Coloured glass bottles in a collage
Colour,  Sunday Stills,  Themed galleries

Gallery: through a glass darkly

When you look at a piece of delicately spun glass you think of two things: how beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken

Tennessee Williams

Arguably it’s the fragility of glass that makes it so beautiful. Not only does it look lovely, we know how easily we could lose it.

Glass has two main properties; we can look through it, or we can see the world reflected in it. For Terri’s Sunday Stills challenge this week I’m simply sharing a few photos illustrating each of these aspects of glass.

The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face

William Makepeace Thackeray


While glass is very reflective, those reflections aren’t always perfect. Maybe that’s what makes them so interesting to us as photographers?

Reflections of modern buildings

Modern architecture both reflecting and reflected in Pyongyang, North Korea

Modern glass building reflecting others

More reflections from Pyongyang, on (relatively) busy Yonggwang St,

Minarets reflected in a modern office block

Minaret reflections in Salalah, Oman

Window reflecting ornate church architecture

St Patrick’s Cathedral reflected in one of the buildings of the Rockefeller Center, NYC

Dome of a cathedral reflected in a window

St Paul’s Cathedral reflected in a window of the Tate Modern gallery, London (not to mention the two photographers, with Chris alongside me!)

View of a coastline reflected in sunglasses

Talking of Chris, here’s the coastline at Lagarta Lodge, Costa Rica, reflected in his sunglasses (this is also a ‘through glass’ photo as we’re separated from the view by the glass wall of the hotel’s terrace!)

Man in baseball cap and reflective sunglasses

And here are more sunglass reflections courtesy of a friendly man we met in Twisp, Washington State (again, spot the two photographers!)

Mountains reflected in a wing mirror

Still in the US, this was taken in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming


Looking through glass, we sometimes see things beyond it much as they really are. But glass can also play tricks on us, depending on its shape and other qualities. It can turn the world upside down, change its colours or merely distort it.

Round glass window with upside-down view of houses

Looking out from Cape May Lighthouse, New Jersey (and no, I haven’t inverted the photo, it’s the shape of the glass creating the upside-down image)

Blue liquid in a bottle showing an upside-down view of old buildings and people

I’ve shared this before but this shot taken in the old pharmacy in Tallinn, with an upside-down view of the Town Hall Square, is too obvious an example not to include again

Glass of white wine with blurred backdrop of old building

Likewise this shot from Lecce in Italy, but again it’s perfect for this theme

Glass of white wine with blurred backdrop of a garden

Another glass of wine but much closer to home in the garden of our local pub, the New Inn in Ealing

Modern stained glass church window
Modern stained glass church window

Coloured glass is harder to see through but it does let in light, as these stained glass windows in the Dom St. Nikolaus, Feldkirch, Austria, demonstrate

Display of glass wine bottles

As do these wine bottles on display in the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in Koblenz, Germany

View of a beach through a wet window

However clear the glass rain will distort what we see through it, such as here at Tate St Ives, Cornwall

Factory seen through a dirty window

Dirt will distort the view too; maybe this window at the Chongjin Foreigners’ Lodgings in North Korea is kept deliberately dirty, as we weren’t really supposed to be taking photos here!

Glass prisms hanging from a light fitting

Light passing through prism shaped glass creates a rainbow of colours, as in this chandelier in the old assembly room in St Albans, England

Yellow glass ornaments on a carved stone roof

And finally rather different use of glass on the roof of the City Palace in Udaipur, India


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