How I got the picture: Working with glass and reflections

How I got the picture: Working with glass and reflections

Product photography is an essential aspect of presenting and promoting merchandise. However, when it comes to glassware and highly reflective surfaces, capturing captivating images can be a challenging task. The reflective nature of these materials often leads to unwanted reflections, glare and distortion. In a recent studio session, I shared how I capture these images. This is what we did.

Manage your lighting

The key to successful product photography with glassware and reflective surfaces lies in mastering the light control. Start by setting up a controlled lighting environment. Use diffuse light sources such as soft boxes, diffusers or umbrellas to reduce harsh reflections and glare. Place the lights strategically to create balanced lighting over the subject. Consider using black flags or black foam boards to block unwanted reflections and shadows. We created a kind of tunnel using a black foam core to reduce unwanted reflections.

Choose the right background

Selecting the right background is crucial in product photography, especially when it comes to glassware and reflective surfaces. A plain, neutral-colored background works best to minimize distractions and draw attention to the product. Consider using a white, gray or black background to create contrast and complement the reflective nature of the subject.

We used white acrylic (or perspex) for the tabletop and white seamless paper for our background. We also did a black setup with black on the table and black seamless paper.

Watch your angles

The angle at which you shoot glassware and reflective surfaces can significantly affect the end result. Experiment with different shooting angles to find the most flattering perspective. While product photographers normally recommend not shooting directly on the glass or reflective surface as this can lead to unwanted reflections from the camera or the environment. We actually set our tripods right at the same height or slightly lower than our glassware. We wanted to capture these challenging angles. Instead, try shooting from a slightly elevated or sideways angle to capture subject detail without interference.

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Clean and prepare the surfaces

I cannot emphasize this enough. Prior to the shoot, thoroughly clean and prepare the glassware and reflective surfaces to ensure they are free of smudges, fingerprints or dust particles. Use a lint-free cloth and gentle cleaning solutions to maintain their pristine appearance. In addition, consider using compressed air or a soft brush to remove any dust or lint from the surrounding area before shooting. Everything was clean, but we still found dust in our photos! Use gloves when handling glassware.

Experiment with props and styling

Enhance the visual appeal of your product photography by including relevant props and styling elements. Choose props that complement the glassware and help create a visually appealing composition. Experiment with different arrangements, textures and colors to add depth and interest to the images. We played with several glasses, wine and such. We wanted a minimalist clean look.

Watch the BTS video below:

A little look behind the scenes

Post-processing and retouching

After capturing your product images, post-processing and retouching can further improve their overall quality. Use photo editing software to fine-tune exposure, contrast, and color balance. Pay attention to any remaining reflections or glare and selectively retouch them. Please note that a balance must be struck between improving the appearance of the product and maintaining its realistic appearance. Dust and scratches can also be easily remedied in the post.

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Use polarizing filters

Polarizing filters can also be a valuable tool when photographing glassware and highly reflective surfaces. These filters help reduce reflections, control glare, and improve color saturation. Attach a circular polarizing filter to your camera lens and rotate it until unwanted reflections are minimized. Experiment with different angles to achieve the desired effect. We didn’t use them in this case, but they can be useful.

Camera settings and equipment

For our lights we used two Godox AD200Pro and Striplight diffusers. One on each side angled at a 450 oblique or oblique with diffusers (5-1 species), between the light and the subject at full power. I also used the Molus X100 to illuminate the background at 100% power. a Godox X1 trigger to trigger the speed cameras. We wanted our white background to look white, without blowing out the glassware.

I used mine Sony A7RIII and mine Sony 90mm macro lensISO320, 90mm focal length, f/10 (to get everything nice and sharp), 1/125 second shutter speed.

A few final tips

  • Use as many lights as you need (or have available) to properly illuminate your subject while still reducing reflections.
  • Use scrims or diffusers and lighting modifiers, the more you use the softer the light and minimal reflections.
  • Create ‘tunnels’ with foam core and reflectors (watch the video above) to reduce unwanted light and reflect or ‘bounce’ light where it is needed.
  • Use a ruler to align glasses! Something we thought about later.
  • We had one person shooting the subject, and another holding and moving reflectors, foam core, and the like. Having people to help is very helpful
  • We also attached my Sony camera to a laptop to get a better look at our footage.
  • Use dental wax to hold the glasses in place, it is easier to hide than ‘Bluetack’ or tape.

While this is tricky, this can actually be a lot of fun, but getting everything right in camera is a real challenge. If you’re shooting for a client, maybe try a few test drives. If you’re shooting for fun, try it with a friend. It’s tricky and tricky, but the final photos can look great.

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This was our ‘dark’ setup