Working with class is among of most enjoyable photo-shoots for me: I love the clarity and transparency of glass, and it is almost like working with liquids (another of my favorite subject).
In this article I show you how we did one of our commercial assignments: client wanted to have pictures of the award that company have received. It was a very serious accomplishment for them. The award itself was a glass sculpture, glass sphere on top of glass cube.
For this particular shot we had client with us in a studio, it was very interesting to go through each step of setting the light and showing the client how the image gets changed.
The Lighting, step-by step:
First, I’ve started from the idea of highlighting the object from the behind: this is the usual way to make glass look good.
Three light sources were used:
First, a medium size softbox from top to highlight the area under the object while providing a gradient fill for the background.
Second and third, two strip-boxes, were placed from each side mainly to brighten words on a cube and a matte sphere on top:
Lighting setup, step 1
This is the outcome we got by using this setup:
Top of the award looked nice, but the words on a cube does not look good at all: too bright background was not contrast enough, making wording look flat and non-distinguishable from the background.
So, I’ve used 2 foam-board screens, (black side towards background, white towards the subject) to reduce light spill on the background.
In addition, spot light was added to create a spot on the background behind the subject, and another spot (honeycomb grid) was used to highlight the cube with engraved text: it suppose to add a contrast for the text.
Lighting setup, step 2
Now the engraved text looks better. However, bright spot on the background behind the cube does not let words to stand out enough. Next obvious step is to move the spot to be right behind the spherical part of the award:
Looks much better, isn’t it?
At this point I was ready to say “we done”, but immediately noticed the difference between right and left side of the sphere. Right side had very nice gradient filling, while left side did not. This is our spot light from the left made all the way through the glass and highlighted the right part of the sphere.
To fix this, I’ve added one more strobe monolight through the same 10º spot (honeycomb grid) from the right. The actual setup below (that right spot is not there, I’ve made the photo before this addition)
Lighting setup, the final:
The final lighting setup specification:
1, 2 : AB 400 through 10º honeycomb grid.
3, 4: WL X1600 through 9”x36” stripboxes.
5: WL X1600 through 24”x24” softbox, position on top of the subject.
6: AB800 through 10º honeycomb grid to make that background spot.
By having all lighting positioned symmetrically we lost that extra contrast on the edges of the wording on the cube, but client liked it this way, and I agreed:-) Below as-is, unretouched version of the final shot:
The final image (before post-processing)
Hope it was interesting:-)
Lighting, light modifiers and accessories:
Exposure specification: shutter speed 1/250 sec, F16, ISO 100
If you like to learn more about commercial studio tabletop photography, make sure to check out this e-book:
This ebook is based on Alex Koloskov’s product photography masterclass we held in August 2011 in Atlanta. During this 5 hour class Alex photographed seven different subjects and demonstrated how to effectively use various light modifiers (Most of them were DIY) for completely different product types.
We used a watch, jewelry ring, 3 bottles of liqueur, (clear, dark glossy and matte), saxophone and perfume.
Alex is a big fan of DIY stuff, mostly because it gives me ability to have custom built lighting gear which usually works much better than the standard off-shell solution.