Registry of Stained Glass Windows in Canada (RSGC)
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Section: More Information


There are many methods and techniques for photographing stained glass windows, but the following guidelines have proven to produce good results. It need not be a difficult assignment.


For the purposes of the Registry, one slide of the complete window usually suffices. In special cases, detail slides may be included, but if this were done for every window, the expense would be prohibitive. Slides are to be labeled with the city, name of building, and window number.

Basic Equipment:

Camera, telephoto lens, cable release, tripod, tape measure, pencil, data forms, binoculars.


A 35mm, single lens reflex camera with as many automatic features as possible is best since lighting conditions often change rapidly. I use a SLR Camera (preferably with a telephoto lens; 28-70mm works well, 28-300mm works best) with a through-the-lens light meter, but which can be used without the automatic features. It is essential that you be able to regulate aperture opening and shutter speed manually.


Kodachrome 64 is the ideal film, but it means using a tripod and a cable release. Where a tripod cannot be used, Kodachrome 200 or even 400 is quite adequate, although the colour will not be ideal.

Lighting conditions:

The ideal climate condition for photographing stained glass is a slightly overcast day. If you are photographing on a bright day, try to time your photography work to take advantage of the side of the building in shadow. If you shoot into a sunlit window, the glare of the light will distort the relationships among the colours and often confuse your light meter. When in doubt, bracket your exposures: shoot the one indicated by your light meter, then one slightly underexposed, and another slightly overexposed. Whenever possible, request that the interior lights be turned OFF, so as to eliminate surface reflection on the glass.


If the window is wide, or you must shoot at an angle, use a small aperture opening to bring as much of the window into focus as possible. f/16 or f/22 is advisable, but means using a tripod because of increased exposure time.