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Archive 2013 · Help Shooting Blown Glass
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Help Shooting Blown Glass

I need suggestions on how to best light and shoot some small (4 inches) blown glass ornaments (hand blown glass figurine suspended in an oval glass bulb surrounding). I would like to hang them and can rig a stand to hang them from. I have a 2' x 2' light tent and planned on using my Canon 1D MkIV and a 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. My goal is to be able to shoot these beautiful pieces and show the detail of the figures in the center without having all the glare and reflections in the outer glass. I am hoping for a technique that makes this possible. Any and all suggestions will be appreciated.
Thanks in Advance!
Peace & Blessings,

Jan 12, 2013 at 05:06 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Help Shooting Blown Glass

Get the book ... Light: Science & Magic

It has a nice section addressing glassware and the concept of "family of angles" will be helpful for understanding how to control placement of your reflections.

Jan 12, 2013 at 05:21 AM
charles sharpe
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Help Shooting Blown Glass

Hello Stuart.

I have a friend who has a collection of 200 scent bottlers which she asked to to photography for her. I shot these on 5.4 tran film. The way I did it was to shoot them on my pack shot table which was perspex and lite from under neath. I also had some small reflecters at the side some were white some were silver depending on the bottle.If you have a light box you could use that just make sure it is daylight spec. Having said that know with digital that is a piece of cake to sort out. You could try sitting your light tent on top of the light box. Sorry unable to show you image as I no longer have a 5x4 scanner and I have never put a image onto this site as I am not sure how to do it. I have this helps you.

Charles. PS Sounds a nice little job you have on your hands Good luck.

Jan 12, 2013 at 05:35 AM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Help Shooting Blown Glass

Something like this?

Ill see if I can find a pic of the setup if it's the look you need.

Jan 12, 2013 at 08:59 AM

Search in Used Dept. 

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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Help Shooting Blown Glass

The basic concept behind shooting reflective objects to get the illusion of 3D on then is to control and light the space around them which is seen in the mirror reflections on the object, which are analogous perceptually to the highlights a direct source would create on the object. That takes care of half of creating the illusion of 3D in a 2D rendering: the highest / nearset points to the apparent source of light, which appears more natural when the reflections of the background are on the upper quadrant of the curves where mid-day sun would put them.

The other half the "make it look 3D" optical/perceptual illusion is creating the impression that other parts of the object are lower than those where the highlights are located. That's done by blocking the reflections the white surround is creating on the object by placing "flags" such as black cards or draping to "kill" the reflections on the same areas where you'd expect to see shadows; opposite the position of the highiights. If the highlights are at 2 o' clock on top you'd expect to see the shadows at 8 o' clock.

But your situation isn't typical because you don't want the reflections which define the outer clear glass ball to get in the way of seeing the interior detail. Because of that I'd suggest you start with lights bounced off walls and ceiling of the room to create a diffuse source with a natural downward vector then surround the object with black draping, including over the camera so it's reflection isn't seen. The selectively add white cards to create the high point highlights on the object. Starting with all black and then adding the highlights will make it easier to control where they wind up on the outer sphere.

The Catcb-22 is that the ideal lighting strategy for minimizing the reflection on the outside may not be the best one for rendering the 3D shape of the interior. There are tricks to get around that problem, such as cutting a "keyhole" in the background or above / below which isn't visible from the camera position to selectively light the interior with a narrow beam of direct light from a source behind the backdrop.

But all things considered the best strategy will probably be to do a composite. Shoot from a tripod and take one exposure with the lighting optimized to eliminate any reflections on the outer ball seen over the interior of the ornament, then another opitmized to make the exterior look like a 3D ball via reflections, and possibly a third with the "key hole" strategy to optimally render the interior. Then layer the three in Photoshop with the exterior 3D reflection shot on the bottom and interior on top using a mask blend in the image of the interior over any reflections on the exterior shot that where blocking it on the base layer.

Blending the layers by eye with masks and the opacity sliders you'll be able to recreate in the photo how your brain when looking at them in person sees reflections on the outside ball but mentally "tunes them out". Thus, you don't want to eliminate all reflections over the interior (which will look fake), just cut them back to about 20-30% of the way the camera recorded them until they look "right".

Jan 12, 2013 at 02:38 PM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Help Shooting Blown Glass

In addition to the above suggestions, I'd also add that getting a polarizing filter can be helpful in reducing glare from the glass you're shooting through. You can see the effect through the viewfinder or on the Live View screen as you adjust the filter, so it's a snap to get the degree of filtering you want.

Jan 12, 2013 at 08:34 PM
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Help Shooting Blown Glass

You can go one step further and Polarize your lights, too. I never use a polarize on glass, and prefer to work out reflections will well-placed flags, etc. All sound advice form everyone here.

Jan 13, 2013 at 01:17 AM
Monkey Falls
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Help Shooting Blown Glass

I've found this video to be a great intro tutorial. Then just experiment until you get the desired result.


Jan 14, 2013 at 02:30 PM

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