Text on Glass...

by Pino Pino September. 02, 2020 611 views

This was a fun challenge to shoot... I decided a while ago that I wanted this shot and so went in on Wednesday with the gear I decided I'd need to get the shot.

It is that whole etched glass thing again... different etched glass and with fun new additional challenges.

BtS diagram of the layout of the shoot scenario for reference is further down.

It is a glass panel that sits less than 6 feet in front of the statue you see in the background...

The statue is in a gazebo - behind the statue is solid wood, to the left and right of the statue are two openings so you can enter from either side to view the statue, and the final side is the glass panel - so you can look through the glass to see the statue (and whomever is in there with it) OR you can read the text on the glass.

The gazebo sits in the middle of a room that has skylights above to the right (camera right), a large glass entry way behind and to the right (camera right) of it, and large stained glass wall in front of it (behind camera - and some of it reflected in this image).

So there is light coming from one side above (skylights), from one side behind (glass entry), and from the entire front filled with various colors and shapes (stained glass).

Remember, there is not a lot of space between the glass panel and the statue.

My objective was to get the text on the glass to be readable and the statue a bit out of focus. Achieving exactly the depth of field I wanted required four things:

  1. Get the proper focal length - about 120mm (175mm equivalent as I was on an APS-C Pentax K3)...
  2. Get the proper aperture - 2.8...
  3. Throw a little light on it at just the right angle to emphasis the text without creating glare or pushing light on to the statue - off camera flash on the floor in front of the glass pointing up...
  4. Get the proper distance - um, well...

Perfect distance was a no go... sort of... I kind of achieved it but not in the exact location I intended. I couldn't get square on with the glass.

Between the gazebo and the stained glass is a solid display... not real wide but dead center of the gazebo... and the depth of field I wanted was to be best achieved by standing right where that solid display stands - which means I can NOT stand there... so I had to stand just left of center and finagle angles through a bit-o-contortion to make this work. I still didn't get the exact DoF I wanted but I got pretty darn close.

If I could have gotten square on I would have pushed my focal length a bit to push the statue a bit more out of focus...

One of the challenges turned out to be actual benefits as I actually like the bit of color on each side from the stained glass and the 'obstacle provided a nice 'flag' to block the colors from invading the text - which would have made it more difficult to read.

So... the setup (diagram below) had to avoid glare/reflection from the glass entry, glare/reflection from the sky lights, glare/reflection/ or too well defined shapes or blotches of color from the stained glass (recognizing my note above that I ended up liking SOME of that in the image), and reflections of me... and it had to get a good depth of field to keep sharp text but blur the statue - without completely losing the identification of the statue... and get enough light to cross the text to define it without throwing a glare or pushing too much light through the glass on to the statue.

I pushed the light with a strategically placed flash that just skimmed light across the front of the glass and then I played with position and DoF (Focal Length and Aperture) to get as close to the intended result as possible.

I'd still like to move that obstacle and try the shot as I envisioned it but I'm pretty happy with it as it is...
BTW - this is the stained glass window... I took one shot of each panel and then stitched them in Photoshop. I also removed to brick sections that disrupt the scene in real life. This was another highlight of the day's shoot.

BTW - this is the stained glass window... I took one shot of each panel and then stitched them in Photoshop. I also removed to brick sections that disrupt the scene in real life. This was another highlight of the day's shoot.

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There are 7 comments , add yours!
Camellia Staab 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Scrolled twice and read twice, but had to look at the diagram 3 times and finally got my head wrapped around your steps. Excellent capture and it looks like your set up worked perfectly. I must add the stained glass is my favorite. Gorgeous indeed! Always a pleasure reading your steps/set up.

3 weeks, 4 days ago Edited
Pino Pino Replied to Camellia Staab 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Thanks, Camellia! I'm excited that the diagram helped- it was an odd scenario... There are so many beautiful images on the campus that sometimes I wish I could just photograph everyday at work...

3 weeks, 4 days ago Edited
Leon Linder 4 weeks ago

I love your presentation of your thinking. It draws me in like reading a good novel.

4 weeks ago Edited
Pino Pino Replied to Leon Linder 4 weeks ago

Thank you!

4 weeks ago Edited
Jay Boggess 4 weeks ago

Thanks for all the good techniques and a beautiful window!

4 weeks ago Edited
Pino Pino Replied to Jay Boggess 4 weeks ago


4 weeks ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Pino Pino 3 weeks, 6 days ago


3 weeks, 6 days ago Edited
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