Glass and Crystal Photography Lighting Tips and Ideas
Do you know that before glass and crystal products become elegant as they are, they pass through a furnace with temperature that reaches 2,400 °F which is equivalent to 1,320 °C? This temperature is enough to turn a 45 kilograms of human body into ashes in just about 40 minutes.
By using different levels of temperature, skilled craftsmen mold the hot materials into different forms of useful glass or crystal products. The process of making these stuff is delicate and requires high level of craftsmanship. Thus, to give justice on this kind of preparation, the products should be presented in best manner may it be on tangible display or in photographs.
Today, we will learn how light and shoot glass and crystal products to make them pop in a photograph.
Make Use of Different Types Light Source
Sometimes a model lamp and strobe lights are of less importance when it comes to crystal and glass photography, and when you find out that they don’t really work, go and get a fluorescent lamp, flash lights, LED lamps and other sources of light that you know.
Personally, I feel comfortable working with continuous lights than strobe lights, that’s why I use CFLs, fluorescent and LED lamps when shooting crystals.
Don’t Depend on Rembrandt Lighting Setup
Bob Brandon (2005) says that the Rembrandt setup is the most commonly used method of lighting. I don’t’ mean that you totally forget Rembrandt Lighting because it also essential, but oftentimes, this lighting set up doesn’t work when it come to shooting glass and crystals. Try to experiment for new arrangement of your lights that will pop the details of crystals up.
Whenever you see at your viewfinder that the designs (the curves, lines and carving) on the body of your product are not clearly emphasized, don’t hesitate to change the positions of your lights.
Colored Lights for Colorless Glasses
For colorless glasses, try to use colored lights to reflect color to the products. You can also put multi-colored Christmas lights behind the product and create a bokeh for a dramatic background. You can do this as alternative to decorative props and colorful background.
Take Advantage of Underlighting
I am not suggesting that you buy illuminated flat panel, but good for you if you already have it. Instead buying such panel, you can use a glass table where you can shoot your crystal or glass products. Just place your light facing up below the table. Of course your glass table must be a see-through, preferably transparent.
Please take this photo of glass item below as example. This is shot on a piece of see-through glass with CFL and fluorescent lamp placed below that glass. See the illustration blow.
As you can see, to get the details of the design of the glass product above, I used three light sources and glass table. Actually, it was not really a glass table. It was just a piece of thick glass from a display cabinet that was junked because it has cracks on the edges – just finding alternatives to save some dollars. ^_^
On this crystal photography lighting set up, please take note that the dominant light is from below the product. The fill light is from the beauty dish in lower front and the CFL+DIY holder as kicker light. The long fluorescent lamp is intended to produce strip light reflection which the beauty dish can’t do to enhance the details.
Touch-up Your Photos
I will be hypocrite if I will say that I didn’t post process the photos of the product you see above. I do use Photoshop to enhance the looks of the image. Make sure to clean some unpleasant elements on the image using an image editing software. I highly recommend Adobe Photoshop for that purpose. After everything on your image is okay, apply ‘sharpen’ filter as final touch to have crisp product photo.
Additional Glass and Crystal Photography Tips
- Use gradient or graduated background.
- Add props on the arrangement. Food on glass bowl and orange juice in glass are more appealing compared from empty items.
- Clean the items before shooting; make sure to remove the dirt and marks on the item.
- Use cotton gloves or fabric when handling the item to avoid finger prints on the surface of the product.
- Temporarily remove the brand label. Branded glass and crystal products have labels stuck on the items, so don’t forget to remove them because they are distracting. However, you have no choice but to follow if you are required to shoot the items including the brand label.
If you something to add, let us talk about it in comments.
Thank you for reading. Godspeed!