The joy of lighting art glass

About this tutorial

This image started off with some pretty grandiose intentions! The original idea had the glass grenade in front of a colourful pigment explosion along with the smoke circles. We spent hours shooting the background elements – as a matter of fact, it took less than an hour to shoot the grenade over ten hours to shoot the backgrounds – most of which we ended up not using. But I’ll still show you exactly how we did them, so there’s lots of bonus material in this tutorial!   The glass hand grenade was the coolest object to shoot – the exterior surface of the glass was covered in a metallic finish. So when you front lit the grenade, it looked like an opaque piece of glass. But as soon as you put a light source behind it, the glass had this amazing transparency that showed an intricate interior made up of warm, contrasted tones. I found that the details of the grenade were so chaotic, it got lost as soon as I put any kind of detailed background behind it, so I decided to stick with the smoke only – and even that was significantly subdued.   Topics covered in this tutorial:  
  • Creating colourful pigment explosions
  • Creating dry ice smoke rings
  • Using short exposure durations to freeze motion
  • Using multiple speed light rigs
  • Using scrims to control specular highlights
  • Using Photoshop to control specular contrast
  • Photoshop masking and compositing techniques
  • Photoshop masking and blending for controlling tones
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