Listen, we’re not ones to fiddle with ourZoom video filters until we’ve got a hazy Cybill-Shepherd-in-Moonlighting thing going on. We’re really not. But let’s just say there are those among us who, even though we’re quite comfy in our own skin, maybe don’t love staring at our own faces quite as much as we’ve had to, of late. We’re grown-ups, so we don’t want to care aboutlooking good on Microsoft Teams. But after a few hours of online meetings, we’re pretty much inspecting those bags like a TSA agent. And those of us who wear reading glasses? We’re just trying not to blind everyone withmonitor glare.
You’re brilliant enough, okay? Here’show to stop computer glare on glasses—three easy ways.
If you’ve spent most of your professional life in a regular office, you’ve probably become accustomed to working in rooms that are optimized by space planners and interior designers, specifically for people looking at digital screens for nine hours a day (sorry). There’s probably ample overhead lighting and, if you’re lucky, a window or two. The aforementioned space planners may have even set up your desk to minimize window glare on your computer screen, and helpfully fitted your windows with blinds.
But unless you’re a space planner or interior designer IRL, you may not have quite as much control over yourhome office lighting—particularly if working from home is a scenario that was suddenly (and rudely) thrust upon you. Your home office might be pulling double-duty as the kitchen island, the guest room bed or even a dark corner of the garage. Regardless, increasing your ambienthome office lighting willreduce glare on glasses, guaranteed. That way all of you, not just your specs, will be glowing.
Thekind of light you use in your home office can also have a dramatic impact on your Zoom face. Consider switching to “white light” or “bright daylight” LED bulbs, which can throw 2550 lumens (the equivalent of up to 200 watts) around the room. You can also borrow a trick from photographers, and add a “soft light” to yourhome office lighting setup. Also called an umbrella light or soft box, it’s basically just a high-quality light bulb with a professional-grade diffuser that expands the footprint of the light source from a few centimeters to a few feet.
The soft box is similar in function to a lampshade, in that its job is to transform the harsh “hard light” of a single bulb into a larger, softer, more flattering glow—magicallysoftening glare on glasses, smoothing away shadows and even (bonus!) fading wrinkles. Based on your uniquehome office lighting setup, you may need to play with positioning of your soft box to get the angle just right. But it’s an easy fix that will probably cost you under fifty bucks.
Want to prove the concept before you drop coin? Any white wall or ceiling in your office can function as an ad hoc soft box. Instead of aiming those bright lights at your face—where the so-called hard light will bounce right off those sexy specs—try pointing them at the wall behind your computer monitor. You’re likely to have better results if your desk is closer to the wall; if you’ve got a middle-of-the-room desk, try pointing the lights at your ceiling.
If your office walls aren’t bright white, here’s another ultra-easy photographer’s trick that might help: propping some white foam core boards against the wall, at eye level. This is called “bouncing;” the white board simply diffuses and diverts the light. It’s a reliable way tostop glasses glare that costs under $5.
And finally, if you’re not cool with investing a single dollar tolook good on Zoom, play with the positioning of everything in your office—your desk, your laptop or monitor, and your lighting. Now that we’ve explored the basic physics of glare, you can probably guess thatany light source that’s directly opposite your face is more likely to cause an unwanted reflection. So let’s experiment! Sometimes the smallest (and 100% free)home office lighting tweaks can make a huge difference.
If your desk faces a window, for example, play around with window coverings, or try sitting at an angle, and remember that foam core works for bouncingnatural light, too. If you’re using a desk lamp, try moving it off to one side, propping it up on a stack of books, or (even better) getting it a mate. This process will be unique for everyone, because ALL of the variables are different: screen angle, light source, wall and window position, room color and even how you wear your glasses.
Our advice: start your own private video meeting and just play around! Without other folks watching, you’ll be free to futz with every single variable until you’ve achieved glowy—not glare-y—perfection.