Use These Tips to Light Subjects Wearing Glasses

Credit: Film Link
Remove reflections from glasses with these simple solutions. 

It's only a matter of time when you'll run into a character who wears glasses which can cause some serious reflections when it comes to framing a shot. If asking the talent to remove them is not an option (nor is calling in sick for that day's shoot), you're going to have to learn how to light effectively to minimize the glare. Kevin, The Basic Filmmaker, shares some quick tips in the video below. 

Lighting placement

While front light is key in catching the glimmer of the eye, as Kevin points out, it's nearly impossible to capture when your subject is wearing glasses. To remedy the situation, start by moving the light source up and further out to the side until the reflection is no longer visible.

When positioning the fixture, make sure the talent is looking at their main eyeline instead of somewhere else. It's also good to see a rehearsal of any performance to make sure you're safe in case there is movement you didn't plan for. If any shadows start to form, you can fill them in with some bounce. And if there are any practical lights in the way, you block them with a flag or diffuse them. 

But what if the solution isn't working? 

Switch your fixture 

If you still happen to catch a reflection, try using a slightly larger yet softer light source. Softer lights won't be as harsh and can you minimize reflections further with proper diffusion. 

Polarizing filter 

A circular polarizer filter is definitely worth a try if you're shooting with a single light source or in direct sunlight as it reduces glare from one particular angle. They are especially helpful when framing against car windows. 

Sprays

While it may not be the best solution for glasses with clear lenses, when it comes to sunglasses, there are dulling sprays and matte sprays that can help out in a pinch. 

It's also important to realize that not all reflections are bad, especially if it's part of the style, but you'll want to avoid reflections that break up the talent's eyes.

Have any tips to rid glare? Share them in the comments below.      

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2 Comments

Thanks for sharing this!

August 27, 2020 at 4:56PM

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Basic Filmmaker
Filmmaker | Author | Educator
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Be sure to clarify with the production designer / art director / propmaster that any glasses be treated with an anti-glare coating. This is not too expensive but may take a couple of days to have done.
Also, talk to the actor. Make them understand your dilemma. They will often help you with the angle of the glasses or their look. Maybe they might have their character take off the glasses when you come in for closeups...

August 27, 2020 at 7:25PM

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Danny Nowak
Cinematographer
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