Glass photography is one of the more challenging Products to light. The fact that glass is transparent, means that there are some specific lighting techniques when it comes to highlighting the shape and form of the glass edges. Dealing with reflections has it’s own challenges for a Still Life photographer as glass is highly reflective.The key to not getting unwanted reflections from your lights on the glassware is in the diffusion. Using softboxes and/or diffusion paper allows for attractive, soft light to be reflected on the sides of the glass or behind.
I have found some excellent videos on YouTube and Vimeo which will allow you to learn and experience basic and advanced techniques for shooting glassware. After watching these and with practice, you will be able to photograph glassware like a pro. Without further ado, here are 8 glass shooting technique videos from around the web.
Tower Above Studios LLC
This holy grail of lighting glassware video, reveals fundamental techniques for lighting the edges of a glass. Two bottom line techniques are entrenched in whether you would want a dark background with bright edges on your glass (Dark Field) or a bright background with dark edges on your glass (Bright Field).
Last Drop: Lighting a Wine Glass
Tony Generico Worshops
Tony Generico gives a purely visual tutorial in lighting a glass with wine and without. First notice that same Bright Field concept in the previous video, and secondly be prepared for some new techniques for getting a nice highlight in the red wine itself and on the edges of the glass on a Dark Field background.
How to make a great still life shot with only 1 light: tips from Photigy instructors
Here is a very simple one light setup from Alex Koloskov, using one stripbox and diffusion panels directly behind the glass that produces effective results, with and without food colouring.
Another Holy Grail video this time from Phillip McCordall, who shows you the Bright Field and Dark Field lighting technique, using just one table lamp and some black cards. He also reveals an important tip for highlighting the edge of a wine glass from base to top, by placing it on top of another glass.
Glass Product Photography Lighting Set Up
In this video Robert Grant reveals the importance of using diffusion for getting soft highlights on the sides of the glass and getting a nice gradient spotlight from behind, which adds up to some beautiful glass photography.
Karl Taylor's Hi-End Product Shoot - Made Easy!
Karl Taylor breaks down his complex lighting setup for a Whiskey bottle and a glass in this excellent YouTube video. He uses a special projector light with a lens to light the label. The lens can change the size of the light spot and gobos inside the lighting system allows him to shape the light that is projected onto the label. He also reveals a great technique for highlighting the colour of the whiskey in the bottle and glass.
How to set up for dark field lighting
Anna Gunn outlines 5 important steps for achieving a Dark Field lighting setup that can also be used for shooting some products besides glass. Step 5 involves using a black curtain behind the camera which helps by removing yourself from becoming a reflection in the glass.
How To Photograph A Beer Bottle/Product Photography
A technique that I am very fond of in this video tutorial for lighting a beer bottle.
Lee Morris uses a mixture of Glycerin and water to add water droplets to the bottle which creates a chilled look. Another handy tip from Lee is where he sprays Clear Gloss onto the label, which protects the label from wrinkling and degrading from the spray of the Glycerin/water mixture.
As you can see, Glass Photography can be complex and requires knowledge of how light reflects on glass and how to deal with those reflections, depending on the style and complexity of the shot that you want to create. These 8 informative videos break down the processes involved, making it easy to create soft highlights and as we have seen, also lowlights on the glass edges, and make photographing glassware and bottles an interesting and fun challenge.