Not Your Everyday Banana

by Bart Arondson

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I have taken a picture of a person standing inside the house via a window.

being outside, of course there is glare. I don't mind the glare as an artistic item, but wondered if there is a way to control the level of glare?

I am using paint.net as my main "power" editor, but Picasa picnik also is an option. alt text

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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This looks like an image that you can never take again, so the issue is not how to improve a retake, but to rescue what information you can.

If you could return to the scene under identical outdoor lighting conditions, with the same objects in the background, and from the same location re-shoot the window into an empty unlit room, then you could (a) register the glare in the new photo with the glare in the old and (b) subtract it from the original photo. The result would be imperfect but it could reveal some details currently obscured in the center of the photo.

If perhaps you took more than one photo at that time and the subject in the window moved or changed substantially, then you might already have most of this information, because you could again (a) register the glare in one photo to that of the other, (b) compare the two images to identify changes larger than the registration error, and (c) subtract out the areas that did not change.

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In principal this will work though success will depend entirely on how close the second glare image is and how well you register it with the original. –  Matt Grum Nov 8 '10 at 14:36
    
@Matt Yes, it's going to be imperfect. That's why I made sure to include the registration step, for otherwise there's almost no hope of success. The idea is not to get rid of the glare but to reduce it enough to improve the original picture without introducing even worse artifacts. In the spirit of recovering what is possible from this photo, given the impossibility of reshooting, do you think there is a better procedure? –  whuber Nov 8 '10 at 14:54
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I think you should try to reduce glare before taking the shot via a polarizer filter. Afterwards it's difficult to know what was behind the reflection as the image doesn't have that information...

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You can reduce glare in post if it's a fairly constant tone, for example the white of the trellis. This is done by darkening / increasing the contrast to match the rest of the background and shifting the colour if necessary. However if there is detail in the reflection like there is in the area which covers the girl's face then it's going to be a lot harder as you effectively have two images overlaid, and you're going to pretty much be redrawing one of them.

In short with this image I would start again. See this thread for ways to reduce reflections from glass:

Tips for shooting through a skyscraper, airplane, or train window

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Shoot in a direction that provides a more consistent reflection. Upwards is a good option, because the sky is a reasonably constant background, which you could somewhat remove in postprocessing. Having the reflection of the photographer in a photo is never a good idea, unless it's intentional.

I'll echo Matt's sentiment that there is very little you can do to improve the image you already have here. Reshooting is the best option.

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