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Photographing a Glass with Dark Edges

Quarantine: Photograph a Glass with Dark Edges

Let’s stay creative! In this post you’ll learn how to photograph glass without reflections and with dark edges. Keep reading to learn how.

I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of images of glasses, so you have seen that many of those images show the glasses with reflections. In some cases that may be planned but, what if you want to photograph a glass without reflections? Better yet, how can we make the edge of the glass look dark? It’s actually simple.

The Setup

Many of the photographs we make have a light source that is more or less aligned with the camera lens. If you use this alignment trying to photograph glass, you’ll end up with a reflection. In order to avoid the reflection, we need to re-align our light source. We could place it to the side of the scene, but in this case, we’re going to place it in front of the camera, pointing towards the camera.

I started with a clamp light, with a simple tissue paper diffuser on. Of course, you can use some other light that you have available. This light is across from the camera, at the end of my working surface (my dining table). 

Then, I placed two light stands on either side of the lamp, tied some paracord between them and hung a large piece of tissue paper. You could use a shower curtain, a bedsheet or an old t-shirt instead of the tissue paper. The end result is a large  (50 x 60cm – 20 x 24in) diffuser, across from the camera.

The next step is to place the glass on our working surface. You could place the glass on a reflective surface, like a glass top table, or on a piece of acrylic, in order to create a reflection. If you don’t have a reflective surface, you can look for a similar glass, place it upside down on your surface, then place the actual glass to photograph on top and frame the image so you photograph the glass on top and a portion of the one below.

Glass with Lighting - Neutral Exposure
Glass with Lighting – Neutral Exposure

After that, it’s a matter of framing and setting the camera. I used my X-T2 with XF56mmF1.2 R lens, so I could frame the top glass as described before. The camera setting that I’m sure I don’t want to change is the aperture, which will be f/5.6 so only the glass is in focus. The tissue paper has a few wrinkles and I don’t want them to be in focus. In order to make those wrinkles less evident, we need to over-expose the image a little, maybe 1 stop.

Glass with Lighting - Over Exposed
Glass with Lighting – Over Exposed

After a few test shots and adjustments, the glass looks very good. The only thing I want to enhance is the edge of the glass. In order to make it look darker, it needs to reflect dar objects. That’s why I added a couple of v-flats on either side of the glass. This prevents too much light reaching the camera, and it makes the glass edge a bit darker.

Glass with Lighting and Black V-flats
Glass with Lighting and Black V-flats

How About Flash?

If you have a flash and softbox, you can create the same image. You only need to replace the lamp and diffuser with your flash and softbox combination. In my case, I used a 60×90 cm (24×36 in) softbox with a Godox TT685 inside of it. I then used an X1T transmitter on top of my camera.

Of course, flash requires an adjustment to my parameters, so I kept the aperture at f/5.6, but changed ISO to 100 and shutter speed is now 1/250 s. This way, it’s a matter of adjusting the flash power to get the desired effect.

After a few test shots, we can see a very similar result.

Glass with Flash/Softbox and Black V-flats
Glass with Flash/Softbox and Black V-flats

And now, you have two ways to photograph glass with a dark edge, using continuous light or flash. Have you tried something similar? Tell you what, post your images on social media using the hashtags #creativequarantine and #alexsilvaphotography so I can take a look at them.

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