The Stained Glass Challenge

I received a note from reader Christine, who was having some difficulties photographing stained glass artwork for her Etsy shop. She had¬†previously¬†received some advice in the Etsy forums about shooting in the sun to get some of the glass colors on the background, and after following that advice, realized that she still wasn’t satisfied with her photos. Here’s an example:

So Chris asked for some help, and we worked out an arrangement where she would ship a piece or two to me for a few days to see what I could come up with. I admit that I did like the way the sunlight played off the colors and textures of the glass. If we stayed with this concept, there would be some simple issues that we could address (angle of the shot, filling the frame with the background, cropping, etc.) But it still would have left Chris with the rather troubling prospect of shooting outdoors year-round in Michigan.

When the package arrived and I got my first look at the green jewelry box, and saw the detail and quality of Chris’s work, I knew that the right approach was to just keep it simple and make sure that the photos accurately represented the art. No problem … and it could all be done indoors using a simple setup. I used a continuous white background, with a gradual sweeping transition between horizontal and vertical (no distracting seams). Then I set up the lighting using the proven technique of lighting the background separately from the subject. This little trick solves a lot of background issues, and can be done with either continuous lights (any color temperature) or flash units. I also wanted to make sure that I showed the entire piece (from different points of view) in some shots and concentrate on details in others. Shown below are the results. Have a look, enjoy and be sure to check out Chris’s shop.

Reflections Aren’t Necessarily Evil

We all know that if we’re not careful and don’t pay attention to proper lighting and subject positioning, we can end up with some nasty reflections (usually on our subject). So, naturally, many of us assume that we shouldn’t have any reflections on our backgrounds either. That’s often true, but if staged properly, reflections can add dramatic effect to your images. Check out the following examples and see if you agree.


If you like the way these look, and want to try it for yourself, here’s a link to the reflective background I used for these shots:¬†http://www.etsy.com/listing/97176853/photography-background-material

Until next time … Happy Shooting!