Thursday, July 12, 2007

Second Light

I've always been a fan of those cool wine/martini glass shots, like this one over at Liquid Air Photography. Now that's all fine and dandy, but I just have one flash, and the setup clearly requires two broad sources of light (one on each side of the glass).

Now although I plan to get a second flash sometime in the near future, I'm putting it off for a couple of reasons: Firstly, I need to actually do other stuff with all that money like um, pay rent. And secondly, having just one light source forces me to think a little more creatively than I otherwise would.

Now before I tell you how it all came together, goggle at the result for a second or two:

See what I mean about the two light panels? So the problem for me, is to figure out how to illuminate two panels on either side of the glass with my lonesome FL-50. It's something of a tricky problem since I can't allow any extra light to contaminate the scene, but I still need to get those two panels lit up bright enough.

So here's a top-view schematic of how we could possibly achieve this:

The key realization here is that unlike the Liquid Air setup, we don't need both panels illuminated via reflection, but instead one of the panels can be constructed out of material that transmits light via diffusion. This allows us to use a single flash on one side of the setup, lighting one panel via diffusion, and the other panel via bare reflection. With a little bit of placement trickery, we can make sure that bare light from the flash doesn't contaminate the subject itself.

The nice thing about this setup is that we can control the relative illumination of the panels by adjusting the flash distance, as well as the horizontal placement of the glass. The final ghetto setup cobbled together with all the garbage that was within reach on the table, is shown below:

One point that's not obvious from the top-views of the setup, is that the flash is kept just a smidge below the table level. This prevents the light from contaminating the surface that the glass sits on.

A couple of things that make me really happy about the result: As a proof-of-concept, I'm thrilled that it works, and I've learned a lot just by restricting myself to using just one flash. I could certainly improve on it too --- the DOF could've been increased (the base of the glass is a little out of focus), and now that I know this works, I need to build a little DIY studio to replace that ghetto setup.


saturn air jam said...

do you have an FL-50? or an FL-36?

Aaron said...

I traded the FL-36 in for an FL-50. It's more powerful, and works better as a main light. When I decide to get a secondary light (for a background or rim light), then I'll probably pick up the FL-36 again.

coeman said...

Dude I think that's my wine glass! BTW why is it empty? I'm ready to buy a digital camera...would appreciate any advice.