Photographing broken windows

Destruction and dereliction isn't necessarily a bad thing.

|  Architecture
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When a building is abandoned it isn't long until they start to fall apart and vandals think it's OK to smash a few windows. This is far from acceptable behaviour and should be reported however, if you come across the building long after those who think it's OK to destroy property have left, spend some time photographing the destruction and dereliction as you can end up with a rather good collection of thought provoking photographs.

Broken Glass
Photo by toniixx.

Gear
Unless you have one particular building in mind you're going to be walking around so take a small bag with you as lugging lots of heavy equipment will soon get boring and a smaller bag will make you less conspicuous to passes by who may be a little too interested in your kit. A wide, standard and macro lens would be handy as would an ND filter to reduce glare.

Technique
Old factories and office blocks with their rows of symmetrical windows and smashed panes look great when photographed with a wide angle lens. While filling the frame with a single pane, excluding the frame and other parts of the window or using your macro lens to throw the background out of focus so you can focus on one shard of glass works well if you have a window that's easily accessible. If you spot a great window which is guarded by wire fencing don't be tempted to clamber over it. Instead find a gap that's big enough to poke your lens through or get as close to the fence as possible, position your lens so it's pointing through one of the gaps or, when the fence has small gaps, make sure the window you're trying to photograph is in the gap and use a wider aperture setting to throw the fence out of focus.

Try using the jagged edges of glass to frame the inside of a derelict building or if you can get inside and shoot out, stand in one corner of the room, off to one side, meter from the window pane and photograph the rays of light bursting through the broken window into an almost black room.

Pay attention to the direction of the sun as you can get unwanted glare from the glass. Try shooting on a more overcast day or use an ND filter to reduce this. You may also find you get unwanted reflections when working close to the glass. You can shift your position to try and remove them but sometimes they can work well, particularly if the reflection's of another derelict building.

Once you're back at your computer have a go at converting your images to black & white. You can find a tutorial on how to do this on ePz.


You've read the article, now go take some fantastic images. You can then upload the pictures, plus any advice and suggestions you have into the dedicated Photo Month forum for everyone at ePHOTOzine to enjoy.

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