Glass, Light, and Photography


In an effort to place some context to the images of the glass pieces on this website we are providing this information regarding equipment, technique, and history.

The photographer started shooting in 1968 while in high school.  He has worked as lead photographer in a public relations office as well as photographer for other organizations.  Types of photography has participated in are: Sports (basketball, football, track, baseball, softball, gymnastics, fencing, wrestling, volleyball, soccer, dance, field and ice hockey, rodeo, tennis, skateboard, archery, weight training, golf), fashion (preshow shots for publicity and the fashion show), criminal justice (procedural shots, graduations, driving exhibitions, criminal takedown and building searches), action (car and boat races, hill climbs), artistic (mood, shadow, dramatic lighting or night), event (concerts, awards, graduations, stage productions, chorus productions, conferences, promotional, guest speakers), community involvement, day-to-day life, public information, construction, insurance and litigation, agriculture, automotive, demonstrations, campus activities, student activities, architectural, aerial,  science and technology, warranty, nursing, food preparation,  firefighting, wildlife, landscapes, infrared, ultraviolet, and environmental portraiture.  And probably more that don't come to mind at this time.

Objectives and reasoning for the images provided of the glass pieces.  Final objective is to sell and perhaps create a continuing market for Mr. Pitts handmade glass products and talents.  To achieve that goal we are providing imagery that is consistent with the products potential.

Glass is an interesting material to photograph handmade glass is even more intriguing and difficult.  Each piece must be treated as an individual, each piece has its own shape, texture, and color that varies through the thickness of the glass.  Light moves through the glass picking up color as it travels and also refracting on the surface and shape.  One method of photographing objects for sale is to place the object in a white light box, this method works well for showing surface color, texture, and shape.  However glass has the ability to provide another dimension that being the light passing through the glass and adopting colors and imagery as it goes.  Consider a stained-glass window, if light is placed on the same side as the viewer it tends to be less pleasing than if the light is passing through the window from the opposite side of the viewer.  Therefore our objective is to present both possibilities to the potential customer, this method also helps the customer determine the internal coloring of the glass.  We also place the object on a brushed stainless steel surface so the client will get an understanding of the effects of light passing through the object.

Some people will look at the process we are using and say I don't have the equipment, money, or inclination to display the object in the manner being provided.  A $400 light head with a snoot might seem impractical or impossible outside of the studio.  However the first time I saw this type of light effect I was 15 years old and saw sunlight coming through a knothole inside a dark toolshed.  This effect is also similar to that of light coming through a window with drapes drawn almost closed so the light forms a shaft falling on the object.  This effect is also used in museums and galleries on 3-D objects when it is impractical to have lights located anywhere but directly above the object.  Consider overhead track lighting.  If a person wanted to create their own inexpensive version of what we do consider a flashlight placed in back of the object on the table, or a candle, or a kerosene lamp.  One of the reasons we are using the light heads that we have chosen is we can use the same light heads for videos that will also be provided on this website.  All of the lighting we are using provides a consistent kelvin temperature to that of outdoor sunlight, which is approximately 5600K.


Here are images under varying lighting conditions:

OK, so here we have one of Mr. Pitts pieces shot on a cloudy day in winter on the driveway in front of my house.  You can tell it's cloudy because the dark areas of the object that would normally block the light are not casting a shadow.  Notice how the yellow band on the top portion of the bowl is dark in one area and  light and other this is due to the background behind those particular areas the area where the concrete is in back of the piece is darker because the concrete reflects less light than the white pad the pieces sitting on.  The area where the white pad is behind the piece is lighter because white reflects more light and therefore the background is lighter.  This is why we use a consistent backdrop and background for the piece in the studio.  Notice the reflections in the dark areas of the piece on the front.  This is the reason we shoot in a darkened studio so that we do not receive reflections from objects in the room.  We are getting some light reflected off of the background objects passing through the subject piece and being recorded by the camera however under these conditions it's unpredictable and inconsistent also surface light is showing reflections which are not a part of the workpiece.

In this image we moved inside the shop and the pad is setting on a stainless steel surface the pad has a slightly warmer color to it due to the florescent lighting which is also reflected in the workpiece.  The stainless steel doesn't look like brushed stainless steel because the light is coming from behind the camera and therefore the reflected image would be away from the camera and angle.  Some areas of the workpiece are lighter than others due to the reflected light from the pad versus the reflected light from the stainless steel.  Reflections on the surface of the workpiece and inconsistent lighting make this a poor representation of the workpiece.




This is one of the light heads we use to light the workpiece that is to be photographed.  If you want details and specifications you can Google the name and make that is shown on the side of the light head.  Suffice to say it is 100 W LED light head that produces a constant daylight equivalent light.




In this image we see the light head attached to a snoot with a 15° grid attached to the end.  This will achieve light that is similar to sunlight passing through a knothole in the roof.  Since I don't want to cut a hole in the roof and wait for the sun to get in the right position I use this system.  The black backdrop you see on the right-hand side of the screen is the backdrop for the workpieces it creates an uncluttered neutral background unlike the one you're looking at right now.  The stainless steel surface that the white pad is sitting on will allow the light passing through the workpiece to be seen such as would happen if light were coming through window passing through the workpiece and displayed on the polished surface the table.  Stainless steel was used as it is a neutral color and therefore will provide more consistency in color rendering between the various workpieces.





Here we have a standard rechargeable Milwaukee brand work light that can be acquired at the local Home Depot is used to provide highly portable additional surface light when necessary.  The light output color temperature wise is very similar to that of the light head.

In this image I am using a standard 7 inch reflector, a diffusion filter, and an incandescent color filter on the light head.  The light is still too generalized as it is illuminating the backdrop and the general area around the workpiece.  Also the light is not nearly as bright as a cloudy day which is what you see coming in the door.  One thing we do see in this image is a consistent amount light passing through the workpiece and being visible on the white pad.