Sometimes it Just Doesn’t Work

Usually I don’t mind it so much if a planned photographing session doesn’t produce usable results because I generally learn something in the process; but not always.

I have just spent a very frustrating day trying to photograph a glass. The book Light: Science & Magic has a very good chapter on how to light glass. I had tried it very briefly on a previous occasion and got a result good enough to give me encouragement.

The technique for photographing a glass on a white background (in brief) is to have the white background the same size as the field of view of the camera, then bounce the light off the background back through the glass. Buy the book for the full explanation.

I set up the camera and the background, then carefully masked out the area of the camera’s field of view (not easy by yourself). Once that was done I began shooting.

Two problems emerged immediately. I was getting good definition of the sides and stem, but no definition of the rim of the glass. And the white base the glass was sitting on wasn’t getting enough light and was being rendered as a dirty gray. Not good. The only thing I can think of was that I set the glass and camera up too far away from the background. I’ll try that one again when I have the time to go through the masking process again.

In an attempt to gain some usable images, I switched to a macro lens, filled the glass with water, moved in very close and photographed food dye drops in the water.

Two problems immediately emerged. The macro lens showed up every flaw and smudge on the glass; and no matter how I tried, even at f16 I couldn’t get enough of the colouring in focus to produce a usable image.

After spending a lot of time trying to get a glass spotlessly clean and work out a way to get the drops to fall exactly in my very narrow zone of focus, I gave up.

Somedays it just doesn’t work.

This entry was posted in art, discussion, explanation.


  1. s2art May 17, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    nice looking abstract though

  2. Interface May 17, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    Ta, but if it is shown at a reasonable size, it is too blurry for my taste, and there are spots and marks I don’t like. Maybe I shouldn’t be so picky. 🙂

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