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Photographing Glass

OK, your glassblowing skills have progressed to the point where you'd like to show people
the kind of glass art you like to make, maybe to show on your web page, or even offer for sale on the web.
And you've got a nice digital camera, but your photos really are not turning out very well,
and definitely not showcasing just how great your glass pieces look when you hold them.
So, there must be more to the photographing of glass art, and unless you can afford to hire a
professional photographer, maybe part of becoming a better glassblower is learning how to take better digital photos?
It may seem like an obvious over-simplification to some, but photography, and especially photographing glass, is all about LIGHT!
I searched "the source of all knowledge" google "photographing glass" and there are 627 web pages,
and I listed some of the ones you might find most insightful at the end of this web page.

After doing my research, on various web pages below, I ended up constructing my own custom light box (light tent), as you can see here...
I had already purchased through ebay a double-size medical x-ray "View Box".
Instead of paying around $300 , I was able to purchase this lightbox for only $35! It fits perfectly into the bottom of my 30" cube.
For pieces subtly dark pieces like this there is no way I could have gotten this photo without a lot of "underlighting".
The X-ray view box is shown inside my PVC cube in the photo below, if you scroll down a bit.
Glassblower.Info - Brown Optic Glass Art
Now it is no accident that the light box is a cube of dimension 30 inches on each side.
PVC pipe is sold in 10 foot sections, which is 120 inches. You can cut the pipe in half (into 5 foot sections) and then halves again (quarters) to end up with pipe segments which are 2.5 feet = 30 inches in length. You need 12 pipe sections to construct a cube, so you need to purchase three 10-foot lengths of PVC pipe. One of the confusing aspects is that when the pipe is marked as 3/4" pipe, that is the inside diameter (not the outside diameter, which is approximately one inch). Here are four photos to give you some idea as to the construction of a light box cube:

Glassblower.Info - Light Box for Photographing Glass Glassblower.Info - Light Box for Photographing Glass
Glassblower.Info - Light Box for Photographing Glass Glassblower.Info - Light Box for Photographing Glass
Glassblower.Info - Light Box for Photographing Glass The hardest part might be finding the "PVC Corners" (also known as PVC Side Outlet 90's). You can start here: You can go to Lowe's Hardware store, where they carry as SKU#24085 a 3/4" x 3/4" x 1/2" Side Outlet 90 -- but note that the 1/2" outlet is threaded, and I had to grind away the threads with my dremel tool to insert a non-threaded 1/2" (ID) thread PVC pipe (about 3/4" outer diameter). The ten foot sections of PVC pipe are the least expensive part of this project -- at $1.86 each for the 3/4" PVC and $1.53 for the 1/2" PVC pipe. The corner connectors cost $1.37 each (and you need eight of them). My total cost (not including the fabric and lights) was $17.34. You can use a white sheet blanket to save some money.

Web Page (click on image to visit) Description
Glassblower.Info - Photographing Glass - Light Tent
Glassblower.Info - Photographing Glass - Light Tent
Discusses a do-it-yourself Light Box / Light Tent using PVC pipe. Unlike other designs which builds a cube, this one builds a "table" with four legs, and substitutes PVC Tees and PVC Elbows instead of PVC Corners. Also discusses using CFL bulbs, which have a much cooler light.
Glassblower.Info - Photographing Glass>
Glassblower.Info - Photographing Glass>
Glassblower.Info - Photographing Glass>
Ebay Seller KEVENS2 sells a Light Tent (Light Box) constructed of PVC pipe and PVC Corners. KEVENS2 sells this for US$35 - US$40 (plus shipping of US$10.50). I like the simplicity of the design, its strength (being a cube), and the fact that clamp-on lights (available at hardware stores for under $10 each) can be clamped into a variety of positions, and the PVC pipe is strong enough to hold the lamps in position. Glassblower.Info - Photographing Glass> Glass Bead Photography Techniques. This web page has nine detailed sections.
Glassblower.Info - Photographing Glass> Mike Firth wrote this web page in 2002 and 2003 and recounts what he learned by taking a photography class at Corning.
Glassblower.Info - Photographing Glass A rather different approach, using a sheet of plate glass underneath the glass art being photographed.
Glassblower.Info - Photographing Glass Spectrum Glass has an article on "Photographing Glass for Texture"
"Glass is notoriously difficult to photograph, partly because of reflections, and also because its transparency makes it difficult to distinguish detail on the front of the object from that showing through from the back. If the overall shape of the vessel is its most important characteristic, it is best photographed against a light background; if the surface detail is more important, it should be put against a somewhat darker one. For simple cast or blown glass, a background of translucent plastic or paper with a strong light behind it is often the most effective background (see figure 15). When photographing glass with color film, it is usually best to avoid a colored background; otherwise the object will appear to be the same color as the background."

The setup shown at the left is for photographing small objects. "The simplest white background for small objects is either a light box or a sheet of glass held above a white illuminated surface."

The image to the left (from of a piece of glass art photographed on a piece of black acrylic (plexiglass) plastic (with refection) was cited by Jon Goldberg in an East Falls Glassworks email blast during November 2009.

I like this idea a lot, and did more research on the Internet, and found these additional links:

At 04:49:27 September 21 2023 displayed this
glassblowing web page at last modified: December 18 2011