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Glass Photography
Taking pictures of glass and translucent subjects

bluegobletglassrabbitartglassvase

Taking good quality pictures of glass or translucent objects can seem a great deal of fun actually.  There are some simple techniques which even amateur photographers can use to obtain dramatic results with minimal effort.   The following examples show several basic setups that should allow anyone to achieve results they can be proud of. The first technique is a favorite of many hired professionals who need to get instant, fast, clean shots of clear glass using a graduated background. The underlighting technique covered, is a personal favorite of mine, and where I believe the fun comes in! Working with underlighting and/or backlighting. Under lighting and/or backlighting translucent glass or acrylic objects can give you very dramatic, impressive results.The other techniques discussed illustrate dark field and light field photography (don’t be intimidated by the terminology the techniques are actually quite simple). The technique you choose depends on the style you prefer and the results you are trying to achieve.

These images were all obtained using an inexpensive two megapixel digital camera.  To simplify our setup we used an EZcube® light tent in some examples to diffuse and soften the light and provide the seamless background. In other examples we worked with a more open set, using soft-box Kuhl Lites with their diffusion panel in place to create the soft, diffuse lighting necessary. The underlighting was created by using a very low profile Kuhl Lite Pad, and the backlighting was a softbox Kuhl Lite. Both the softbox Kuhl Lite and the Lite Pad can be used to create a desireable blown-out white background, while at the same time highlighting inner glass detail that otherwise would be missed by traditional lighting methods. It is very important that all light sources match and have the same color temperature. (More details on the equipment can be found at the end of this page).



A simple shortcut popular with professionals, and commonly seen on trade magazine covers, is the use of a graduated continuous-tone background.

The background creates the illusion of light falling off into darkness. These backgrounds are custom made to fit the EZcube perfectly; they are longer to fill the EZcube from top to bottom & no trimming is required.

 The results are always amazing, and the final image looks as if it was taken by a professional. This background is also fantastic for making short-work of shooting clear glass.

glass photography setup
ezcube
glassvase

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The Lite Pad will create the same special effect with acrylic cosmetics and perfume bottles. Translucent acrylic and glass respond dramatically to the under lighting technique.

An acrylic perfume bottle with blue liquid inside placed on top of the lite pad really lights up! In one shot here I used a second Lite pad behind the body wash to light up the entire bottle. This can also be done by placing a Kuhl Lite soft box behind the Lite pad as a backlight as shown with the BLV cologne.

The lite pad is positioned beneath a translucent background to create a continuous illuminated sweep. A Kuhl Lite soft box was used as the primary light source in these examples but is out of camera view.

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blvsetup



The Kuhl Lite Pad is bright enough that it works well as a primary light source, in addition to underlighting and backlighting.

In these examples we used the Kuhl Lite Pads for underlight, backlight and key light. The lite pads are a very convenient size to work with for shooting small cosmetics and take up very little space.The smaller Lite Pads can be supported in the vertical position using photography clamps that are included with purchase.

These are the brightest under lights on the market. Using state of the art LEDs combined with the same technology used in flat panel LED TVs. Cool to the touch. Low profile (less than 1") and light weight at just over 2 lbs.

lite pad set
litepad
perfume photo


Photographing Waterford Crystal on light backgrounds

Place the illuminated flat panel inside of the EZcube®, beneath the nylon sweep. Align the illuminated flat panel so that the longest side is running from the front of the EZcube® to the back.

Place the glass on top of the sweep, over the light panel, 1 inch from the front of the light panel, so that most of the light is behind the glass.  This will illuminate more of the glass, from the bottom on up.

Add lighting from both sides (outside of the EZcube® so it will be soft and diffused without harsh light reflections).

Insert black paper as rolled tubes, on either side of the stem. (This adds nice black reflections back into the stem, to help define the shape). Adjust the paper until you can see the black reflections appear where you like them.

Photograph with a digital camera on a tripod to avoid blur. Set aperture f 8.0 for a maximum depth of field, with a exposure compensation of E.V. +1.0 to lighten the background still more.

Glass edges disappear against
a light background

Black paper adds definition to the edge of the glass

Two Lights position on the side
 

 

 Photographing Waterford Crystal on a dark background

Place the illuminated flat panel inside the EZcube®, beneath the standard nylon sweep. Cut a hole in a piece of black, matte paper from an art supply store. The hole should be slightly smaller than the base of the stemware.   Place the stemware on the paper, over the light panel, aligned with the hole so the light can shine through the hole and illuminate the glass.

The paper should continue on up following the curve of the sweep, creating a seamless black background. Add one light source from behind the EZcube®, be sure to shoot over the top of the paper just a little. This will help illuminate the upper rim. Photograph with a digital camera on a tripod to avoid motion blur. Ste the aperture at f 8.0 for a maximum depth of field,  with a exposure compensation of E.V. -0.7 to darken the background still more.

Black paper with hole

Align stem over cut hole

Single light position in back

 

Shooting a glass goblet using underlighting to create a graduated background with an illuminated effect

The orientation of the light panel will effect your image. Pull it forward, push it back, rotate it,  until you see the effect you desire. In the image on the left we have a shorter, dramatic transition from white to gray created by running the light panel sideways.

In the image on the right we see a smoother, longer gradation of white to grey. By rotating the light panel lengthwise more of the glass, shown right, is illuminated. In both cases, we positioned the goblet toward the front of the light panel. With more of the light panel behind your glassware, the higher the illumination effect will travel up your glass.

lite pads

The Lite pad position and size will effect how much of the goblet is illuminated

Very low-profile Kuhl Lite Pads ideal for
underlighting and backlighting

A larger Lite pad will illuminate a larger portion of the goblet.


 

Photographing a crystal mouse on a black background with underlighting creates a glowing effect

  1. Place the illuminated flat panel inside the EZcube®, beneath the standard nylon sweep.
     

  2. Cut a hole in a piece of black, matte paper from an art supply store. The hole should be slightly smaller than the base of the crystal.
     

  3. Place the crystal on top of the paper, which is over the light panel. Align the crystal carefully with the hole that's been cut, so the light can shine through the hole and illuminate the glass. The paper should continue on up following the curve of the sweep, creating a seamless black background.
     

  4. Do not use any additional lighting in this case; just the illuminated flat panel. Due to the small size, and shape of this crystal, the illuminated panel can light up the entire mouse. This was evident during set-up.
     

  5. Photograph with a digital camera on a tripod to avoid motion blur. Set the aperture to f 8.0 with a exposure compensation of E.V. -0.7 to darken the background still more.

Even amateur photographers can obtain dramatic results with minimal effort.
Below images were taken using the equipment listed below.

glass photography gallery

Glass Photography Tools & Equipment
The equipment shown here works great for taking pictures of glass, crystal and other translucent items as shown in some examples above.
Ideal for
EZcube
Background
Background
5000k Bulbs
More lights
Lite Pad
Acrylic
kit
Ideal for photographing glass & other translucent items
EZcube light box
ezbackdrop
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kuhl
trumpet top 12
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Glass Photography Tools
 

EZcube light tent for diffused, soft lighting and bacground support

White Translucent background that can be backlit

Graduated Backgrounds

Kühl Lite Combo soft-boxes with diffusion panels

5000k bulbs

12x12 Lite Pad for underlighting effects

16" x 16' Clear Acrylic can create a "floating invisible shelf" when combined with backlighting

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