Commercial Glass shoot on Location
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Old 10-07-2011   #1
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Default Commercial Glass shoot on Location

I have a client that manufactures high-end exterior and interior doors. Some of these doors have large glass inserts that often have metal caning, wrought iron, frosted, rippled , textured and tinted glass. They can be a nightmare to light so that these qualities are shown properly.

To make matters more difficult, these glass inserts have to be photographed on location at the client's warehouse because there are so many pieces and the shipping is difficult and expensive. Since I can never be sure what I'll need on a shoot like this, I have to bring any and everything I can think of in the way of lighting, backgrounds, stands sand bags, computer for tethered shooting, etc. This involves real work on my part schlepping everything to the location.

One of the fun things about this kind of industial/product photography are the things you learn about the way things are manufactured. What I would have called the "leading" which holds the pieces of glass together and separates them from their neighbors, like in a stained glass window, is actually called "caning".

It's this caning which requires a clean bright highlight on one side of any vertical piece and horizontal piece and a softer fill highlight on the opposite side. Because some of these glass inserts are 5' tall I needed a diffused light source and fill card that were larger than 5 ft.

I used a large 6'5" square diffusion panel on the right side as the main light. Placed very close to the glass, this large light source laid clean highlights on the right side of any vertical piece of caning. I lit this large diffusion panel from behind with a 3'x4' soft box.

A 3'x4' soft box above the set on a boom did the same for the top edge of any horizontal piece of caning. A 4'x8' white foam-core on the left added a softer highlight fill on the opposite side of the main light.

There were also pieces of textured glass, rippled glass and clear glass with beveled edges that were part of the design of these glass inserts. These features had to be highlighted. It took a while to figure out that using a grey background with spots of brighter areas was the way to illustrate these different qualities of glass. I used 2 or 3 flash heads with grids to make bright spots on the background. It was a matter of trial and error to place those bright spots of light to properly affect the different textures of glass.

These glass inserts had a sheet of clear glass over their front and back so another concern was avoiding any reflections in the front surface of the glass of any lighting, tripod, camera or photographer. I had to wrap the tripod with black cloth and use a faster shutter speed and tighter (f/13) f stop to eliminate any ambient light from the warehouse. Fortunately I could avoid showing my own reflection because I was able to fire the camera using the tethered computer and didn't have to stand near the camera.

Here are some views of the setup.....

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Attached Images
File Type: jpg Front.jpg (142.4 KB, 315 views)
File Type: jpg DiffPanel.jpg (122.9 KB, 318 views)
File Type: jpg Bkgd.jpg (126.4 KB, 317 views)
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Old 10-07-2011   #2
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Default Re: Commercial Glass shoot on Location

In this close-up you can see the different parts of the glass insert that I had to emphasize with the lighting.....
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Old 10-07-2011   #3
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Default Re: Commercial Glass shoot on Location

Interestingly, because of the distances from the lights to the subject and the light modifiers used, it took a lot of light just to get an exposure of f/13 at 100 ISO. The soft box lighting the large diffusion panel was about 6 ft. behind the panel and the panel was probably 3 ft. from the right edge of the subject. It took full power or a full 4800ws.

A second 4800ws power pack was used for the 2 background lights and the overhead 3'x4' softbox and it was set to 3/4 power or 3600ws.

That's a lot of light lost in the soft boxes and diffusion panel. Just goes to show that sometimes you need to bring the big boys out to play.

Here's the final shot.
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Old 10-07-2011   #4
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Default Re: Commercial Glass shoot on Location

The casual observer would never know the amount of labor that goes into setting up a shot like this, which I suppose, is the intent; it looks so normal and natural. And yet, there may be nothing more difficult to photograph well than glass and metal, with, perhaps, food coming in a close second. Well done and thanks for the back story....
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Old 10-07-2011   #5
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Default Re: Commercial Glass shoot on Location

You are a lighting artist. Outstanding end result and setup explanation
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Old 10-08-2011   #6
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Default Re: Commercial Glass shoot on Location

Brooks, you have my undying gratitude for posting this. I work for a company that manufactures high products like this and we have struggled over the years to light our glass well. I suspected that a setup like what you've shown might be required, but I've never really attempted it.
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Old 10-08-2011   #7
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Default Re: Commercial Glass shoot on Location

Thanks guys.

Really, this lighting setup for getting the bevels and textures in the glass to photograph properly was a matter of trial and error. Even now we sometimes have to move the background glows around to hit the glass just right. Sometimes these glows need to be larger or smaller, depending on the glass itself.

Using a large diffused source to one side and above the glass to lay highlights on the pieces of metal caning is something that's pretty common for most products of a smaller scale. The stretch here is to have light sources larger than the product. When the product is large that means the light source has to be even larger. It's just a matter of scaling the light source to fit the subject.

Maurice,

I'm in Tampa, Florida. The "Heart of Dixie" can't be too far away.

Just let me know and I'll come spend a day with you at your location and get you set up. Or if you want, I'll photograph your glass at your place. Once we have the setup we're pretty quick. I shot about 44 pieces of glass in 2 days last week. Some were easy and done in one take while others were harder and took more time and as many as 5 shots before we had what the client wanted.
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Old 10-10-2011   #8
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Default Re: Commercial Glass shoot on Location

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooks View Post

Maurice,

I'm in Tampa, Florida. The "Heart of Dixie" can't be too far away.

Just let me know and I'll come spend a day with you at your location and get you set up. Or if you want, I'll photograph your glass at your place. Once we have the setup we're pretty quick. I shot about 44 pieces of glass in 2 days last week. Some were easy and done in one take while others were harder and took more time and as many as 5 shots before we had what the client wanted.
Thanks. We're in Montgomery, Alabama. I'll keep your offer in mind. Knowing the difficulty of doing this, I am impressed with this work.
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Old 10-10-2011   #9
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Default Re: Commercial Glass shoot on Location

Very informative. Thanks for posting!
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Old 10-21-2011   #10
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Default Re: Commercial Glass shoot on Location

Few things could be harder to photograph. You did an outstanding job and I learned a lot from your set up.


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