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TECHIE TIPS: Photographing Glass on a Budget...

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Getting bored of acceptable-but-flat photographs from my white photo tent, I decided to chance my arm on a black photography tent!

These have the same construction as a white tent, except that it's all black velour, but for three narrow panels of the standard white gauze. The black is supposed to give glass / silver something to reflect and refract off to give edges definition, and the white panels are to give dramatic lighting accents.

Anyhow, it still didn't really get the effect that I wanted, as the broadness of the white background completely over-powered the black sides and top. So I improvised. I cut a strip of a plastic poster I had pottering about, and velcro'ed it to the back of the tent, and underneath it I bunged a small cardboard box to raise it up level with the white panels to diminish under-shadows.

It looked a little something like this:

My Tent
And the end results are dramatically improved, I think:

White Tent vs. Black Tent
Something More Subtle
The photos are completely uneditied, and so I've still some playing about to do, obviously - but I'm fairly wowed by the immediate difference.

I just thought it might be an option for other folk out there wanting to maybe take their pictures up a notch. The lighting is just two large halogen 5500k daylight bulbs bunged in two cheap desklamps with broad shades. I'm going to play around with lighting it from above too, once I get a third suitable bulb.

Bernard C:
Nic et al - See CameraJim's Guide to Glassware & Crystal Photography for a similar, but not identical, set up to yours, Nic.   You might get ideas for tweaking your setup from this.

I've just been experimenting with sunlight through the side of a white light tent with a black background for photographing Vaseline glass.   It's certainly the best colour match I have achieved, although I may need to eliminate some of the reflections.   See, for example:

While they will never win prizes, I think they are good enough for Id and eBay purposes.

Bernard C.  8)

I bought my own photo tent this weekend and the first pictures from it can be seen in this post:,15996.msg93931.html#msg93931
The tent looks like this:
There was a black one and the white one.  I am planning to look into putting black panels into this one and see what results I get.
Where I bought it?
Ikea, it is a washing basket and costs the princely sum of 6,99 euro!
Kind regards,
PS: I have said that I am cheap ;D

simon bruntnell:
I have never used a light tent (got one, just never used it). Just sheets of tracing paper. Also try a sheet of glass spray it black and turn it over, here you go a mirror!

Now put the mirror on a table in front of a wall with large white paper or a sheet on the wall. Get one light with a tightish beam and aim it at the wall. Hopefully you should have a pool of light on the mirror below you at 45 degrees.

Place your object on it and now you should see it with a double reflection.

Bring in another light to the side with a tightish beam onto the glass (use tracing paper or a cheap shower curtain c.£2.99 as diffusers if needed) there you go trade secret!

simon bruntnell:
You can use coloured glass things (or lighting gels for stage lights) to put over the main pool light to change the background colour. I assume it's the same coloured filter gels I use. Works well for clear and cut glass, drop the pool low and contrast the cut glass against the black or as I said, gel the pool of light and the clear glass stands out from the background with a white light on the glass. And that's all I'm giving away! >:D


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