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Lookin’ through a pane of glass

My father won first place in a local sailing regatta, and asked for photos of his trophy.  The trophy is a clear glass whiskey decanter, with an etched inscription.  A beginner strobist’s nightmare.

My first attempt was lighting a sheet of dark purple silk, draped about a foot behind the trophy.  In this shot, a Vivitar 285HF at high power is snooted directly at the background from a fairly shallow angle off to the right.  The 285 illuminated the background, and was blocked from casting much light directly on the glass.  The sharp angle created strong, contrasty shadows on the backdrop.

To make the inscription visible, a second, low-power flash held four feet above the trophy and snooted on the top-left front corner.  This flash made the text readable, but is also the cause of the glare on the left side.

, Trophy, Purple Backdrop

Trophy, Purple Backdrop

My second attempt was a ‘dark-field’ setup, with a powerful Vivitar 365 aimed at a white wall and an opaque wood board placed between the illuminated wall and the trophy.  Here’s a shot of the setup:

Trophy shoot setup

Trophy shoot setup

Light from behind the board illuminated the edges and gave depth to the image, and provided enough light to make the text readable.  More front lighting could have helped the readability of the inscription.

Trophy, Dark-Field

Trophy, Dark-Field

I threw a dark t-shirt over the board to darken the background more, and hide the flaws in the wood:

Trophy, Black Background

Trophy, Black Background

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