How would you take this shot?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Burt Johnson, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. Burt Johnson

    Burt Johnson Guest

    Pick any of them along the bottom. I am impressed with the whole batch.
    This person was part of a photo display at a local camera store
    recently. I was wow'd enough that I thought I would try it... and got
    junk... :-(

    Turns out to be harder than I thought to shoot transparent glass against
    white and knock out the background...

    My shots have the vase looking grey and dull, and I have a heck of a
    time properly knocking the background out because there are places the
    vase just disappears (it _is_ transparent, after all).

    This person has somehow mastered this technique. Nicely illuminated
    images. Great transparent glass, yet with well defined edges.
    Background cleanly knocked out -- I saw the 20X24 prints and up close
    they were immaculate.

    The plants in my vases look fine. If I could get the glass to look like
    this, I would consider it a personal success.

    I have tried a light tent, and no tent. Lights on sides, top, back in
    various combinations. I have tried tungsten, but not yet flash (I don't
    have enough of them for a good multi-flash setup), but can't see how
    that would make any difference for a still object like this.

    My Photoshop skills are "early intermediate" I guess. I can do the
    basics, and periodically wow the family with fixing bad snapshots, or
    taking that tree out of the niece's head (or salvaging a terrible Board
    of Directors shoot my wife did last year where she did not notice the
    streak of light from the window going right over their faces...). I
    barely understand masks, smart objects, or the other more advanced
    tricks of CS3 (which I own) though.

    Any suggestions? Hints? Tutorials (!) ?
    Burt Johnson, Mar 24, 2008
    1. Advertisements

  2. Burt Johnson

    Paul Furman Guest

    It would help to see what you are getting (before trying to photoshop).
    Those shots look backlit as if they were set on a wrap-around light
    table. I took some shots of glass electric pole insulators stacked in a
    windowsill the other day and they came out beautiful... I'll just credit
    luck on that but apparently back-lighting works.
    Paul Furman, Mar 24, 2008
    1. Advertisements

  3. Burt Johnson

    Burt Johnson Guest

    I'll see if I can put them up somewhere. maybe in Flickr? They are not
    anything I would want to show off normally... :-(
    Those do look quite nice. It is the glass that is giving me trouble
    though, and the separation from the background.

    It is the transparent nature of the material, and the fact that you can
    see the background through it, that makes it hard to separate from the

    I see your edit looks much nicer than the orig. Was that more than just
    color balance fixed and tonal adjustments?
    Burt Johnson, Mar 24, 2008
  4. Burt Johnson

    Paul Furman Guest

    I think for those examples the images were pretty much as you see, just
    a little cleanup.
    Boosting contrast: shadows, brightness & saturation increased from raw.
    Lots of times I'll decrease contrast, just for reference...
    Paul Furman, Mar 24, 2008
  5. Burt Johnson

    Cats Guest


    At a guess the vases used are all pretty thick, which gives them
    definite edges. Also if you are shooting against a white background
    you need to check the camera is exposing for the subject, not the
    background - but I expect you knew that.

    Fine a really thick vase and see if it helps.

    I agree the examples look like they were shot on a back-light table,
    with some front light as well.
    Cats, Mar 24, 2008
  6. Like the others here, I would guess they are shot in a light tent with
    the vast majority of the light from the rear and 'careful' exposure.
    I would also hazard a guess, given the transparent look of the leaves
    in many shots, that the backlight levels are *very high*. The lighting
    is indeed quite puzzling..

    But I'm afraid I don't like them enough to attempt to duplicate the
    setup... they mostly just hurt my eyes! They would probably look ok
    as a set of prints adorning an appropriate room, however.

    Report back if you get anything close. Maybe there is a use for
    it... (O:
    mark.thomas.7, Mar 25, 2008
  7. Burt Johnson

    Pat Guest

    Unlike everyone else here, I doubt if they were shot in a white tent
    -- at least in any traditional sense.

    Glass is hard to shoot. My guess is the photographer has a least one
    light -- maybe more -- dedicated to just the vase. I don't think
    these are "stick them in a soft box and snap a picture" things.

    But if you want to play around an experiment, I think the secret
    ingredient you are missing is water. I'd bet those vases have water
    in them, so they reflect light quite differently than empty ones. If
    you really want to separate the vase from the background, but a drop
    of black food coloring in the water to make is slightly opaque. So
    try water and light the vase from behind.

    Oh, btw, this calls for good photography, not good photoshopping.
    Pat, Mar 28, 2008
  8. Burt Johnson

    Vance Guest

    As you say, glass is transparent. The only things you are
    photographing with transparent glass are the reflections and where the
    glass bends the light. A trick I learned to use is to include black
    objects that the glass can pickup in a manner similar to the way a
    lens works (refraction). In a light tent, which can be used, these
    can be strategically placed strips of black construction paper inside
    the tent. I generally light from on top with a softbox and the left
    and right sides of the light table have black foam core panels.

    I don't care for the punched out background look very much and only
    use it for a very limited number of situations and subjects, so there
    is probably a lot more to know. An aquaintance of mine who owns a
    studio that does a lot of these kinds of shots turned me on to this
    setup when I had to shoot some fine crystal stemware.

    Vance, Mar 30, 2008
  9. Burt Johnson

    Rob Guest

    Check out a book called (something like) Light Science and Magic - it
    covers this situation exactly. One of the other posters pretty much
    got it saying that the edges of the glass are picking up a black
    object. The simplest way to do this is to have the white backlit
    surface be just large enough to fill the frame, then the area just
    outside is black. You can play around with the subject to backlight
    and camera to subject distance to vary the degree of black you get.
    It's worth a try as it's quite satisfying when you get it right.
    Rob, May 10, 2008
  10. Burt Johnson

    Burt Johnson Guest

    Amazon has 82 reviews with a composite 5 stars, which is pretty
    exceptional. I just ordered it -- thx for the pointer!

    Your description sounds like it makes sense too. I have looked at some
    of these and there does seem to be a nice black edge defining the glass.
    My guess is that you have it right here.
    Burt Johnson, May 10, 2008
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.