Glass is one of the hardest thing to photograph. It is transparent, hard to define, and punish for every spec of dust. In this post, we will explore two cheap, easy ways to ease the pain of shooting glass. And get stuffed with Pringles while doing so.
Bright Field and Dark Field are two lighting techniques used to shoot glass I first saw the term while reading Light Science & Magic though the principles are probably way older then the book.
Photographer Steve Bennett came up with a sweet and super cheap setup to perform both lighting schemes quickly and on a budget.
Why Is Glass So Hard?
Glass is hard to shoot for several reasons
- It has mirror qualities and it reflects almost anything in front of it creating distractions
- It is transparent and light just goes through it making it hard to define its shape
- It is very smooth and punishes up for every speck of dust
Dark Field Lighting
The edges are lit by light, bigger than our background and right behind it. For that we want to keep out background small, and use a sheet of semi-opaque material for creating the light source.
The image above was taken using the setup below. The light is coming from a single CFL bulb and reflected from the background and from the two simple V-cards. (The V-card have a white side on their back).
The black background is seen through the body of the bottle, but the edges are defined by the light that goes behind the black card and reflected by the v-cards.
Bright Field Lighting
The background is lit and the body of the glass pears to be white. The edges are defined by dark cards that create “negative light”.
Again, the background light is limited to the smallest area possible to reduce flare.
The image on the left was taken using the setup below.
Two CFL snoots were used to create a contained white background, and black cards were used to define the edges of the glass.
This is the best part, Steve uses uber cheap tools to create his lighting, but compensate for money with creativity, smart use of lights and a ton of Pringles.
The images below should give a good idea on how to create each tool, but I encourage you to lick through and read the full explanation on the photo description.
I like those solutions because A – CFL are one of the cheapest sources of light available, and B – it shows that lack of gear is never an obstacle for the creative mind.
The Snoot (A LA Pringles & CFL Bulb)
Baked Beans Diffusion Screens
Box File V-Cards
Your Best Friend For Shooting Glass
As you may have noticed, all the images on this post are of Steve Bennet, If you are in to technical shooting on a low budget, lurk his stream like I do.