Create Abstract Glass Still Lifes

Here are a few pointers for creating glass still lifes.

21/06/2013 - 00:00

bottles
Image by David Townley.

Even though it's summer, the likelihood is that we'll have our fair share of rainy days too. So when it's tipping it down outside, why now have a go at shooting some glass abstracts?

Some great effects can be achieved by photographing different coloured glass against a white background. You needn't buy anything new to have a go at this, as a large sheet or large piece of flat card or paper will do fine as the background. You can use normal house lamps to create a warmer tone to the images. Your subject will be still, so there's no need for fast shutter speeds and often no need for flash – light from a normal bulb and a tripod to keep the camera still will be fine.

You can have a go at this technique with anything glass that you have around the house. A green wine bottle and wine glass will work well, as will vases, frosted or see through, and plain old glasses.

To create a nice plain background for your shots, try rolling plain paper onto a wooden chair, or if this isn't possible, try attaching the paper to a door frame and set up on a folding table. If there is a window behind the set-up, this will work well as a light source as the light will already be diffused by the background. Place the bottles about 50cm away from the background and use a shallow depth of field to really make the bottles and glasses stand out.

For foreground lighting, an ordinary lamp can be used to create a warmer feel if you don't have off camera flash. You might need an assistant to hold some tracing paper in front of the lamp to diffuse the light and stop harsh reflections.

By placing frosted vases or bottles behind the plain ones, you can create some interesting lighting effects as the light won't pass as freely through the frosted ones. This allows for some lovely half and half patterned shots. By placing see through glass in front of coloured glass and filling the see through glass with water, you can create 'opposite' colours. This will create a cross shaped pattern, a bit like a battenberg cake, that creates interest for the viewer. Set the camera up so that it's in line with the glass, and the bottle behind slightly to the left or right.

Use aperture priority mode, or get your aperture to your liking, and compensate with the shutter speed until you get the desired effect. Experiment with compositions until you find one to your liking. These suggestions are just the beginning for abstract glass photos. Have a go yourself and see what you can achieve!

Tips:
  • Try converting to black and white for a more sophisticated look
  • Experiment with your composititon
  • Place frosted glass ebhind clear glass for an interesting effect
  • Fill the front glass/ vase with water to create the 'opposites' effect
  • Use normal lamps with tracing paper held in front to diffuse light and create a warmer look


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