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Stained Glass Windows
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Stained Glass Windows

Stained glass windows can make wonderfully colorful and exotic pictures for your travel album, and they're simple to photograph. The nicest part is that, as with formal gardens, most of the creative work has been done for you by the glass artists.

Because you're shooting a translucent subject lit by the sun, you must pay attention to time of day and the intensity of sunlight. Bright but slightly overcast skies provide the best lighting and the most saturated colors. If the light is too harsh, the color and brightness range will be beyond the contrast range of the film.

Most automatic exposure systems do a good job of exposing for stained glass windows. The primary consideration is to read only the window and not the dark interior surroundings. If the window is big enough to fill the frame, just compose and shoot. If the window is smaller or farther away, switch to a spot-metering exposure mode in which the camera's exposure meter reads only a tiny area in the center of the frame. Alternatively, you can move physically closer to the window, take a reading when the window fills the frame, use your exposure-lock feature to hold the setting, recompose to get the scene the way you want it, and shoot.

If your camera has an exposure-bracketing or compensation feature, you can shoot additional exposures at one stop over and one stop under the recommended setting. If your point-and-shoot camera has a built-in flash that turns on automatically in dark settings, switch it off when you're shooting in a dark church interior. Flash bouncing off the glass will only create glare and diminish the intensity of the colors.

Don't be so wowed by the entire window that you ignore the myriad intricacies of color and shape that form the whole. Use a medium telephoto (85mm) or telephoto zoom setting to isolate arresting designs, or look for vignettes that capture the spiritual theme of the window.

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