Day 289 – Distorting Light

Sometimes you see something online or in a magazine and you think, can I do that … or at least can I acheive something similar. I love the way light is refracted, so I am going to have a go and see if I can create my own image similar to this. Refracting light with glasses.

I sorted out my equipment:

  • Tripod
  • 17-70mm Sigma Lens
  • 430exii canon speed light on camera put pointed upwards
  • a selection of glasses
  • black and white paper

First I wanted to start with getting the whites white before I added the background.

ISO100, F8, 30sec - rear sync flash
ISO100, F8, 30sec – rear sync flash

Photographing glasses on a white background was harder that I thought – they are not really defined from the background. I was limited with light and ended up shooting in a darkened room with the lights on in the room behind me.  I used a white foam board for the background and placed the glasses on a grey worktop. I had to over expose by a couple of stops to get the background white.

ISO100, F5, 6sec - rear sync1 flash
ISO100, F5, 6sec – rear sync flash

I added the background I wanted to distort – I have included a wide short so you can see what I used – it is an A4 note book balanced against the foam board. Adding the background reduced the amount of light that was reflected back so I had to adjust the settings again and I also experimented a bit with depth of field. I was delighted to see the lines refracted in different ways on the glass.

ISO100, F6.3, 15sec - rear sync flash
ISO100, F6.3, 15sec – rear sync flash

I was not happy with the worktop base so added a piece of glass on the worktop which made it a lot more reflective. and I went closer which effected the available light. I did not realise in camera that I was getting reflection from the yellow lights behind.

ISO100, F6.3, 25 sec, rear sync flash
ISO100, F6.3, 25 sec, rear sync flash

I tried a different shape glass and it was really interesting how the light was reflected differently and how the dabbled effect of the work top shows through in the reflection.

ISo100, F16, 30sec
ISO100, F16, 30sec

With this image I experimented with the depth of field – at F16 the background and reflection and much sharper – but the longer shutter speed picked up all the imperfections in my glass and created a horrible yellow glow – I wish I had noticed this whilst I was using my camera – it would not have taken long to turn the light off behind me … it is amazing how far bad light travels! The narrow depth of field – works really well and I wished I used it throughout – but I didn’t – so I can try again!

ISO100, F6.3, 10sec - converted to black and white.
ISO100, F6.3, 10sec – converted to black and white.

The yellow tint of the lights behind me disappear when I turn the photo into black and white in Lightroom – a definite advantage of working with Raw files. My idea originally was to compose three glasses together – but I think I prefer the patter on an individual glass – it draws you in more to admire the detail – I think the stem is really fascinating.

ISO100, F5.6, 10 sec - converted to black and white
ISO100, F5.6, 10 sec – converted to black and white

I then thought I would experiment with a bottle and added a straw for interest – more stripes but this time is a different direction.

ISO100, F5.6, 6sec, red colour pop
ISO100, F5.6, 6sec, red colour pop

Some photographers hate colour popping an image – but I was experimenting by adding extra details to the image and to see if it works. I will let you decide – but it is interesting to see how water magnifies the refraction in the bottle and how solid glass in the base of the tumbler on the left also has the same effect of concentrating the lines.

ISO100, F5.6, 6 sec - rear sync flash, black and white
ISO100, F5.6, 6 sec – rear sync flash, black and white

The flower I think looks less distracting in black and white – and I think adding pouring water to the image adds interest and if you look closely you can see the background distracted in the bubbles. The rear sync fresh allowed me to freeze the movement of the water, and you can see the water clearly as it is on one of the verticals in the background.

Below – another shot of pouring water – this time the water falls within a white vertical and it is much harder to spot, the glass is also further away from the background…  so it is reflected differently within the glass.

ISO100, F5.6, 6 sec - rear sync, converted to black and white
ISO100, F5.6, 6 sec – rear sync, converted to black and white

A great experiment highlighting for refraction:

  • watch out for reflective light
  • different glasses refract light differently
  • a narrow aperture with close up objects – I think I said that the other day…. I hope today it gets embedded into my memory.

Hope you enjoyed my challenge.

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