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Glass Photography

by Nick Coons
Dec 15, 2004

I'm working with a company that manufacturers various glass products, and I was up in Sedona this past weekend helping them with their photography. As you can see by going to the Photo Gallery on this site, we've taken quite a few landscape photos around the state. This has been a hobby of mine for awhile, and I enjoy tweaking the camera to make the lights and colors come out just right. But I ran into a couple of minor difficulties this time. The first was interesting. Glass is clear -- How do you take it's picture?

We set out on Bell Rock for a very nice background view of all of the photography. We found several nice spots that would be great for setting up the products, and from there began taking pictures. Our first angle was all wrong. The sun shines right through the products and you could barely see them as they appeared almost completely transparent. Our solution to this was to find an angle where the sun was reflected off of the glass pieces and into the camera, so the photo caught a certain amount of the "glistening" from the glass.

The second problem was the focus. Most cameras now have auto focus, and it's extremely important for the camera to focus correctly when you're zooming. The goal here is to have the subject of the photo turn out extremely sharp, and have the remainder of photo just kind of blur off into the background. A regular camera won't do this. You have to be able to zoom to a large magnitude to accomplish this effect. And, your camera has to properly be able to focus on the subject.

I can zoom a great deal, but having the camera recognize the existence of the glass piece was another matter. If it didn't know it was there, it wouldn't focus on it. The end result was that the background came in nice and clear, except that there was this blurry glass image in the center; completely backwards. To get the result I wanted, I had to trick my camera. I set a rock about three feet to the right of the glass, outside of the shot. I'd aim my camera at the rock, have it focus, then move it back to the left to snap the photo of the glass while it was focused on an object of the same distance away from me. Luckily, as I have no manual focus options, this turned out extremely well. I'm glad my camera is easily influenced.

Three hours hiking around Bell Rock taking photos in 65-degree weather -- Now that's what I call work.

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