Glass...

by Pino Pino May. 16, 2020 415 views

Glass is an interesting mistress to photograph...

Beautiful and rewarding when it cooperates...

Frustrating when it refuses to cooperate...

There is a beautiful glass etching in the Shrine on the campus where I work - and I've taken some (what I think are) very nice photos of it...

Biggest challenge is she is typically either washed out (too far away or just not enough reflectiveness) or has a roof line through her head/neck (if you get close enough in natural light to get the details)...

I've recently been working on trying photos of her* with greater detail and to truly highlight the intricacies of the etching... without the line through her head/neck/face...

* 'Her' name is St. Thérèse of Lisieux - I am reluctant to use 'it' in reference to the glass etching when discussing the image of a Saint - hence the 'she' and 'her' references.

There is a lot of variance and texture and even gold in her image... somewhat difficult to see in daytime photos without specific lighting...

Easier to see in night time photos - because the lights in the 'rails' provide a light source 'behind' the etching (technically between the two etchings - but we'll get to that)...

There is lighting in the bars that confine the sections of glass... but that actually creates a large dark stripe down her center.... at night this creates a large dark stripe while the rest is reasonably nicely lit...

Photo below is 'futzed' with in Lightroom to show you the dark strip and NOT to present an amazing photo of her. The light you see is coming from little tiny lights in the black rails that support the sections of glass.

Now, normally with glass of this style instead of lighting from the front (left side of sample image below) you'd light from behind it (right side of sample image below)

Thing is, she is like 25' tall!

And I have not been able to find ANY sources for similar situations on how best to accomplish my goal.

And waiting for the perfect light in this scenario is like waiting for... well... it ain't happenin' anytime soon.

But there is another potentially helpful aspect with her that you don't have with a lot of etched glass - she is double sided. She is two panes of glass - one facing in to the Shrine and one facing out - and each is etched identically (well, in reverse of one another) so that you can see her as well outside as you can inside...

What this effectively does is put light 'behind' both etchings as it is between the two... but this does not successfully provide 'even' lighting... and I'm all about shadows, depth and contour but that black strip is NOT pleasant at all - and I want the real look of her - not a "I went into photoshop and adjusted all shorts of things to create an image that doesn't exist" of her...

I'm all for needing to fix some things that just need to be fixed - thank goodness for Photoshop in those instances... but I am just determined to find a way to light her properly for a SooC image that I'm happy with...

I can edit - I can photo manipulate and make any photo 'lie' when neccessary [and have been required to do so for several legitimate work scenarios that crop up now and again] - but I get WAY more satisfaction from solving the puzzle than I do from fixing it in post. My personal opinion - solving the puzzle teaches ME new skills while fixing it in post enhances MY photoshop skills while ignoring development [no pun intended - but pun enjoyed] of MY photography skills. Again, notice I use 'ME' and 'MY' - not 'YOU' and 'YOUR'... this is MY personal situation and I hold no grudge or disrespect for amazing photoshopers - I've seen some impressive photoshop work and that I absolutely love the end product of and that is great for that person... it's just not my personal preference.
I know - stubborn... accepted. it's how I learn new things - ignore the one time easy way out and find a way to do it that is repeatable and learn a skill that can be applied to future scenarios...

So here's my plan...

To strategically position large soft boxes inside the Shrine to back light her while I stand outside to take the photo... and then reverse - lights outside and me inside... to see which results in the best photo...

I'm happy with a series of images I have but I am determined to get an image similar to my 'dropping the rose' "blue" detail (one glass pane) photo three images up from here that is equivalent to that photo in detail, lighting, and the overall impact of her beautiful etching but of her entire visage ...

So I'll keep you posted... I think it will be one day this week that I pull out the big guns and setup the lighting to take a shot at this shoot...

Take a shot at this shoot... ...unintentional but odd alliteration there...

Anyway, that's my story for today... to be continued...

Thanks for looking and reading!

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Lynn F Medley 1 month, 3 weeks ago

What amazing glass art!! Beautiful to see her in person,, but tough to get the light ,, you did good!

1 month, 3 weeks ago Edited
Pino Pino Replied to Lynn F Medley 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Thank you! It is amazing to see in person... if you're ever in Darien, IL stop by the Carmelite Campus and check it out... smile

1 month, 3 weeks ago Edited
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