View Full Version : Photographing Glassware

Linda Butterfield
11-16-2009, 11:25 PM
Can anyone give me some direction for photographing glassware? I have a photobox with the two lights for the sides and I can't get good results without a lot of glare. I got the box hoping it would solve the glare problems I had just using my cameras flash but not having any luck.

Does anyone have any experience with this that they would share? I want to get some pics up on my website.

John Schulz
11-16-2009, 11:47 PM
Linda, what type of camera are you using? If it is a DSLR, you should have no problem finding a polarizing filter which will help tremendously on removing glare (in or out of the light tent). If you are using a compact "point and shoot" digital camera, you can still use a polarizer, but you may have to make a holder for it in front of the lens. Having a laser and some acrylic you can make a bracket to mount on the bottom of the camera using velcro, a 90 degree bend for the filter to be parallel to the lens and in front of the lens, yet still be able to rotate the filter as needed. The polarizer works by means of rotating the filter to block or increase the glare reflections of light. The filters come in many sizes to match the lens threads (useful for DSLR cameras) but any size will work for a "point and shoot" to shoot through. Have the polarizer as close to the front lens element as possible to block out stray reflections from coming in.

In a studio environment (i.e. Light tent) use a tripod and side lighting along with top or "above" lighting (one or both side lights, depending on illumination effect). Do not worry about color cast or exposure compensation with a polarizer - the cameras will take all that into consideration for you. Polarizers are generally considered neutral in color.

Darren Null
11-17-2009, 12:14 AM
Don't use the flash.


1) Take them out into the garden and photograph them against a dark background (I usually wear black, so I normally just use whatever jumper I'm wearing). There should be enough light outside that you can handhold the camera and just snap away. Be careful of reflections.

2) Indoors.
a- Turn your camera flash off.
b- Light your object with white light sources (your photobox, or a couple of LED torches). If you're getting reflections/glare from your lights, move them a little closer and put paper over the front
c- Set your camera on timer; and let it sort itself out without the flash. As you're doing a longer exposure, you want to put the camera somewhere steady...a tripod is ideal, but you can prop it up on anything. As it's on timer, it should stop wobbling before it takes the photo.
d- Take a few photos and play around with the light sources. Also, try lighting from directly above and below...get the glass to light itself up.

Dan Hintz
11-17-2009, 6:40 AM
It may seem silly, but I have to ask... are you using the lightbox correctly? Some people think placing the object in the lightbox is what brings the magic out, but they don't realize you skip the flash and have to actually light the box from outside. Just checking...

Dave Johnson29
11-17-2009, 9:56 AM
Can anyone give me some direction for photographing glassware?

Use a tripod and the timer and turn off the flash.

If you have a Macro setting on the camera, use that.

Move the glass back and forth in the box to get the best lighting effect.

If it is still not bright enough then turn the flash back on and sticky-tape a small piece of tissue over the flash bulb. Just tape it at the top and let it hang in front of the flash. That will diffuse the flash and kill the glare.

You can even try using white paper or even newspaper to adjust the amount of diffusion and extra light.

Don Kondra
11-17-2009, 11:50 AM
Hi Linda,

Can you tell us what camera model you are using and perhaps post an example of what you are trying to shoot ?

If possible, set the camera to aperture mode > f8. Then the camera will determin what shutter speed is necessary. It will be slow so a tripod is a must.

Use a CF bulb with a color rating of 5500k. That will give you a correct color balance.

For now, this is an example.

28" cube light tent, gray paper backdrop. White foam core on the left side, cloudy daylight from the right side and a 26w CF bulb placed at the top right front corner shining more onto the back than onto the piece.

Keep in mind the color of the foamcore will be reflected in the glass so you might want to experiment with black also.


Cheers, Don

Darren Null
11-17-2009, 12:38 PM
Nicely done, Don.

Josh Reet
11-17-2009, 12:45 PM
One thing to remember when photographing clear glass is that, unlike a opaque object, just sticking it in a light tent isn't going to help you all that much. Due to the glass being clear, you need to have some sort of darker reflection along the edges to make it stand out from the white background. Don alludes to this when he suggests using black foam core.

I wish I could find a photo of the setup I ended up using when I was in photo school and we had an assignment dealing with clear glassware. It was more complicated than anyone here probably needs, as the assignment was very specific. but it would illustrate the issue quite well.

But of course I can't find it.

James Leonard
11-17-2009, 5:45 PM
Have a look at the Table Top Studio website for some great advice. Also my website (Leonard Musical Instruments) has some pretty nice photos of mother of pearl which is also pretty difficult to shoot. I am using an Olympus E10 in a light tent with three CFL lights from the table top people. The secret to the pearl photos is a piece of HDR software called photomatix that lets me do multiple exposures then blend them for a very wide dynamic range and great detail both in the highlights and dark areas.

-James Leonard

Bill Cunningham
11-17-2009, 9:45 PM
I try to take a quick shot of anything I do that seems interesting (to me anyway) Glass placed on a dark background, no flash, and a tripod usually does the trick

HEY!!! This is post 2000 for me...

Jeff Luedloff
11-19-2009, 5:20 AM
I used white board to reflect the light to take off hot spots..no lights are pointed straight at my glasses


Lee DeRaud
11-19-2009, 10:29 AM
Ok, I think we've got the glassware thing sorted...how about mirrors? :eek:

Dan Hintz
11-19-2009, 10:48 AM
You need smoke... lots of smoke. I know this because I'm always hearing people talk about smoke and mirrors. :)

Darren Null
11-19-2009, 11:28 AM
Ok, I think we've got the glassware thing sorted...how about mirrors?
Mirrors are easy- take them at an angle and then straighten them up in photoshop.

Don Kondra
11-19-2009, 6:26 PM
So where is Linda?

Cheers, Don

Bill Cunningham
11-19-2009, 11:00 PM
The trick with mirrors, is they should reflect nothing...
A large white card, or even sky works well..
Attached Thumbnails http://www.sawmillcreek.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=74865&stc=1&thumb=1&d=1194576853 (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=74865&d=1194576853)

Darren Null
11-20-2009, 12:19 AM
Hold CTRL down, drag the corners around in Photoshop a bit et voila: