Photographing light bulbs is a long established photographic technical exercise. They present pretty much every lighting problem a photographer can face. You have to deal with reflections, refractions, surface brightness, and even illumination from within the bulb itself.
Brazilian Photographer Alexandre Watanabe decided to take the familiar light bulb a step further this time, though. To photograph it perfectly on either black or white isn’t easy. To be able to do it on both and present it so well is very impressive.
As Alexandre explains…
The idea was to use photos of lightbulbs to create a new image, giving a little more dimension and 3D feel in the final image.
Alexandre started off with a simple sketch to get his idea written down.
It’s a very cool concept for a subject that’s been photographed so many times. As well as his initial sketch, Alexandre also created lighting setups for both shots.
On the set with the white background, Alexandre used white foamcore as reflectors to help illuminate the metal base of the ball. For the black image, no such reflectors were required. The white edge of the softbox peeking out from the edges of the black foamcore refracts through the edge of the glass to create a perfect outline.
If you’re wondering how Alexandre managed to light the bulbs without them being in holders, there’s a great tutorial over on the Strobist website explaining how that can be done.
Fantastic work. If you want to see more of Alexandre’s images, check him out on Instagram.