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03-18-2017, 05:46 PM   #1
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Opalescent Glass

I have to photograph some antique Victorian glass curtain tiebacks.
Some of them are opalescent and I'd like to show that remarkable dimensional quality.
Anyone ever shot anything like this?
I've shot low key for steel/chrome etc. but product photography is normally high key.
They're not installed.

03-18-2017, 09:26 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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Opalescent glass tends to look good on a dark background. I've shot a lot on a simple tabletop setup using two desk lights and just sheets of black card or construction paper as a backdrop. You might also want to mix in some back-lit shots to show the glowing oranges and reds you get when opalescent glass transmits light too.

In terms of exposure I'd spot meter off the object then adjust accordingly. For lenses I'd think the DA 35 2.8 macro Ltd or DFA 50 2.8 macro would be ideal though with good lighting you can get by with less ambitious choices. I started out with a Fuji point and shoot but now use a DSLR often with either my trusty DA 16-45 of F35-70.

Having worked in the antiques trade, and still having a big collection I'm slowly cataloguing, I have photographed a lot of opalescent glass over the years. Most has been French or French style stuff from the 1920s-30s but the same techniques also apply to Victorian heat-struck opals. You can see some of my shots here: Opalescent Glass | Flickr. Most were shot using the techniques above but lately I've also taken some quick shots lit by natural light through the window (e.g. All sizes | Pair of Jobling 2594 Flat Leaf Pattern Candlesticks | Flickr - Photo Sharing!). This obviously gives you much less control but with care you can get results that are good enough for sales or cataloguing purposes. Opalescent glass is a great subject to shoot due to the way it changes appearance depending on the direction of light so have fun and experiment.
03-19-2017, 12:16 PM   #3
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I think I'm going to practice this at home. I'm feeling a little bit apprehensive as I normally strobe everything.
The lens I use for small objects is my AF-S 18-70 3.5-4.5G ED which needs a lot of light.
I shot a collection of vinegar cruets about 10 years ago but It was a different look that I was after.

Your images are inspiring!
Really great work!
03-19-2017, 05:08 PM   #4
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I played around with light today.
Two small speedlights and camera pop up.

Edit: sorry about the dust.
My S2 Pro is filthy!

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03-19-2017, 07:08 PM   #5
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I'll mess around a little more tomorrow to see what angle bounces around in the glass best.
I'm wondering now, what a single speedlight and high speed synch would look like.
Also want to try it out without white paper.
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03-20-2017, 11:36 AM   #6
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So I guess I'm going with this;
Single speedlight on the hotshoe, bare head at close range.
Fast sync 1/5000 shutter speed.
Sometimes you just K.I.S.S.!
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03-20-2017, 02:28 PM   #7
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I think I get it. I made a mountain out of a mole hill and this will be no problem.
I'll show a couple like this....Maybe some with deeper DOF.
I'll see what they want.
Aaand.../thread!
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03-20-2017, 08:22 PM   #8
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Looking great, especially the last one. The black background and strong lighting really highlights the opalescence.

Another effect you might want to try is to place a sheet of glass over some black paper or cloth and put the tiebacks on this then get down low to shoot. This should give you a nice mirrored reflection of each tieback. I tried it here but it's not the best choice for this item. For small pieces though the effect can look great.


For the pink one I'd try getting some light from behind or underneath. For example I shot this pink bowl on a sheet of heavy tracing paper on top of a glass coffee table with a third light beneath.


For this type of work though I'd recommend using constant lighting or studio flash with decent modelling lights as you really need to look where the light is falling in order to control the effect. If you shoot from a tripod there's no need for high shutter speeds: this also means you can get away with quite modest light sources (e.g. desk lamps with matching daylight balanced bulbs or cheap LED panels).

For inspiration you can take a look at Simon Bruntnell's work: Simon Bruntnell Freelance Photographer - Glass and Reflective Product Photography Specialist - Simon Bruntnell Photography There are also a few tips here (including from Simon) on the Glass Message Board here: TECHIE TIPS: Photographing Glass on a Budget...


Last edited by Suzhouren; 03-20-2017 at 08:36 PM.
03-20-2017, 09:54 PM   #9
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That's a great idea. And thanks for the links.
I had a school bus windshield for that purpose but eventually something bumped it.
I'll have to find another.
My black board is a treadmill deck. The black coating is similar to Teflon.
My white board is just that...An old dry erase board. The paper is dollar store card I use to experiment with and bounce/fill.
My "studio" is my Winnebago!
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