This past Saturday I shot a series of paintings for Harry Saylor, owner and proprietor of Jersey-based, pop art gallery Orbit Gallery Space. He’s putting the finishing touches on his new book called “EdgyCute” from Mark Batty Publisher and needed me to take some last minute photos.
We spent a few hours working through a dozen or so paintings before he dropped a twist. “I have a few ray guns by Jeff Burnette that need to be photographed, and they are made out of blown glass,” Harry explained. I’d like to say I was prepared for anything, but I really hadn’t banked on bringing the proper lighting for three-dimensional, see through-guns. That said, I’m a huge fan of photographers that can photograph glass objects using flash from below and above.
I’ve done it a few times with vodka and and wine bottles, but never in an uncontrolled environment. My assistant pointed out that Harry had a glass table, so I first tried to shoot the guns from under the glass, but the backdrop wasn’t exactly pleasing to the eye, and the metal stands were causing hideous shadows from below.
So I figured, why not try natural lighting. It was about 3pm and the sun was shadowed by overcast clouds. We went out onto his balcony, put the guns on a shiny black table and started snapping away in manual, bracketing to try to balance the exposure for the sun and glass.
To avoid a cluttered background, I had my assistant pop open my handy dandy collapsible Westcott backdrop, turn it long ways and basically blanket the black side around the gun and table while the sun bathed the glass in light. It worked rather nicely, except the handle of the gun was being shadowed by the stand and the bulky top of the gun. I didn’t think, I just grabbed my collapsible Impact reflector, flipped it to the silver side and had Harry bounce the sun off the reflector and onto the handle. It provided just enough light to highlight the handle and bring out the color.
Sure, it would have been nice to do this in a studio with a light box and a real backdrop, but the results look pretty damn good.
“EdgyCute” is available right now for preorder from Amazon.com.