golden years

Photographs through an Indoor Window

A Strategy for Staying Home

Susan Sontag once wrote that travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.  Why not  save the planet and shoot your pictures from a window at home.

Photographer Andre Kertesz shot many photographs from above or from a window

Also, I remember a New York City woman in her eighties who rarely left her apartment, but shot memorable street photographs from her apartment window.

“When I was young, the Dead Sea was still alive.” George Burns


The most famous use of through a window photography was in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “Rear Window”(1954), where a photographer with two broken legs is confined to his apartment. The photographer, played by Jimmy Stewart, even discovered a murderer while spying on his neighbors through an open window with his camera.

See a clip from the movie “Rear Window” below: ( Grace Kelly plays the girlfriend)


Photo Tips for Shooting through a Window at Home

  1.  Open the window if possible to avoid glare 

  2. If you can’t open the window, get as close to the glass as possible or put your lens against the window to cut down on glare

  3. Turn off your flash 

  4. Use exposure compensation to underexpose (-) the scene  by a third to one stop

  5. Follow the general photography rules and don’t shoot outdoor scenes between ten and four unless you’re shooting through tinted glass.

  6. Hold your camera with two hands and keep your arms close to your body when you don’t use a tripod

Photo Tips through Windows when You Must Travel

Scenery from Moving Bus
Arizona Scenery from Moving Bus

If you must travel, take a bus or car. I shot this photo with a high shutter speed late morning  from a moving bus in Northern Arizona. When you are moving, use a high shutter speed to keep things in focus.  I like the reflection in the window, but you can avoid it by pressing your lens against the window. Unfortunately, you will also pick up more motion from the moving bus when you lean your camera against the glass.


When you stay in a hotel, always ask for a view and change rooms or hotels often for the best variety of shots. The following photos were taken from windows in two different rooms at the Miyako Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

For the richest colors, take advantage of the golden light up to an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset as in the above shots

Copyright ©, 2013 M. Hutchison

Photo Tips: Golden Light Illuminates Golden Years

“I recently turned sixty. Practically a third of my life is over.” Woody Allen

 Photograph During The Magic Hour :

Most photographers agree that up to an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset are the best times to capture deep rich colors and the warm glow of the “Magic Hour”.


Shooting toward the sunrise
Monterey Bay Pier, CA, 2012 No Tripod

Since you’re probably up at dawn anyway or aren’t tired enough to go to bed at sunset, it’s a great time to go outside and take pictures. Take along a tripod because unfortunately, exposure times will be long (shutter speed slow), depth of field shallow (scene focus) and high ISO settings of 400+  produce less detail and more grain. I took the backyard desert with quail in the foreground photo shortly after sunrise in Hemet, CA and the Monterey Bay picture at sunrise facing the hills with the rising sun behind, so everything else is in silhouette.  Both were taken without a tripod. You may get lucky without a tripod, especially if you 1) set your auto timer to 2 seconds which cuts down on shake when you press the shutter button, 2) keep your arms close to your body, and or 3) brace yourself against a solid object or an attractive man or woman.

Double  exposure, Sunrise Hemet, CA
Double exposure, Sunrise
Hemet, CA


” Just because there’s snow on the roof, it doesn’t mean the boiler has gone out.” Anonymous

 Shoot Before 10:00 a.m. and After 4:00 p.m.


Mid-Day Sun Good for Mad Dogs, Englishmen, and Open Water:

Chicago Midday
Harsh Light, but Very Blue Water

As the sun moves higher in the sky, the bright light casts strong shadows and harsh contrast on your subjects. Because they look less appealing, try to move them into open shade where the light is more even. If they won’t cooperate, head for a cafe where you may find some interesting subjects indoors. You may also want to take a nap between these bright daylight hours (10 to 4).

Water is the only subject I know of that benefits from sunny overhead light. Water reflects the sky and produces rich, deep colors unavailable at other times. (physicists, please comment).


Visit next Friday for tips on shooting under overcast skies and in the shade

Copyright © 2013, Marlene Hutchison