that's a big star for you, Nathan!

John Markanich , Sep 22, 2009; 08:09 p.m.

Well, you can no more remove a reflection to see what was behind it than you could remove a hat to reveal a full head of hair.
Patching is your only option if you have something to patch from.

Michael Hendrickson , Sep 23, 2009; 06:25 a.m.

From my point of view, it isn't that bad; I would just leave it alone. It just shows that there's glass there, and it's not so objectionable.

One thing to keep in mind next time you shoot: If your camera has a manual focus option, use it. Autofocus will focus on the object -- the glass -- and not the scene behind it. Then, if you can move to minimize the reflections, or at least to place them where you like them better, other spots or whatnot on the glass will be minimized by being thrown out of focus.

The only other thing is to use a polarizing filter, but that gets complicated when trying to shoot with a small camera like yours.

But really, nice shot!

jacopo brembati , Sep 23, 2009; 09:59 a.m.

You can use a clone tool.
Quick and dirty result (few minutes).


John Crosley , Sep 24, 2009; 06:16 a.m.

In my portfolio I have a 'Presentation' which is a group of photos (hundreds actually) taken from my HUGE portfolio. The Presentation category is one way in which a photographer can group photos of a theme or a story or whatnot from his/her portfolio without removing them or reposting them, then add (to the Presentation) some narrative, if desired. It can literally turn photos posted elsewhere into a book or (in my case an illustrated textbook).
My HUGE presentation is entitled 'Photographers, Watch Your Background'.
It is still unfinished (only because I cannot 'see' my thumbnails when I go to move photo around and Photo.net has not upgraded its software), but there are over 300 examples of how 'choosing one's background can 'make or break' a photo plus concise, explanator narrative that I think you will find very helpful. You go to my portfolio, identify the Presentation, click on it, and voila!.
That is not a judgment on your photo or the glass behind it - that is for you (you think it is bad) and others. I aim to shoot and crop in the camera and not have to clone, or do any or much Photoshop or other image editing -- I want my photos to be mostly 'unmanipulated' and even uncropped.
Many are shot in such a way that they have whole new meaning because of their backgrounds (e.g. juxtapositions,etc., including one Photo of the Week with a very strong, ironic and humorous juxtaposition) as well as numerous other examples.
If if were better organized, it would probably be publishable without much work.
It has been read by numerous photographers here, and you might want to click on it and start reading - I have received wonderful comments right to the present on this (though I could update it if there were better software for doing so)
It is a lesson in how to 'avoid' having 'glass reflections' or other things in the background, although I must say this in favor of the glass reflection, for part of the 'bug' it helps silhouette it, and therefore brings it out - so I am not judging your photo badly at all. It may even be desirable to place your 'bug' in front of a shiny glass window if you want to bring out its shape and highlight the silhouette.
The point is when you 'look' as a person your eye 'filters out' much of what you actually 'see'. In fact, the brain does the filtering,I think, though in point of fact, the eye is part of the brain (truth) -- the optic nerve for instance which is visible through the eye is part of the brain for sure and the rest of the eye, maybe.
In any case, you have 'filters' built into your vision but as a photographer you must learn to remove those artificial filters because the camera does not have filters which do not 'see' highly reflective glass and disregard it, but instead render it truly (and brightly) and so forth.
If anything, this posting is not just a question of 'how do I get rid of or get help with a highly reflective glass background' but ,more generally 'how do I plan my photos when taking them so I 'see' everything and anticipate everything that my camera and lens will 'see' so that I can take better and better-planned photos? and thus have fewer 'issues' and maybe disappointments.
I'd look at this as a huge learning experience, not about Photoshopping, though the lessons above are wonderful (and I may copy them down), but -- instead of rescuing a photo which you can try to take again -- why not learn from this one and apply the lesson for ALL subsequent photos.
Next time and every time you take a photo, try to envision EVERYTHING that your camera will 'see' even if your eye (or mind) is trained somehow "not to 'see'" it. We all are like that many times, but photographers require a different and better (or more suitable) vision - the ability to see things without the mind's embellishment, and then if embellishment is necessary, then Photoshop or other image editing IS available.
(Or if you are an artist, you can just draw with Photoshop from the start - some have done it . . . it's a powerful artist's tool, too, but you really should know the joy of taking a compete photo cropped in the viewfinder without ANY image editing at all - and being able to post it that way though (truth be told) almost every digital image requires some adjustments because of the issue of 'digital dullness'[ present in images not processed in 'image editing' -- at least so far.
I hope you take me up on my invitation (it's not that i need the views' but I think what you see may help you advance quickly as a shooter). Others have told me it has helped them immensely . . . . . Maybe it will help you too,(and you don't have to buy anything.
(comment (c) 2009, John Crosley, all rights reserved.)
Best wishes.
John (Crosley)

Nathan Stiles , Sep 24, 2009; 11:17 a.m.


"Feel free to opine, but keep it pithy. Don't bloviate."
-Bill O'Reilly

Andy K. , Oct 04, 2009; 02:49 p.m.


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