The Essentials on How to Photograph Glass
You might just need to capture that beautiful vase or crystal wineglass that sits on your mantelpiece, or maybe put up a glass item for sale on eBay. Whatever the need, if not done the right way, photographs of glass can quickly turn into a disaster, replete with bright spots and myriad reflections. To eliminate these, we need to ensure that the lighting is at the right angle, and the environment immediately around the glass subject is controlled, so as to prevent reflections. This is done by ensuring the following:
Use diffused light:
The kind of light used is the one most important aspect to consider when learning how to photograph glass. The light has to be diffused and not hard or direct. Diffuse glass reduces glare and uniformly lights up the reflective surface. One may diffuse light in the following ways:
Use natural diffuse light like outdoors on a cloudy day.
- Place the object in a white box with walls made of white sheet or thin white plastics or even plexiglass or a white cotton cloth.
Bounce light off a white surface like a poster board or the ceiling.
- Using multiple low power lights placed uniformly around the subject gives a more diffuse light than one or two bright lights.
Use a polarizing filter:
The polarizing filter can cut reflections from shiny surfaces like glass and metal. More on effective use of the polarizing filter can be found in this article.
Another tip for cutting out glare if photographing small glass beads or marbles is to put them in water and then take the photo through the water. This helps cut off most of the glare.
Have an uncluttered background:
An uncluttered, preferably plain and out-of-focus background draws the attention of the viewer to the foreground; in this case, the glass subject. Placing the object on a piece of colored paper or cloth, and placing the sheet both below as well as behind the subject would ensure a clutter-free surrounding.
Don't forget your tripod:
The one most important photographic accessory you will need for this exercise would be your tripod. You don't need an expensive professional grade tripod – even a small, portable one would do just as well. The advantages of using a tripod are many:
- It lets you place your camera in an optimal position in relation to the subject as well as the light sources.
- You can have longer exposures using softer sources of light to get the perfect tonality in the photograph.
Use of longer exposures also enables using smaller apertures, allowing one to effectively blur the background much better.