Sunday, October 11, 2009

Photographing Clear Glass is . . . Hard!

I love the way that clear glass catches the light and plays all sorts tricks with it. Depending on the direction of the light, its color, strength, and the environment the object is in - the piece will look different and unique with each combination. However what you see is not what you get. This piece is just one example. This is a blown vessel that has a leaf motif cut around the "equator" and a highly polished lip/rim.

Now this isn't the best photograph in the world, but it does show some of the problems I've encountered on the way trying to photograph these things. I don't have a "pro" level photo setup with a frosted table, darkened studio, and lights. I do have a photo tent and some decent lights though. This set up is good enough for most of the work I want to photograph. I do have a really high-quality 35mm camera and lenses, but I don't use it much anymore - its just too hard and time consuming, especially if I want to end up with digital images.

So I set about to photograph this piece digitally. This isn't even the hardest clear piece I have to shoot. Note that I have a Nikon Coolpix which doesn't have a couple of manual controls that I would like, but it does every thing else quite well. I take most of the reference pictures of my glass work with it. So it should have been a no-brainer for this piece. But it wasn't.

First, on the plain background I normally use, the camera wouldn't focus. It kept focusing on the background and then the foreground...and on and on. So I got an old table cloth with some texture, and at least the camera could find a focus. I finally fooled the camera into getting a mostly focused shot at this point, but not perfect. And then the color is really off - the table cloth goes from tan to a cool blue - when it should be white.

I like this piece, but I just couldn't get a good enough picture to make it worth the effort in Photoshop to clean up the light reflections, the poor color casts, etc.

Photographing glass can be...hard, really hard.

1 comment:

  1. Jeff, invest in a good quality digital SLR and life will be much easier. I use a Nikon D300 to photograph all of my glass for my website. Not only are the auto focus, auto exposure, and white balance systems much better but you will have access to what are called RAW files. These consist of the raw sensor data with no adjustments done by the camera. This will allow you to make all of the traditional camera based adjustments like white balance afterwards on your computer. Oh and there is a really good used market for these so you dont have to spend retail.

    Larry C