Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lighting ice or other transparent objects

This is a continuation on the post about freezing action and it's a rather technical post so please, if you prefer other content bare with me I have some interesting posts in my idea book.

Lighting transparent objects (glassware, bear bottles, water etc.) can be kind of tricky and there is plenty of theory to digest if you are so inclined. This post is kind of shortish and I just aim to share some of my thoughts about how I choose to light the ice pieces. Full post including some hand drawn lighting diagrams after the jump, click the link below.

I have plenty of books on how to light stuff, but this time I just took a normal sized piece of ice and placed in front of a table lamp. I tested different angles and positions and realized that I wanted place all the lights behind the ice and shoot against pure black. This way it would really make the ice illuminate as if the ice was the actual light source. I backed up as far as possible so I could use a as long as possible lens, for me that was my 85mm. That way I could reduce the effect of flaring and still have a reasonably large area covered by the camera.

I also tried to shoot with a white background, check the top picture. To get a perfect white background I used my king size soft box (1.2m x 1.8m) and filled it with three of my battery flashes, didn’t take any pictures of the setup though, sorry about that. One thing to remember when shooting a transparent object against white is that it’s not the highlights you want to capture, they’ll disappear against the white, it’s rather the dark areas that will define the shape. So in order to emphasize those dark areas I put up two dark sheets on each side of the ice, for the ice to really pick up some “dark reflections”.

I know it could be kind of tricky to decipher what I’m trying to say, so I took the liberty of making two simple drawings of the setups I tried.

For black BG:

And for white BG:

If you have any further questions please hit me in the comments.

Hopefully I will get a chance soon to use my gallery of smashed ice images, if so I will share some of the Photoshop techniques I use to composite the ice into a fashion or portrait scene.

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